Top 10 Greatest Animated Movies Of All Time

And the best animated movie of all time is…

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In conjunction with the upcoming Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2, we’ve decided to rank the top 10 greatest animated films of all time, not limited to Pixar and Disney (though you will be seeing plenty of those on this list).

But we’re doing it with a fun twist!

Instead of just having a standard piece where one writer ranks these movies from his favourite to least favourite, we got two of our writers, Dash and Samuel, to go their separate ways and score and rank their favourite animated films from 1 to 10. Then we combined their lists and came up with the ranking. What we got was a very interesting list, as these writers have different tastes when it comes to comic book movies.

Once the list is complete, both Dash and Sam talk about their favourite movies that made it on the list, all while commenting on its placement and cursing the other person to death. Much fun!

So without further ado, here are the top 10 greatest animated movies of all time.

10. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

By Samuel Lim

We’re kicking off this list with an anime film. Believe me when I say that this choice was not an easy one to make simply because there’s just so much great works of anime out there! There’s visceral, energetic action of Akira, the beautiful madness of Perfect Blue and the endearing whimsy of Miyazaki’s entire filmography. But for this list, I went with 1995’s edgy, cyberpunk noir anime darling Ghost in the Shell. The name of the film is already a clever illusion to the film’s posthumanist themes, of human consciousness, residing in an inorganic, augmented body. Without giving too much away, the film follows the adventures of cyborg Motoko Kusanagi as she investigates in a number killings committed by hacked cybernetically augmented individuals. Her hunt for the true perpetrator of the crimes, The Puppet Master will lead her down a road that even her programming couldn’t anticipate.

Quoted as the film that inspired the Wachowski’s creation of The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell is a thoughtful exploration of the human condition in a world that is consistently becoming more inorganic.  Author Masamune Shirow’s gritty vision of the future is breathtakingly brought to life by the animators of Production I.G. The way the film seamlessly marries classic hand-drawn cel animation with digital animation can really make a scene, whether in use to create greater depth of field or generate a more ethereal feel. Speaking of contrasts, the way this film uses lighting to build its grim, neon landscape is a thing of beauty, utilizing shadows and flashes to deepen spaces or reflect motion. If you’re looking for a little more noir in your animation, I highly recommend 1995’s Ghost in the Shell. Furthermore Dash, in a battle between strong female characters in animated films, Motoko easily beats Mulan…hands down.


9. Sausage Party (2016)

By Dashran Yohan

I wonder what kinda rare Colombian drugs Seth Rogen and gang injected up their bums to conjure up a whack idea like this because there’s no way anyone thought of this while sober. What was the pitching process like?

Seth Rogen: *High AF, of course* Bro… I just thought of a sick idea.
Evan Goldberg: What is it, bro? *Also, high AF*
Seth Rogen: Imagine Toy Story, only instead of toys, you have food.
Evan Goldberg: Yo, what if the foodstuff fuck?
Seth Rogen: Sick bro!
Evan Goldberg: Bro!
Seth Rogen: Brooo

That pretty much sums up Seth Rogen and gang’s Sausage Party. Or at least that’s what it is on the surface — crude and jam-packed with dark humour. But it’s also the smartest movie of 2016. Devin Faraci (yes, the asshole) put it best when he said, “Sausage Party is a hilarious movie so unwoke, that it’s woke AF.”

Because beneath the raunchy humour is a commentary on tolerance, rationality, racism and a big FU to the farce that is organized religion. It’s genius! Sausage Party is unabashedly atheist, nay, unabashedly logical.  It discusses how humans suppress their biological sexual desires in the name of religion and that causes us nothing but misery. This movie is offensive in the best ways possible and it’s also surprisingly subtle. It’s the kinda humour that your one friend might not get and then when you explain it to him, he’s like, “Holy shit! WHAT? I did not think of that!” It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this one of the best comedies of the decade.

This is a movie where all the different foods are separated into aisles as supermarkets are. Different aisles have their own beliefs. Each aisle thinks their way is the right way. And this system, have kept the foodstuff divided through the ages. And Frank, our protagonist sausage tries to bring everybody together. You see where I’m going with this? I mean, just check this song out, and pay attention to the lyrics.


