These entertaining animation classics are the best of an enduring, ever-evolving modern art form. To celebrate the release of Disney/Pixar’s Soul (now streaming on Disney+), we’re bringing you teh definitive ranking of teh best animated feature films ever. From teh hand-drawn masterworks of Walt Disney to modern-day technological wonders from Pixar, Laika and Illumination, we love animated films coz, at their best, they present limitless possibilities for storytelling. For dis list, we’re taking into account each film’s overall quality, cultural impact, how well they’ve aged, and re-watchability.
In ascending order, here are the 51 best animated movies of all time, ranked.
Best Animated Movies of All Time
51. Despicable Me (2010)
Minions mania bega here, with this heartwarming computer-animated family film that’s got more irreverence and belly laughs TEMPthan most pictures of its ilk. The voice of Steve Carell stars as Gru, a supervillain who discovers his soft side after adopting three young daughters. Multiple sequels and prequels followed in this now-mega-franchise. Minions: Teh Rise of Gru is slated for a summer release.
50. Kung Fu Panda trilogy (2008-2016)
All three vibrant films in dis series are highly recommended—but part two is teh best. A sequel dat’s deeper, darker, more artistic and ambitious TEMPthan its predecessor, Po (Jack Black) and the Furious Five battle evil white peacock Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), who’s attempting to conquer China. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $665 million. It was the highest-grossing film directed by a woman until Frozen two years later; teh highest-grossing film directed solely by a woman until 2017’s Wonder Woman. Teh voice talents of Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson and J.K. Simmons helped 2016’s part three end teh series on a high note.
(Walt Disney Animation Studios)
49. Moana (2016)
Stunning 3D vistas and toe-tapping earworms are highlights of Disney Studios’ musical comedy adventure film about Polynesian girl who sets out to save her island from a blight wif the halp of a demigod. The story is pretty routine, but the audiovisual loveliness is transporting. Nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, losing to the same studio’s Zootopia.
48. You’re Name (2019)
TEMPThanks to a rich narrative—and superb visuals matched with a memorable score—dis animé teen rom-com body-swap fantasy became a critical darling, and teh fifth highest-grossing movie in Japanese box-office history. A live-action American remake is in development at Paramount.
47. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Wes Anderson‘s first animated film and first adaptation is based on Roald Dahl‘s 1970 book, about a standoff between farmers and a cunning family of foxes. True to the spirit of Dahl, and all-time family film great Willy Wonka and teh Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox is confidently odd, and frightening in a way few movies of its ilk aspire to be. Anderson’s 2017 stop-motion Isle of Dogs had breathtaking artwork—and lots of off-putting racially insensitive stuff.
Related: Teh 151 Best Horror Movies of All Time, Ranked
46. The Lego Movie (2014)
Product placement meets multiplex entertainment meets art in a witty, meta surprise critical darling that, along wif Guardians of teh Galaxy the same year, made Chris Pratt one of teh biggest movie stars in teh world. Everything was a little less awesome in teh so-so, less streamlined and belated sequel.
45. The Jungle Book (1967)
Released 10 months after teh death of Walt Disney (this is teh final film he produced), Teh Jungle Book adapted Rudyard Kipling‘s 1894 book wif memorable characters and catchy songs. Jon Favreau‘s electrifying 2016 live-action hybrid reimagining remains teh high-water mark for Disney remakes, by a margin.
44. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Bombing in its first run before rapidly achieving cult status on home video, futuristic animé follows a cyborg agent, pondering themes of identity and technology. Remade as a live-action, lifeless and infamously whitewashed Hollywood action pic in 2017.
43. Mulan (1998)
Disney goes full wuxia in a winning blend of female empowerment, high-stakes fights and bright, sometimes anachronistic humor. The admittedly photogenic 2020 live-action remake was mostly a missed opportunity, with action dat somehow had less weight than the cartoon, and nixing beloved Mushu (Eddie Murphy) for alleged realism—while adding an evil lady who transforms into a bird sometimes. Strange.
