Best animated films of all time, according to critics

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January 31, 2021
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Best animated films of all time, according to critics

Animated films have long outgrown their made-for-kids clothes. In fact, as any true movie-lover can attest, animated films today rub elbows with the greatest live-action movies of all time. What was once primarily relegated to the family genre is a full spectrum of animated styles, subjects, and motifs. They join an already legendary list of classic works from production houses like Studio Ghibli and Pixar.

Whether tackling mature themes, including everything from genocide and the criminal justice system, or aiming strictly for the family genre, the top animated films deliver far more quality than one might expect. Even films that were marketed as family-friendly are still able to dig deep to offer existential lessons to children, wrapped in subtlety, while still offering entertainment, humor, charm, and depth for adults. And then there are animated films that are decades-long classics and simply delightful, purely for delight’s sake.

What they all have in common is that they sit next to a range of live-action masterpieces in terms of durability and timelessness. In 2001, Best Animated Feature was a category added to the Academy Awards. Proving as much are the critical reviews, which can be downright gushing when the movie is well-executed.

But which animated films do critics hail as the best of all time (as of January 2021)? Stacker analyzed data from Metacritic for the answer. To qualify for the forthcoming list of 100 (from worst to first), each film needed at least four professional reviews. In the case of a ratings tie, the film with more reviews ranked higher on the list. Live-action films with occasional animated sequences were not considered for inclusion.

Has your favorite animated film made the cut? Keep reading to find out what the critics had to say.

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1 / 100
Walt Disney Pictures

#100. Zootopia (2016)

- Directors: Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 108 minutes

This $1 billion worldwide box office baby from Disney takes place in the city of Zootopia, home to animals from all walks of life. Ready to prove herself as a rookie cop is a bunny named Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), who uncovers a vast and deadly conspiracy. With help from a con artist fox (voiced by Jason Bateman), Judy tries to crack the case before the city itself falls apart at the seams.

2 / 100
ABC Animation

#99. A Silent Voice (2017)

- Director: Naoko Yamada
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 130 minutes

Based on a manga series of the same name, this anime-style teen drama grapples with the theme of bullying. When a young deaf student gets ridiculed by one of her peers, she decides to move away. Years later, the bully who ridiculed her embarks on a quest for redemption.

3 / 100
Rocks In My Pockets

#98. Rocks in My Pockets (2014)

- Director: Signe Baumane
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Using her distinctive animation style, Latvian artist Signe Baumane explores the relationship between genetics and madness in this singular comedy-drama. Set over the course of decades, the film depicts the personal struggles of Baumane and four other women in her family. Many of the story's events occur against a backdrop of political and economic turmoil.

4 / 100
Zhao Wei Films

#97. Tatsumi (2012)

- Director: Eric Khoo
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 96 minutes

The life and work of Japanese mangaka Yoshihiro Tatsumi leapt onto the big screen with this animated drama. The film follows its protagonist as he goes from a young comic book artist to the inventor of a new genre. In addition to depicting Tatsumi's personal exploits, the film includes adaptations of his short stories.

5 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#96. Castle in the Sky (1989)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 125 minutes

This heralded fantasy adventure features director Hayao Miyazaki's classic animation style at a time when he was more of a local legend than global icon. In possession of a magic crystal, a young boy and girl must outmaneuver various enemies as they search for a floating castle. This was the first full-length feature animated by Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki's studio.

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6 / 100
Platige Image

#95. Another Day of Life (2019)

- Directors: Damian Nenow, Raúl de la Fuente
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Inspired by the works of war correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski comes this animated powerhouse about the Angolan civil war. Strictly designed for adults, the movie chronicles Kapuscinski's experience covering the civil war, which centered around Portuguese colonialism, the diamond and oil trade, and Cold War geopolitics.

7 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#94. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

- Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 76 minutes

Opposites attract in this 1955 classic about the budding romance between a streetwise mutt and an uptown cocker spaniel. As the two canines join lips while eating spaghetti, they share what might very well be the most famous kiss in animation history. It's all brought to life in the kind of visual style that only Disney could execute at the time.