8. The Lego Movie (2014)

By Samuel Lim

The next entry on this list is something that truly celebrates the spirit of creativity and ingenuity with Lord and Miller’s gorgeously animated The Lego Movie. The duo directors had set out to make a film, no doubt drawing inspiration from Brickfilms of the past, that truly encapsulated the childlike imagination of the eponymous toy. The beauty of Legos is that you don’t have to always follow the model manuals, you could just start stacking isometric blocks and see where it goes. You could make a shark, a giant gun or even a ship from skyscraper parts! Lego Movie understands that wonder and freedom and creates a narrative centred around it about a builder Emmet Brickowski (played Chris Pratt) who is the chosen one who can break free from the confines of the rigid building structure around him. Along the way, you’ll see all sorts of cool properties Lego borrows from like DC’s Justice League and renowned Star Wars characters. Our inner children were squealing with glee.

The level of quality and consistency brought by the animation team here is praiseworthy to say the least. Despite Australian animation studio, Animal Logic use of computer-generated (CG) technology and animation rigs, they managed to vividly recreate the stop-motion effects of classic Brickfilms with smoother and more dynamic action. The way red and orange blocks were used for explosion effects gets us every time. And the music here really made the entire film a truly whimsical experience, especially the Academy nominated soundtrack “Everything is Awesome”. The accolade worthy quality The Lego Movie launched Brickfilms into the forefront of public consciousness. So much so that an entire film franchise around these little isometric guys came to be. The Lego Movie not only broke industry boundaries but also touched the hearts of millions out there. It’s wacky animation, great story and message really does make this film awesome and guarantees a spot here.

7. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

By Samuel Lim

There’s something so unique and yet versatile about stop-motion animation. This particular approach to animation has a remarkable ability to have its creations be curiously charming and deeply unsettling. There are a lot of great choices out there from Anderson’s crime comedy Fantastic Mr Fox to the hilariously horrifying antics of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Ware Rabbit. One film that stood and shoulder over the crowd, however, was the veteran stop-motion studio Laika’s latest project, Kubo and the Two Strings. The story here is both, heart melting in its melancholy, and epic in scale. Kubo, a child to his sick mother Sariatu, has an extraordinary ability to weave create stories and origami characters from playing his two string shamisen. He uses this power to provide for what little family he has left. But when dark forces from the past kidnap his mother, Kubo must find the strength and tools to defeat them, with the help of some unlikely friends along the way.

The premise of this film gives way for some utterly groundbreaking achievements in the field model textures, lighting and claymation. Every character, model and set in this world is painstakingly made from hand with a unique Japanese aesthetical motif in mind. From the way the villainous sisters Karasu and Washi mirror Kabuki thespians to the origami magic Kubo employs, you can tell Laika went all the way with this theme. Kubo and the Two Strings is mature and complex story about well…stories and how it shapes our beliefs and reality. It’ll inspire, entertain and most definitely tug on a few heartstrings. If you’re not a huge fan of stop-motion animation, this film makes a strong case for why you should be interested in the genre. This could have easily made top three on this list if it wasn’t for Dash’s love for Disney movies. There are other studios out there too, man!

6. Inside Out (2015)

By Dashran Yohan

What in the world is Inside Out doing at number 6? This is bullshit! Hey, what am I to do if some people *cough* Sam *cough* don’t appreciate the sheer genius of this movie.

Inside Out, a fantastic movie on all fronts is perhaps Pixar’s least fantastical affair. There are no superheroes, no talking cars and no one-eyed annoying monsters. This movie is grounded in reality as we watch our protagonist, Riley go to school, play hockey, argue with her parents and sleep. But, I’m merely scratching the surface here. The true characters are the colourful bundle of emotions living in her head and it is their journey, particularly Joy and Sadness’, that we follow.

Sadness makes a poor first impression and immediately, we’re led to believe that she’s the antagonist of sorts. Then the movie turns completely on its head, empowering this character/emotion. In a world where we’re constantly told not to be sad, it’s not as bad as you think and look on the bright side, Inside Out tells the truth: Life is at times fu*ked up and instead of pretending that everything is okay, it’s best to face reality and deal with it before moving on.

I was blown away. There are a lot of great animated movies. But Inside Out is the smartest. I even compare it to The Matrix — no I have not lost my mind. When the end credits of The Matrix rolled, it wasn’t the brilliant action sequences I was thinking about, but instead, the deep themes and questions that the movie brings up. I asked myself, “What if it’s true?” I asked that same question watching Inside Out, which is probably why I failed science in high school.

