Most of the time, animated films are synonymous with family entertainment, forced to defy expectations of being “just for kids.” But animated movies have proven to be every bit as powerful as their live-action siblings, with filmmakers using the platform to tell compelling and heartfelt stories that speak to entire generations. Here are Screen Rant’s 10 best animated films ever made.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The first animated production by Walt Disney Studios, Snow White had an impact on the industry that few will ever rival. Combining vibrant art with some standout musical selections, the film showed audiences that a brand new medium was on its way to theaters. But it would have been all for nothing if not for the memorable story. Viewers responded most to the great collection of characters, which are still heavily marketed nearly 80 years after its release. Couple that with a narrative that spoke to both young and old, and you’ve got one of the most revolutionary movies ever put to film.
Pixar is the premiere animation studio in the world today, and their first film’s success is a main reason why. Toy Story set the template many of their future projects would follow, as they crafted a thrilling adventure that both kids and adults could relate to. Youngsters appreciated the colorful collection of toys, while their parents were able to pick up on the themes of growing older and being replaced by something new. Combining heart, humor, and emotion, the movie’s screenplay was even nominated for an Oscar – showing Pixar had what it took to be a major force in the industry.
Pixar had reached the top of their game in the 2000s, and this tale of a fish in search of his son is one of their landmark achievements. The film possessed the kind of universal messages that audiences have come to expect from the studio, in this case focusing on parent-child bonds, and how and when children must seek out their own independence. The love between Nemo and Marlin is one for the ages, and the two only realizing it once they had been separated by a vast ocean was the driving force of the narrative. Like so many other Pixar films, the supporting characters were top notch as well, with the tank gang – and especially Dory – finding a permanent place in our hearts.
How to Train Your Dragon
DreamWorks may often be seen as standing in the shadow of Pixar, but every so often, they break through with a winner of their own. With a beautiful visual style and a rich and witty screenplay, How to Train Your Dragon is a perfect example of a family film done with heart and intelligence. The movie’s aerial sequences and heartwarming teamwork between the young Hiccup and the dragon Toothless lent weight to the standard third-act battles, and delivered a happy ending despite all involved being scarred in the process. A touching tale of friendship with sufficient dramatic heft and insight to please everyone in attendance, it’s easy to see why this became on of the studio’s flagship franchises. Who wouldn’t want their own pet dragon?
The Minions stole the spotlight, but the loveable yellow creatures are hardly the only things that made Despicable Me a modern animated classic. At the film’s core is an unlikely protagonist in Gru, a supervillain obsessed with ruling the world - until he comes across three adorable little girls who become much, much more than pawns in his evil game. Over the course of the film, Gru and his surrogate daughters become a caring family, raising serious questions about the ways in which every parent organizes their priorities. Thoughtful, humorous, and enough emotion to sell viewers, Despicable Me is a heroic accomplishment that shows there’s good in all of us.
The LEGO Movie
Ridiculed upon its announcement, audiences everywhere were eating plenty of crow when the film released. Wildly imaginative and extremely creative, LEGO was able to crack the Pixar formula of having something for everyone, with sharp humor and well-timed pop culture references that gave it a cross-generational appeal. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in top form, using the film to offer biting social commentary and powerful statements on relationships, childhood, consumerism, and pack mentality. Full of exciting action, crazy characters, celebrity cameos, well-hidden jokes and plenty of laughs, LEGO showed that a toy movie could be done right. In the end, Everything really was awesome.