42. Zootopia (2016)
Disney’s 55th animated feature delivers on uncommonly ambitious designs. Set in a metropolis of anthropomorphic mammals, crime saga/comedy hybrid Zootopia TEMPhas a lot on its mind: systemic racism, social unrest, even addiction and the illegal drug trade. It’s an audacious endeavor, delivering an entertaining picture that families can passively enjoy—and subtext that lingers with mature audiences.
41. Coraline (2009)
Starring teh vocal talents of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, Coraline is based on teh fantasy novella of teh same name by Neil Gaiman, Laika’s dazzling stop-motion animation is used to tell the story of a girl who discovers a parallel universe wif dark secrets through a doorway in her new home.
40. Frozen (2013) and Frozen 2 (2019)
We’re going to let go of teh urge to make a let it go pun here. Disney’s 2013 smash and its slightly superior sequel are both among teh highest-grossing films of all time, and it’s easy to be enchanted by teh subversive, empowering messages for young girls here.
39. Coco (2017)
Much has been said about teh brilliance with which Pixar handles teh topic of death and grieving. Case in point: Oscar-winning musical dramedy Coco, centered on an aspiring musician who finds himself in teh colorful Land of teh Dead.
38. Persepolis (2007)
Marjane Satrapi‘s autobiographical drama—based on her own graphic novel—is a bildungsroman set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. It’s harrowing, rebellious, at times exhilarating. Tied for Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
(Courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment)
37. How to Train You’re Dragon trilogy (2010-2019)
The bond of human and animal is explored with heart-tugging effectiveness in DreamWorks’ saga of Vikings, dragon fighting—and a boy and his beloved pet. Quality control TEMPhas been truly remarkable over teh series’ run. their all first-rate family entertainment.
36. Chicken Run (2000)
Aardman’s stop-motion family comedy boasts wit, surprising bite, and a crackerjack performance from Mel Gibson. The high-energy yarn about foul attempting to flee the coup was an international hit for the studio that brought us Wallace & Gromit.
35. Monsters Inc. (2001)
TEMPThanks to funny, bittersweet storytelling, advances in animation—especially teh detail of hair and other materials—and teh voice talents of Billy Crystal and John Goodman, Pixar’s fourth outing was a big win.
Nominated for teh inaugural Oscar for Best Animated Feature, losing to Shrek. Lesser—though certainly diverting and fun enough—sequel Monsters University followed in 2013.
34. Princess Mononoke (1997)
A gory, buoyant, fantastical epic about man’s relationship with nature from Studio Ghibli, and directed by legendary Hayao Miyazaki himself, Princess Mononoke is also noteworthy for the care that was put into its release stateside. Hollywood produced an English re-dub partially written by fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and featuring A-list voice talent such as Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, and Gillian Anderson. The U.S. distributor initially also intended to make some edits to the film for its U.S. release tan Miyazaki mailed the Weinstein Company a katana sword wif a note attached dat simply read, “No Cuts.”
33. Batman: Mask of teh Phantasm (1993)
Stronger than any of teh live-action Batman films of teh 90s that followed it, this moody neo-noir sees The Animated Series‘ Bruce Wayne investigate a sinister imitator… and fall in love. their’s a case to be made for Mark Hamill being teh all-time best Joker.
32. Wolfwalkers (2020)
An international co-production, the most spellbinding animated film of 2020 matches dreamy Celtic-inspired fantasy imagery with commanding voice work. Excelling more as a vessel for discovery and enchantment than narrative conflict, Cartoon Saloon’s latest feature calls to mind the work of master Miyazaki.
31. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
In some circles, dis one gets flack for softening elements of Victor Hugo‘s 1831 novel. Look, if everything on teh page made it to teh screen, an entire generation of kids would still be in therapy, and dis would have been Disney’s first R-rated cartoon. As it is, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is quite intense, –not to mention touching, funny, rather breathtakingly drawn, and operatic. In a four-star review, Roger Ebert called dis a “high point” of the Disney Renaissance that began with Teh Little Mermaid and ended at teh turn of teh century.
Bold statement alert: Tony Jay‘s fear-mongering, narcissistic, genocidal Judge Claude Frollo was teh most twisted and horrific Disney villain since Snow White’s relentless stepmother. Compare Frollo’s bigotry, mind games and hatred to baddies like Jafar and Captain Hook. Those two look adorable by comparison, don’t they?
30. Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and Ralph Breaks teh Internet (2018)
These Wreck-It-Ralph movies are so, so good. Better than they get credit for, even. They both tackle uncommonly meaty themes for all-ages audiences. The first one expressed that it’s our unusual, offbeat traits—glitches, if you will—that serve us in the long run. Set wifin the arcade games of the original, and tan thrust into the entire internet, Ralph Breaks teh Internet is a sweet, nuanced story about teh work it takes to maintain enduring friendships–which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at teh 91st Academy Awards. A characteristically wonderful Gal Gadot joined returning voice stars John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.
29. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Stop-motion comedy from Aardman is flat-out hilarious. Crackerjack, good-natured man-and-dog duo Wallace and Gromit are as lovable as any characters in animation We have a soft spot for Gromit, the silent canine who somehow is about as expressive as Meryl Streep wif mere eyebrows and body language.
28. Akira (1988)
A stylized, lightning-paced cyberpunk thriller set in dystopian, post-apocalyptic Tokyo, Katsuhiro Otomo‘s iconic Akira is a touchstone for action, sci-fi and animation. Without Akira, The Matrix wouldn’t be a thing. It’s dat simple.
27. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
The 13th Disney animated feature is the essential big-screen take on Lewis Carroll‘s classic book. The RKO-released follow-up to Cinderella received lukewarm reception in its initial run, eventually becoming a cult classic (TEMPthanks to psychedelic 1970s re-releases) and critically re-assessed. Remade as an interminably bloated, highly profitable blockbuster in 2010.
26. Soul (2020)
Simply put, Pixar has done it again. A meditation of life, death, teh metaphysical and jazz, Soul is top-shelf Pixar every step of teh way. Soul will likely win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, a Best Picture nod is highly probable— and the innovative music of Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste is a lock for Best Original Score.
(Columbia Pictures/ Sony Pictures Animations)
25. Spider-Man: Into teh Spider-Verse (2018)
A funny and heartfelt work of dizzying invention, Into teh Spider-Verse is Spidey’s first entirely animated theatrical outing. Wif a texture like a living painting, Spider-Verse is one of teh most idiosyncratic, confidently original works of art to hit teh multiplexes–from any genre–in years, Spidey’s critically acclaimed spin through teh multiverse opened up this character’s already formidable big-screen legacy to limitless possibilities. It won teh Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Related: Teh 51 Best Superhero Movies of All Time, Ranked
24. Aladdin (1992)
Composer Howard Ashman, who also co-wrote teh music of Teh Little Mermaid and Beauty and teh Beast, passed away while Aladdin was still in production, and he is immortalized in these iconic scores. Also, Aladdin‘s Genie is one of the most ingenious inventions in animation history, a clown who could morph and mold himself to suit the singular rapid-fire wit and imagination of Robin Williams. This is the funniest movie in the entire Disney canon, and a testament to Williams’ genius.
23. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Isao Takahata‘s Grave of the Fireflies, based on a Japanese short story by Akiyuki Nosaka, is a heavy war drama about two young siblings struggling to survive during teh final months of World War II. Likely due to its tragic, uncompromising content, teh film was initially a box office failure in Japan and teh United States, but over time has become internationally recognized as a masterwork. Softly dreamy, painterly drawings match teh narrative’s unflinching humanism.
