The 100 best animated movies: 10–1
World-famous animators pick the best animated movies ever, including Disney and Pixar movies, cult movies, kids movies, stop-motion, anime and more
Wed Apr 16 2014
A wooden puppet yearns to be a real boy; he must prove himself worthy.
Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson and T. Hee
Best quote: “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
Defining moment: Playing pool, drinking beers, smoking cigars: Who knew it could transform kids into jackasses? (Literally.)
And so we reach the top of our list—we’d be lying if we didn’t say it was by a nose. Pinocchio is the most magical of animated movies, a high point of cinematic invention. Its influence on fantasy is massive: Steven Spielberg quotes the soaring ballad “When You Wish Upon a Star” in his dream project Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and remade the whole picture with his aching robot-boy adventure, A.I.). Disney’s second feature—originally a box-office bomb—begins with a sweetly singing cricket, yet plunges into scenes from a nightmare: in front of a jeering audience on a carnival stage; into the belly of a monstrous whale; beyond all human recognition. (Pinocchio’s extending schnoz is animation’s most sinister and profound metaphor.) It’s staggering to think of this material as intended for children, but that’s the power here, a conduit to the churning undercurrent of formulating identity. The takeaway is hard to argue with: Don’t lie, to yourself or others. Cultural theorists have, for decades, discussed Pinocchio in psychosexual terms or as a guide to middle-class assimilation. But those readings are like cracking open a snow globe to see that it’s only water. A swirling adventure flecked with shame, rehabilitation, death and rebirth, the movie contains a universe of feelings. Pinocchio will remain immortal as long as we draw, paint, tell tall tales and wish upon stars.—Joshua Rothkopf
top 10 should only be studio ghibli films. pixar or disney look like saturday morning cartoons in comparison
Some of the distant edges of greatness will always be overlooked or forgotten. For myself, it is surprising to find no mention of Will Vinton's The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985). As far as I know it's the first feature-length claymation film clocking in at 80+ mins. It's retelling of Adam and Eve is the most heart-warming and bittersweet to be found. And the Mysterious Stranger remains a serenely frightening segment in the mind.
Best quote: "Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists save empty space and you. And you are but a thought."
would have liked shrek but princess Mononke is not for children some movies were missing tags like Bambie and politics
No love for The Magic Pony (The Magic Horse, The Humpbacked Horse)?? Gorgeously animated Russian folk tale from 1977.
Oh great list, except, what happened to all the dog movies? Seriously? I mean, half of all animated Disney films are about dogs so the complete lack of canines in this list is quite conspicuous.
Where's Bolt? (Super underrated). Where's All Dogs Go To Heaven? Where's 101 Dalmatians and Oliver and Company?
This list is so discriminating. Damn disgrace.
Meh this list is OK. The many of the rankings are WAY off for me. And it does feel like they are picking obvious choices from Japanese cinema for example Mind Games, I thought was much better than say Castle In The Sky. And sleeping beauty was TERRIBLE, just TERRIBLE it had great art direction but other than that it blew hard.
But the glaring omissions in my books are
The Muppet Movie should be in the top 5 for sure. I'd bump The Incredibles
Sita SIngs Blues (top 20 at least for me)
Secret Of The Kells (Certainly in the top 20 for me as well)
Scanner Darkly Better than most of the top thirty
Rango (one of the best animated film of the past ten years that still holds up after repeated viewing)
Peter and the Wolf
Ghost In The Shell
Achii And Ssipak
My Girl Mari
No Bill Plymton (i.e. The Tune)
No Quay Brothers
Even Shrek was better than a lot of these films, the sequels not so much.
And really wasn't LOTR largely animated? If you include Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Jason and the Argonauts...
list is a lot stronger than the majority of 'greatest animation' lists
and I'm very glad to see some lesser known films get the recognition
they deserve, and very happy also to see Shrek isn't stinking up this
list like a lot of the others. This does suffer from the same problem as
most of the existing lists though, which is a real lack of diversity
and representation. I'd mostly put this down to the voting structure
used to compile the list combined with how the history of animation has
been recorded. Although a lot of the voters are within the industry and
have the credentials it doesn't mean they have a far-reaching knowledge
in regards to the history of feature length animation (most animation
buffs I know tend to have a far better knowledge of the shorts). Unless
you're specifically looking at the animation history of a certain
country, most available publications on the history of animation tend to
omit large sections of film history (most often those from countries
with differing political views to the USA and UK). I am saddened to see
countries with rich histories of animation mostly snubbed within this
list (Hungary has one film in the list, Russia has none), whilst
Bakshi's racist rotoscoped messes, Disneys dullest and mostly live
action films with smidgeons of animation have all found a place.
Firstly the list certainly favors more recent films. There are more films within this list from 1990-2014 than there are films from 1926-1989. Over half of the list are films from the USA, and nearly a third where released by Walt Disney. Japanese films take up just over a fifth of the list, half of these by studio Ghibli, and the remainder of the list are mostly French and British films. Three Czech films made the list, but it should be noted they are all by the same director (Jan Svankmajer). I'm not trying to say most of these films don't deserve to be in the list (apart from Ralph Bakshi's, I'm happy to say that), I'm just trying to draw attention to how much is missed from these lists simply because of a film not receiving a western release, or through them being forgotten from the animation history books, and how through a voting format more well-publicized films have the immediate advantage.
