Obviously this will be changing as I see more things, but here’s a list of my top 20 animated movies of all time. I consider animation to be anything that is not live action, so stop motion, CGI, and obviously traditional hand drawn animation, among other things. I am also only including movies which are primarily animated, not just ones that have animated sequences. AND to be fair, I haven’t watched much in the way of anime movies, in particular Miyazaki, which I know everyone is nuts about.
1) The Prince of Egypt; Breathtaking animation, score, vocal performances. Perfectly balanced, heartfelt without being saccharine. A gem.
2) The Last Unicorn; Uniquely beautiful, the story is brilliantly layered and it doesn’t pull punches for kids’ sake. Suffers a little from a couple of poor songs.
3) Up; This one finally got me on board with CGI. Beautiful work, unexpected protagonists, plenty of thrills and suprises, and gently clever but always kid-friendly.
4) Coraline; Dark and clever. Utterly different. Amazing stop-motion animation.
5) The Secret of NIMH; Beautiful animation, interesting plot that keeps things moving along – tense and dark but never too scary.
6) Watership Down; Another uniquely animated movie with a great plot, but this one was a little scarring for me as a kid. I can’t look at rabbits the same way.
7) The Iron Giant; Heartfelt, stylized animation with a bit of a Japanese feel to it without being ripped off.
8) The Lion King; Disney’s best; polished and professional, well balanced humor (comic relief characters do relate to the plot), perfect songs and score.
9) Aladdin; A close second for Disney, maybe a bit more beautiful but a little less well balanced.
10) An American Tail; Unique plot, beautifully drawn – pleasantly dark.
11) All Dogs Go To Heaven; Also dark, doesn’t pull punches. Beautiful, with a unique plot and setting. Well acted.
12) Sleeping Beauty; Perhaps the most beautifully drawn of all Disney’s works.
13) Ghost in the Shell; For a complete departure – adult-friendly fare with a killer, edge-of-your-seat plot and plenty to talk about later. Not a huge fan of the animation.
14) The Adventures of Prince Achmed; A landmark, amazingly animated with BEAUTIFUL silhouettes. I love all of Lotte Reineger’s work.
15) James and the Giant Peach; A riotous adventure told mostly through claymation. Unique style, great actors.
16) Charlotte’s Web; Gorgeous, gentle, small in scale. Everything White could have wanted.
17) The Great Mouse Detective; An underrated film from Disney – darker, with virtually no singing.
18) Little Nemo; Beautiful animation, again with strong Japanese influence.
19) Cats Don’t Dance; Cute, with some big ideas behind it.
Not on here yet: #20 – The Flight of Dragons (1982) – I love the animation here, as well as the epic adventure. More people should know about this movie.