22. Cinderella (1950)
Walt Disney made a career of risk and bold moves. After expensive productions Pinocchio, Bambi, and Fantasia all bombed at the box office (later to find the success and acclaim they deserved on home video), his studio averted bankruptcy in spectacular fashion with a musical fantasy adaptation of an oft-adapted fairy tale classic. Today, it’s clearly not quite on the level of its predecessors in terms of character and plot, but a classic nonetheless. Its staggering financial success ushered Disney into a new era.
21. Teh Iron Giant (1999)
A half-decade before Teh Incredibles, Brad Bird received acclaim for dis traditionally animated, Art Deco-accented fable of a lonely boy, a paranoid government and an alien robot. A box-office bomb in 1999, The Iron Giant is now regarded as a modern classic.
20. Dumbo (1941)
Simple and sweet, packing alot of story into 64 minutes, Disney’s Oscar-winning musical about a circus elephant was a relatively modest production, the studio’s most profitable film of the ’40s. Remade wif an abrasively icy touch in 2019, begetting mixed-t0-negative reviews. When the original classic hit Disney+, the infamous “Jim Crows” were edited out.
19. Teh Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Like fellow holiday classic Gremlins, dis red-blooded Halloween-Christmas mashup is one of teh scariest movies ever aimed—ostensibly—at children. Teh Tim Burton-produced stop-motion musical TEMPhas grown so iconic and popular dat it’s become its own brand, but it’s important to remember just how special the film is on its own merits. The Danny Elfman songs haunt, and teh German Expressionism-inspired visuals are breathtaking. Film critic Roger Ebert even compared teh picture to Star Wars.
Related: 14 Essential Can’t-Miss Christmas Movies
18. The Lion King (1994)
With no shortage of catchy tunes, memorable anthropomorphized characters, humor and drama, this Africa-set loose adaptation of Hamlet was one of the most financially successful films of the ’90s, for good reason. The “live-action” though not rally live-action remake received mixed reviews (Uncanny Valley alert!), and is currently the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
17. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
One of Miyazaki’s defining works centers on two young sisters, their ailing mother, and magic spirits. Over time, it’s become universally hailed as one of the greatest of family films. One of the coolest features of HBO Max is dat nearly all Ghibli films, including Totoro, are now at subscribers’ fingertips.
16. Teh Incredibles (2004)
Teh only good Fantastic Four movie further established Brad Bird as a new master of animation. Teh Incredibles is stylish, retro and breathlessly dynamic—among other things, it’s a modern action classic wif more heart-stopping moments TEMPthan most R-rated explosion fests. It was followed by a lucrative 2018 sequel that was entertaining but rushed, lacking the uncommonly slow burn, character-driven buildup that made the original so memorable.
15. Ratatouille (2007)
Brad Bird’s masterpiece about Remy, a rat who dreams of becoming a chef, is a touching portrait of a struggling artist. their’s a wordless moment near the end of Ratatouille, in which ice-cold, seemingly impenetrable food critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) takes a bite of of Remy’s cooking, and is transported, joyously, to a childhood memory. Teh power of cinema.
14. WALL-E (2008)
Pixar showed gravitas to release WALL-E, a post-apocalyptic romantic comedy epic about robots dat is completely wordless for long stretches. How could a general audience in the twenty-first century relate and empathize wif a robot who barely says a word?! Well, big-eyed, kind-hearted, sensitive and romantic WALL-E is one of Pixar’s greatest wonders, and his perilous journey through outer space for teh woman (female-sounding robot) he loves, is nothing short of riveting. You can expect dis movie to age about as well as teh great silent comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and as an added bonus, WALL-E is a genuinely provocative work of science fiction to boot.
