Animations have outgrown the idea that they are made for kids for a long time now. For movie fans, animated films can compete with some of the greatest live-action movies of all time. TechTrends put together a list of the best animations of all time.
Animated films have long been delivering more quality than was expected. Not only do they offer existential lessons to children, but they will also offer adults entertainment, charm and depth. Moreover, there are those animated films that are classics and purely delightful to watch. You may wonder what animated movies have the praise of the critics as the best animations of all time. Walt Disney has been doing masterworks for decades now and modern-day Pixar, Laika, and Illumination have also been offering technological wonders. One of the most important reasons why animated films are so popular is the limitless possibilities they present for telling a story. TechTrends analyzed the movie rates and made a list of the top picks, which includes some decades-long classics as well as more recent masterpieces.
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Best Animations of All Time; What Animated Film to Watch?
The first movie many of us ever saw was most definitely an animated movie, telling us all about the building blocks of storytelling. Animations have altered the entertainment landscape with their growth since they became a refuge for adults as well. In researching for the best animations of all time, we came across many award winners, along with some old classics and modern ones. So, the list is in chronological order. Let’s get to it without further ado.
- Director: Pete Docter
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 8
Pixar’s Soul is indeed one of the best animations of all time, tackling existential questions when it shows the life and afterlife of a jazz musician in New York City. Moreover, New York Times claims that it is the first animated film made in the U.S. that showed such metaphysical concepts. And many believe that it did justice to New York City’s frenetics as well.
- Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 97%, IMDb 8.4
Pixar brilliantly handles the death and grieving topic in its 2017 animated film named Coco. Without a doubt, Coco is one of the best animations of all time and it won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Moreover, the story focuses on an aspiring musician who accidentally goes to the color Land of the Dead.
- Directors: Rich Moore, Byron Howard
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8
Zootopia is also one of the best animations of all time with its uncommonly ambitious designs. The story takes place in Zootopia, a city filled with anthropomorphic mammals, crime saga. It deals with systemic racism, addiction and drug trading as well as social unrest. Families can definitely enjoy this entertaining picture and its audacious endeavor.
- Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.6
The highlights of Disney Studios’ Moana were the 3D vistas and toe-tapping earworms. This musical comedy-adventure movie tells the story of a girl who is eager to save her island and needs the assistance of a demigod. After that, together they encounter and fight many monsters and impossible odds. In the journey, Moana finds her own identity, which she long sought after. As one of the best animations of all time, it got nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar; however, it lost to Disney’s Zootopia.
Inside Out 2015
- Director: Pete Docter
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8.2
Pixar roared back to the top once again with the animated film Inside Out. It explored emotional regulations that is not only funny but also gut-wrenchingly sad. It gets deep into the intricacies of the human condition in a way that is so innovative and never done before. Within the mind of a girl named Riley are the emotions that have control over her actions. Moreover, as one of the best animations of all time, Inside Out reminds us that we need all our emotions and not just the positive ones to go ahead.
Big Hero 2014
- Directors: Chris Williams, Don Hall
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 90%, IMDb 7.8
The next one on our list of the best animations of all time is Big Hero, as a plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax develops a bond with prodigy Hiro Hamada. The duo team up with some of their friends to be a band of high-tech heroes. Moreover, the Walt Disney animated film shows how easily one can fall into violence. However, we have to learn to control those urges.
- Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 90%, IMDb 7.5
Disney’s 2013 Frozen is among the best animations of all time. Being bold and courageous is the key message of this animated film that empowers young girls. Moreover, you must learn to accept your differences and uniqueness. In addition, the theme revolves around the importance of family as Elsa and Anna share a close bond.
How to Train Your Dragon 2010
- Directors: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 99%, IMDb 8.1
In this DreamWorks’ Vikings and dragon fighting saga, a boy and his pet share a human and animal bond which tugs heartstrings. The story is about a boy who has daddy issues and is the geekiest, weediest Viking there. However, since brain is mightier than brawn, he is able to find the ways of dragons. The animated film masterfully shows how parents can’t hang onto their children forever. If they wish them to become independent and learn to flourish, they should let them make their own mistakes. Therefore, it became of the best animated movies of all time.
Despicable Me 2010
- Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 81%, IMDb 7.6
Minions came to life in the 2010 Despicable Me movie, which is considered one of the funniest. Gru is a supervillain who finds out that he has a soft side after he adopts three young daughters. Moreover, the main character is taught a powerful lesson that says “You don’t know what you have until it is gone”. There were also some sequels and prequels following the release of this movie.
- Director: Pete Docter
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 98%, IMDb 8.3
After Beauty and the Beast, Up! is the second animated film to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Then, Pixar came to the peak of its powers by appealing young and old audiences. The brief opening chapter of Up is iconic and a revelation. It also does not shy from frankly depicting child neglect. Moreover, there is a flying balloon house and a talking dog, making the movie magnificent and entertaining. It is the story of a widower who has always wanted to explore before work, family, lobe and tragedy took over. This animation masterfully displayed the flow of real life.