Movies I am surprised not see here include: The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Anastasia and The Land Before Time. Granted, I think the 60 movies I have seen out of the list all deserve to be here, so maybe there just simply was not room to recognize everything.
Did I miss MARY POPPINS on the list? Great songs, academy award winning, in fact. Didn't Julie Andrews win best actress? Pretty rare for a musical, much less one filled with animation. Remember Dick Van Dyke dancing with the animated penguins? Carousel horses flying off the carousel and then interacting with a fox hunt and then a derby race. This movie was a hard one for Disney to make. Watch the movie Saving Mr Banks and you'll see what he went through. I can't believe such a landmark film wasn't there. I'm just hoping I wasn't paying close attention and missed it.
There are some good suggestions on this list but all in all still a bad list. Americans just shouldn't make those lists, they are way too close minded and blind for a true beauty.
It's insulting that Shrek isn't on this list. Whether you liked the sequels or not (although even Shrek 2 should have been towards the top), there's no denying that it's one of the most original and influential animated films of the past several years.
And its still yet to be matched in terms of very real, very fleshed out characters.
Sorry, but you have Wreck-It Ralph listed above the Lion King...
And neither Dumbo nor The Incredibles should be listed in the top 10.
A great 100 films nonetheless.
I am sure we all will have a favorite not on this list. I, for one, love HEAVY METAL, but what I don't understand is why there are live action films like KING KONG, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, AND WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT on a list intended to celebrate the artful beauty of animation. Live action films do not cross over into the realm of animation because they incorporate animation or stop motion into their visual effects. If we did that practically every modern film that utilizes excessive amounts of CGI would be considered animated.
A nice list, although I think it would've been better if it was unranked. Ranking such a wide range of films leaves it open to heavy recency and exposure bias. A good example is Spirited away at 2. No doubt this is thanks its theatrical release and exposure in the West, but within the realm of Ghibli productions, Spirited Away doesn't even figure into the top 5.
The one egregious omission from this list, however, is Mamoru Hosoa (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki). Genuinely surprised not a single one of his movies made it here.
@Vinny C 101 dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp were on the list....Look again.
I couldn't agree more. What struck me after seeing the list are 1) the list is really English-eccentric, which little recognition to Russian and Hungarian or Czech animation. I remember reading somewhere about the Big Four animation studios in the classic era that are Disney (USA), Soyuzmultfilm (USSR, which released many masterpieces like Tale of Tales (1979), The Old Man and the Sea (1999), Pannonia Film Studio (Hungaria, which released some of classic gems like Cat City (1986); Little Fox (1981)) and Toei Studio (which responsible for early-anime).
There is no recognition towards Osamu Tezuka (the godfather of anime), many of early anime (like Hakujaden), or the works of Jiri Trnka.
I think if any foreign countries released the poll like this, Disney would be half as popular as it featured here
Still kudos for the recognition of many American indie animation like Consuming Spirits, Let the Wind Blows or It's Such a Beautiful Day. Any list that ranks It's Such a Beautiful Day high on their list is a winner for me.
2) It still favours many recent films (like you said). I'm actually quite happy that I know most of the titles on the list, but at the same time quite sad that it didn't actually surprise me (which it should, considers many other great animated titles out there)
On the side note, I feel sad that Satoshi Kon's (my favorite director, period) works just appeared in the bottom half of the list. I think his films will grow though.
@tinyorc exactly! especially prince of egypt and anastasia stood out when you mentioned them
@Nastja J I wouldn't go as far as to say Americans are closed minded or blind to beauty but i see your frustration. I think it's largely to do with a patriotic focus within american books on animation and how animation is reported on. The only foreign films that tend to get attention given to them in these lists are those that made it to America for the fesitvals and managed a release. Ideas that animation is for kids rather than an artform seems to be reinforced in America more than other countries also. Far more adult oriented animation has come from Europe and Asia. Not everyone who voted on the list was American, but it's fairly obvious by the selection how bias would exist. A whole section of voters from disney and pixar... jeeeez.
@Nastja J Not all americans think that way... I personally love Japanese animation and without a doubt would pick it over most of the American animation any day! Some of them do belong on the top 100 and that being said i just looked at the top 10 just to get an idea.. Just dont bunch all Americans up together! :)
I'm insulted you're insulted. Shrek is pretty poor. Give it 30 years, you'll see how relevant and well-loved it still is then. Pop culture gags don't tend to hold up that long (especially bad ones based on the matrix).
@Woodsy The Wind Rises is good, but a) it's too new for most to have seen, and b) it's not Miyazaki's best anyway (though it probably does deserve to be on the list, not near the top). Wolf Children probably does deserve to be on the list as well. Grave of the Fireflies is the best animated film ever made and they put it at 15th, so it's a bit biased to what Americans probably haven't seen (i.e. they might have seen a Miyazaki film, but not less well known Japanese animated films).
I'd have to agree with you here. I am fine with live action in my animated films, but I consider it a different thing to animation in a live action film. For example I have no issues with James and the giant peach being in the list, but I do with king kong. 5 minutes of animation does not consitute an animated feature. I'd say at least 75% of the feature would need to be animated.
All those films were ground breaking for their time in terms of technical side of animation. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was a training ground for many of the animators that went on to make other films on this list such as ALADDIN, LION KING etc.
As for JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS & KING KONG, although not personal favourites of mine many stop motion animators were inspired to go into the profession from watching those films so they rightfully have a place on the list imo.
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