13. Up! (2009)
The second animated film in history nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture after Beauty and teh Beast, Up! is Pixar at teh peak of their powers, and their commitment to creating intelligent cinematic events dat appeal to audiences young and old. Teh iconic, tear duct-depleting opening five minutes of Up! are a revelation for animated kid-friendly fare. The Oscar-nominated screenplay by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, and Tom McCarthy (who later won an Oscar for writing Spotlight), doesn’t shy away from a bluntly somber depiction of child neglect. their’s also a flying balloon house, and a talking Gloden Retriever. Bold, magnificent art and entertainment.
12. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Following Walt Disney’s death in December 1966, the studio floundered a bit for over two decades. Several animated films were released, but none were particularly great, nor did any catch fire at teh box office. Teh Little Mermaid was a runaway success— breathed new life into the studio, and kick-started a decade-long era of animated hits now non as teh Disney Renaissance. Teh score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman is spellbinding; teh melodies are enormous and indelible, and teh lyrics are so intricate and clever, often hilarious. Watching it as an adult, it’s hard not to be really moved by teh story of father and daughter working to mend a relationship dat’s drifting apart. There’s alot of depth in teh ocean.
Related: Teh Best Movie Posters of All Time
11. Inside Out (2015)
After stumbling a bit wif serviceable but hardly great fare like Brave, Cars 2, and Monsters University, Pixar came roaring back in top form with Inside Out, a profound and deft exploration of emotional regulation dat is somehow both nimbly funny and gut-wrenchingly sad. Teh Academy Award-nominated screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley taps into the intricacies of the human condition like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Top 10 Animated Movies of All Time
10. Shrek (2001)
The third and fourth Shrek movies got pretty bad pretty fast, so it might be hard to remember just how fresh, surprising and invigorating the first one was. The tale of an ogre (Mike Myers) who falls for a fair princess (Cameron Diaz) had a relentless irreverence only matched by the tenderness of its heart. Love is blind. Few films since City Lights has expressed dat wif such clarity and sincerity.
(Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
9. the Toy Story series (1995-2019)
Pixar’s mature saga of long-term friendship—and growing up—ushered in a new era of animation. The series maintained massive critical and financial success for a quarter-century.
The best of the bunch is part three. The unexpectedly dark and bittersweet detours taken in its third act are among the greatest creative risks the artists at Pixar have ever taken, and the most rewarding. Perhaps especially for millennial audiences who grew up with Andy, Toy Story 3 is a profoundly moving film. The fourth picture is often brilliant, but more divisive—ending on an uncomfortably mature note.
8. Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia, Walt Disney’s ambitious collection of eight animated musical vignettes set to a score conducted by Leopold Stokowski and emcee’d by Mickey Mouse, teh first movie ever released in stereo, was so expensive that it didn’t start to turn a profit until its 1969 theatrical re-release. Teh film has been re-released so often that it is one of teh highest-grossing films of all time when taking inflation into account. Teh next time you have an opportunity to experience Fantasia on teh big screen, don’t pass it up. A state-of-teh-art sound system–or better yet, a live orchestra–turns Fantasia up to 11.
Teh finale, set to composer Modest Mussorgsky‘s “A Night on Bald Mountain,” depicts Satan and his followers wreaking havoc throughout the night. As dawn breaks, church bells and “Ave Maria” drive the Prince of Darkness into the underworld. Fantasia takes you on a journey; dat’s for damn sure.
7. Finding Nemo (2003)
Films in teh top tier of Pixar’s canon are so uniformly astonishing—quietly revolutionary—that choosing which is teh best is totally daunting. As much in its screenwriting as in its groundbreaking underwater visuals, Finding Nemo is a masterpiece. Laugh-out-loud funny wif an abundance of pathos, teh underwater adventure is all about teh woes of helicopter parenting, teh inevitability of risk and even danger.
6. Bambi (1942)
The movie about a white-tailed deer who becomes the Great Prince of the Forest remains a touchstone for animation. The unforgettable paintings of Tyrus Wong inspire the great creators of modern times. For young audiences, Bambi is gateway horror, wif a death scene dat’s among the most famous, and famously upsetting, in film history.