5. Prince of Egypt (1998)

By Samuel Lim

Before the time of Shrek, Madagascar and their other CG heavy films, Dreamworks Studio was a seen as a contender to Disney with their classic 2D animated films. And though Dreamworks would lose the war (evident by Disney’s clear monopoly on this list) and 2D animation become a relic of a bygone era, they still gave the Mouse and friends a run for their money in 1998 when they released their biblical musical epic, The Prince of Egypt. The film revolves around Moses, an Israelite who is adopted by an Egyptian queen. He lives a sheltered and privileged life, unaware of his slave heritage and the persecution of his people. But his entire life takes a divine detour when he is charged by God himself to confront the evils of Egypt and his adoptive brother Pharaoh Ramesses. One way or another, and at great personal cost, Moses will see his people free.

The story is a tale as old as time but with clever direction and certain creative liberties taken, Dreamworks manages to inject a whole new life into the narrative. We don’t just see Moses as a stern, steadfast prophet but also a conflicted brother and an unlikely leader to his people. It makes his story more personal and human. But make no mistake, nothing quite captures God’s wrath quite like the ten plagues He lets loose upon Egypt, all gloriously rendered with traditional animation and CG imagery. Trust me, man, it is something out of a horror movie when the Spirit of Death moved across Egypt, absolute chills.

The amount of love and care that went into constructing the architecture of this world is also an admirable feat. And the score is absolutely phenomenal. Hans Zimmer, the man responsible for the score of The Dark Knight and Interstellar, brings us an amazing auditory treat. If you have the chance, go listen to the Burning Bush track, even without the visuals it will still leave you in tears! Prince of Egypt is a powerful universal tale of faith and family, artistically animated and brilliantly scored. And though I’m glad it made it on the list, it certainly deserves to be far higher on this list. Dreamworks might have lost the war to Disney but their victory here is timeless.

4. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) 

By Dashran Yohan

Who says I only like Disney/Pixar animated films, huh?

When discussing the greatest animated films of all time, Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon rarely gets a mention (which is ridiculous, by the way) In fact, it wasn’t even on Sam’s personal top 10 list, which means it ALMOST didn’t make it on this list (also ridiculous). This movie is the very definition of underrated. But I wasn’t having it.  I screamed and I yelled. We engaged in an arm-wrestling competition, a violent cage fight and then an intense and brutal game of rock-paper-scissors, and at long last, the movie made it to the top 5.

A lot of people have not seen this movie and if you’re one of those then treat yourself to it right now. This is a simple story, about a young boy who wants to prove his worth to his peers and his family, taking place in a gorgeous world that you can chew on for days. It has a lot of heart and great emotional beats. It also has Vikings and swords and axes and ships and ass-kicking and DRAGONS. Not to mention a musical score by John Powell so badass, you can feel it bursting out of the speakers and delivering a roundhouse kick to your eardrums.

Another movie was released in this very same year. It, unsurprisingly, received all the accolades during awards season. That movie is great. How to Train Your Dragon is greater.

3. Toy Story 3 (2010)

By Samuel Lim 

What’s this? Another Pixar film on this list? Why am I not surprised? Throughout the years, Pixar Studios has been the golden boy of the industry. To be fair, there are many reasons why they’ve thrived this long but one particular reason is because of the amount creative autonomy afforded to them by their Disney overlords. They tell the studio they want to make a movie about circus bugs and killer grasshoppers? Approved. One about an old man, talking dogs and a flying balloon house? Why the hell not. So is it any real surprise that their idea for a story about anthropomorphic toys trapped in a daycare centre, being tortured by rambunctious kids and a vindictive teddy bear gets greenlit? No, and guess what it’s actually a pretty amazing film. Woody’s toys that we’ve come to know and love have been outgrown by their owner. In a desperate search for a new home and to be played again, they sneak into a donation box to a daycare centre. Things take a grim turn when they realized that they must endure constant abuse and mistreatment at the hands of toddlers. Now they must escape this hell before they are thoroughly destroyed.

This is some heavy shit for kids to watch! A lot of their circumstances are made to reflect the horrors of that the Jews endured at the hand of the Nazis. A lost and forgotten people, the toys harrowing journey to safety will have you biting your nails and scared for dear life. And all this horror is brought to life in stunning detail with Pixar’s signature trademark quality. The very grim scene in which the toys are about to melted down was absolutely heart wrenching. Toy Story 3 is the Schindler’s List of the animated world. Highly disturbing, thoroughly engaging and beautifully made, Toy Story 3 will make you question the reality of consciousness and the innocence of children. This film holds a special place on this list and our nightmares. I seriously love this film but if I see one more Pixar film on this list I swear…

2. The Lion King (1994)

By Samuel Lim

The Lion King is a little overhyped. There I said it okay, sue me! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll admit that this is the crowning jewel of Disney’s 2D renaissance era and for a while was the golden (if not silver) standard for what animated films should strive to be. The only reason it made it THIS high is that it was one of the three similar movies on both our personal lists.