- Director: Henry Selick
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 90%, IMDb 7.7
This fantasy film took Laika Studios four years to create with the help of the stop-motion animation wizards. Coraline is an adaptation of a book written by Neil Gaiman and the main character goes into a parallel universe that has dark secrets. She is brave and willing to sacrifice her own wellbeing for the sake of others. This is indeed one of the best animated movies of all time.
- Director: Andrew Stanton
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 8.4
When Pixar released WALL-E, it showed gravitas since it is an epic romantic comedy that does not talk much for most parts of the movie. Many people relate and empathize with this big-eyed, kind-hearted, sensitive and romantic robot. In addition, it showed the environmental destruction of our planet in the year 2805, devoid of humans. One of the best animations of all time and one of Pixar’s greatest wonders, WALL-E, starts a journey through outer space for a female robot named Eve, whom he loves.
- Director: Brad Bird
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 96%, IMDb 8.1
This Paris-set Brad Bird’s work of art is about a rat called Remy. He has a dream of becoming a chef. This has made it to the list of the best animated films to watch with the power of cinema showing at the moment when ice-cold critic Anton Ego tastes his cooking and is taken to a childhood memory. Remy helps Linguini, a newbie chef, secretly and Pixar has tried to be eccentric but impressive with fascinating characters and true emotions. One of the charms of this animated film is the relationship between Remy and Linguini and how they help each other to succeed.
Corpse Bride 2005
- Directors: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 84%, IMDb 7.3
The next one of the best animations of all time is Corpse Bride. It is a story of a groom accidentally getting married with a deceased woman. This stop-motion animated drama used precision-crafted clockwork heads for the puppets, which led to better degrees of facial subtlety. There was also a report of one of the animators having nightmares about adjusting his own face like that.
The Incredibles 2004
- Director: Brad Bird
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 97%, IMDb 8
Brad Bird became a new animation master with the creation of The Incredibles. It is a stylish, retro, and dynamic animated film and one of the greatest animated movies ever. There was also a 2018 sequel that many found entertaining but rushed since it lacked the slow burn, character-driven buildup that made the 2004 movie so unforgettable.
Finding Nemo 2003
- Director: Andrew Stanton
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 99%, IMDb 8.2
Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s most astonishing and quiet revolutionary animated film with breathtaking underwater visuals. As one of the greatest animated films ever, Finding Nemo is funny and shows the adventure of a father who woes to protect his son going through inevitable risks and dangers. Moreover, the film tried to show how going with the flow and trusting the people who are trying to help can make things ok.
Spirited Away 2001
- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 97%, IMDb 8.6
Spirited Away is by far one of the best animations of all time. It is the story of a girl crossing over to the spirit world. Moreover, Spirited Away is an achingly bittersweet epic about growing up and adjusting to change. The only anime to have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature is this masterpiece. This tale of untrammeled imagination urges children to embrace wonder and weirdness and adults to remember how they used to do the same. In addition, it depicts anxieties of getting separated from one’s parents, and being afraid of disappearing forever. In addition, it also shows the ancient folklores of being punished for committing sins against nature.
- Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 88%, IMDb 7.9
The story of Shrek, who is an ogre, takes place in a land inhabited by classic fairy tale characters. Then, Shrek starts a journey with his wisecracking donkey to take back his swampland. Following that, he starts to fall in love with a fair princess named Fiona he is tasked to rescue. “Love is blind” and few films have expressed this message with such sincerity and clarity. Shrek’s character even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for being an icon.
Toy Story 1995
- Director: John Lasseter
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 100%, IMDb 8.3
Pixar’s inaugural feature introduced amazing toys of Andy and what the film production is able to do with 3D computer animation. When Andy buys a new toy, Buzz Lightyear, Woody the cowboy gets jealous as he spends more time with it. The detours the toys take and the risks there are along the way are moving and most rewarding.
The Lion King 1994
- Director: Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 93%, IMDb 8.5
Another one of the best animations ever with memorable characters, drama, humor and catchy tunes is the Lion King. This is an adaptation of Hamlet. Moreover, the story is about a lion cub named Simba, who was tricked into thinking he killed his father. He ran away, but then came back again to take back what was rightfully his. A number of iconic songs also made it very successful.
Beauty and the Beast 1991
- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 94%, IMDb 8
One of the most classic and best animations of all time is the story of a young beauty and a cursed beast. Beauty and the Beast was Disney’s third film to use digital animation. Moreover, in the story, if Belle starts to love the beast, his curse will be broken and he can be a handsome prince again.
Sleeping Beauty 1959
- Directors: Wolfgang Reitherman, Clyde Geronimi, Eric Larson, Les Clark
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 89%, IMDb 7.2
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty came out at the end of an era as the studio did not make another fairy tale for many decades. As for the story of this animated film, Princess Aurora was put under a vicious spell that could only be broken by a true love’s kiss. Although it was financially disappointing, it is regarded as a classic tale nowadays.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937
- Directors: David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen, William Cottrell
- Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 95%, IMDb 7.6
The first ever full-length animation in North America and Walt Disney’s first animated feature was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This classic 1930s film was the most successful movie of that time. Moreover, the one that started it all is the story of Snow White. Her stepmother, the wicked queen, is jealous of her beauty and tries to kill her.