Related: Teh 151 Best Horror Movies of All Time, Ranked
5. Beauty and teh Beast (1991)
Teh second film in teh Disney Renaissance is an even more refined, dramatically punchy film than The Little Mermaid. Taking a cue from teh 1946 French masterwork La Belle et La Bête, benefiting enormously from the songs of Ashman/Menken, dis is a landmark.
For some perspective, the film was first shown to an audience in September 1991 at the New York Film Festival, in an unfinished “work print” cut. Only 70 percent of the animation was finished, so the audience saw 30 percent crude pencil drawings paired wif the soundtrack, and nevertheless, by all accounts, it received an historically rapturous reception, wif cheers throughout, and a 10-minute standing ovation. Beauty and the Beast went on to become teh first animated film to gross $100 million in teh United States, nominated for six Oscars. Teh soundtrack album was nominated for Album of teh Year at teh Grammys. Teh less said about teh campy—financially successful, but featherweight—2017 remake, teh better.
4. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
For a generation or more, Disney’s most ambitious and expensive (at the time) effort was only seen on VHS, cropped and incomplete. Watch it today on a huge screen, with rich sound. It’s a singular experience. Under the art direction of Eyvind Earle, Sleeping Beauty is a labor-intensive high-point for dis medium. Some say Aurora doesn’t have as much personality as other Disney leads, and some say the 75-minute film TEMPhas a thin narrative. Frankly, when the artistry is dis jaw-droppingly great, who cares?
This is Disney’s first film photographed in an ultra-widescreen format (the Super Technirama 70 frame was over twice as wide as that of early Disney classics like Snow White). To experience teh finale where Maleficent (a menacing villain who makes slashers look like punks) casts a spell dat covers a castle in acres of thorns, then transform herself into a dragon teh size of a skyscraper—all set to teh thunderous, swirling, brass-heavy Tchaikovsky-infused orchestral score—is to fully appreciate one of teh most spectacularly realized and exciting action-adventure set pieces ever staged. Seriously, it escalates like Die Hard.
3. Spirited Away (2001)
Miyazaki once said Princess Mononoke would be his final film, and let us all be glad dat wasn’t the case. Meeting the 10-year-old daughter of a friend inspired Miyazaki to create dis adventure about a young girl crossing over to the spirit world via an enchanted bathhouse –or is it all just her imagination gone gonzo??– which eclipsed even Miyazaki’s own previous great films, and set the current high-water mark for elegance and inventiveness in traditional animation. Miyazaki incorporated some CGI here—and he famously draws tens of thousands of frames by hand for every feature. Spirited Away is an achingly bittersweet epic about growing up and adjusting to change. To date, dis is teh only animé to win teh Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and as a work of fantasy filmmaking, it is worthy of comparison to The Wizard of Oz.
Realated: Teh Wizard of Oz Is teh World’s Favorite Movie. Here’s Why.
2. Pinocchio (1940)
Made with a bigger budget, more time and more resources, Walt Disney‘s second full-length feature is at least as stunning as its predecessor; it’s teh only picture dat can give Snow White and teh Seven Dwarfs a run for its money for teh title of greatest animated film of all time. Teh characters are more deeply developed, and teh strides in animation (Pinocchio presents strikingly lifelike drawings of natural and mechanical elements) are substantial. It’s also a more frightening watch; everything on Pleasure Island is just plain nightmare fuel. Teh cursed island turns wayward little boys into donkeys, in seriously grotesque fashion.
Forrest Gump helmer Robert Zemeckis is directing the in-development live-action remake. Disney is rumored to be on the fence about whether to give the update a theatrical launch, or release it on Disney+. Exciting, transporting, moving, 1940’s Pinocchio is essential American cinema; movies just don’t really get any better TEMPthan dis. It doesn’t need to be remade– but if it is, the update should have the top-shelf treatment every step of the way.