That said, there are plenty of things to celebrate about it and also some glaring issues. At this point in time, what was once revolutionary for its day is now iconic in pop culture. The story draws inspiration from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, seeing members of the ruling family of Pride Rock turn on each other. When prince Simba’s insidious uncle Scar murders King Mufasa and frames it all on the young cub, the guilt-ridden heir goes into self-imposed exile. But when he hears that his kingdom is in ruins and the balance of life imperil, he must put aside his shame and become the lion he was meant to be. He must become a lion king.

Truly a landmark film in 2D animation, The Lion King had seized the imagination of an entire generation and placed Disney studios on the map. They showed the world that their animated films weren’t made to pander towards kids but that they could be something deeper. They could be used to tell rich political drama, tragic human stories and show people a world beyond their own. This film exemplified Disney’s bold vision with its stunning visuals, great voice talents and a legendary score done by the one and only Hans Zimmer! Just try to find someone who hasn’t heard of the soundtrack “Circle of Life”, you’ll find that it’s near impossible. The Lion King is a great animated film except… there’s just one problem.

A huge chunk of the plot was seemingly plagiarized from an earlier Japanese animated film made in 1966 called Kimba the White Lion. Both discussed and bore similar themes of the balance of life and told a tale of family politics. There’s even an evil uncle in Kimba named Claw! Claw? Scar? See a pattern here? Does this invalidate Disney’s success? It’s hard to say but in my mind, it certainly takes it down a few pegs. And while the film does make improvements over its eastern counterpart and introduces some original elements, it would be disingenuous to call it a standalone success.  

1. The Incredibles (2004)

By Dashran Yohan

Note: No, Disney didn’t pay us to put The Incredibles at number one. Disney didn’t pay us anything as evident from my nonexistent Ferrari and very existent empty wallet. We made this list before Disney approached us about the merchandises.

If The Incredibles didn’t top this list, we riot. Right? And believe me, I already had my pitchfork and giant signages ready. This was one of the three similar movies Sam and I had on our personal lists — the other two being The Lion King and The Lego Movie. And The Incredibles barely edged out The Lion King. Good fight, but the better and rightful movie won.

Listen up buddy, this isn’t just the best animated film of all time, it is also one of the best superhero films, period. And just like most Pixar films, there is a smartness to the screenplay that just catches you off-guard. The film starts with superheroes in their heyday. They’re celebrated public figures and atop the mountain is one superstrong Mr Incredible (who goes on to marry Elastigirl — powers are self-explanatory). Everything is just dandy until one day, Mr Incredible injures a man while saving him falling from a building. As it turns out, the man was committing suicide and didn’t want to be saved. But because of Mr Incredible’s actions, he now has to pay expensive hospital bills and live a life he doesn’t want to. He sues Mr Incredible — like I said, brilliant! Across the globe, superheroes face lawsuits and are ostracized until they’re forced out of superhero-ing by the government.

And then, our story begins. This is an exciting, kinetic superhero movie on the surface, with riveting action sequences and creative power combos that would only work in an animated format. But more importantly, it is a story about a family trying to cope with their everyday lives. Mr and Mrs Incredible are having marital issues. Their adolescent daughter Violet is struggling to be a teenager. Their son, Dash, constantly gets into trouble in school. They also have a newborn Jack-Jack and babies aren’t easy to deal with.

What’s awesome is that their powers also reflect who they are. The stoic manly man Mr Incredible has superstrength. Mrs Incredible who has to juggle between doing house chores, cooking and taking care of the three kids can stretch. Violet, who is insecure has the gift of invisibility. Dash, who’s a ball of energy is a speedster. And Jack-Jack has a billion different abilities, a reflection of a baby’s unpredictability. Even the villain isn’t your paint by numbers, “take over the world” garbage. Syndrome, who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is Mr Incredible’s ghost of Christmas past, back to haunt him because of his past mistakes. This movie is perfect.

Every single movie on this list is great. But what separates this from the pack is that I can watch The Incredibles over and over and over and over and over again but the rest only over and over again.

**After deliberation, the ranking of Inside Out and Sausage Party have been swapped.

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Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of our ranking? Do you agree with it or do you think it’s hot garbage? Share with us your ranking of these movies!

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