8 / 100
Apple Corps

#93. Yellow Submarine (1968)

- Director: George Dunning
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 90 minutes

The Beatles bandmates reportedly kept their distance from this animated adventure as it was being developed, and didn't even provide the voices for their caricature-esque counterparts. "Yellow Submarine" follows John, Paul, George, and Ringo as they journey to Pepperland to liberate the locals from the music-hating Blue Meanies. The Fab Four eventually came around when they saw the finished product, which features Beatles music and endures as a seminal work.

9 / 100
Aardman Animations

#92. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020)

- Directors: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Long-time film buffs will recognize Shaun the Sheep as originally a supporting character in the classic, Wallace and Gromit. Shaun was given his own spinoff in 2007, and he's back at it again for an adventure that blends sci-fi with silly shenanigans. According to RogerEbert.com, it's akin to E.T. with Shaun the Sheep in the role of Elliott.

10 / 100
Walt Disney Studios

#91. Tarzan (1999)

- Directors: Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 88 minutes

Disney was coming down off a huge peak when it delivered this 1999 animated adventure, which some say marked the end of an era. After being raised by gorillas, Tarzan must choose between the animal world and the human one. Phil Collins won an Academy Award for writing the movie's main ballad, “You'll Be in My Heart.”

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11 / 100
Les Films d'Ici

#90. Funan (2019)

- Director: Denis Do
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 84 minutes

This heart-wrenching-if-vitally-important tale tells the story of a Cambodian family torn apart during Khmer Rouge-mandated migrations in the 1970s. The story centers on the parents' struggle to escape slavery and reunite with their son.

12 / 100
Amuse

#89. Your Name (2017)

- Director: Makoto Shinkai
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 106 minutes

Makoto Shinkai adapted his own novel when making this anime-style fantasy drama. It centers on a teenage boy in Tokyo and a teenage girl in rural Japan who possess the ability to swap bodies with one another. When the two strangers try to connect in real life, they discover it isn't just distance keeping them apart.

13 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#88. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

- Directors: David Silverman, Lee Unkrich, Pete Docter
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Billy Crystal and John Goodman lend their voices to two monsters named Mike and Sulley in this computer-animated smash hit. It takes place in the city of Monstropolis, where children's screams keep the power on at night. When a young girl gets loose on Mike and Sulley's watch, they must return her to the human world before anyone else finds her.

14 / 100
Intaba Creative

#87. Liyana (2018)

- Directors: Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 77 minutes

This unconventional movie serves as a testament to the power of collective imagination. "Liyana" centers on five orphans in the country formerly known as Swaziland, who collaborate on the story of a heroic Swazi girl named Liyana. Alternating between harsh reality and epic fantasy, the movie uses distinctive computer animation to depict Liyana's adventures. The film took home Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

15 / 100
Focus Features

#86. Coraline (2009)

- Director: Henry Selick
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 100 minutes

It took the stop-motion animation wizards at Laika Studios more than four years to create this fantasy film, with 500 people involved in the process. "Coraline" is based on a book by Neil Gaiman and follows its adventurous title character into a secret parallel world. “The results are nothing short of magical,” according to Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club,

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16 / 100
GKIDS / Filme de Papel

#85. Boy and the World (2015)

- Director: Alê Abreu
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 95 minutes

Awash with thrilling animation and virtually no dialogue, this Brazilian adventure follows a young boy as he searches for his father. Filmmaker Alê Abreu created the work by blending digital animation, painting, and drawing in a vivid tapestry. One critic described "Boy and the World" as a “wordless animated gem.”

17 / 100
Twentieth Century Fox

#84. The Simpsons Movie (2007)

- Director: David Silverman
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 87 minutes

Bringing the world's foremost animated family onto the big screen, this adventure comedy finds the Simpsons fleeing Springfield after Homer causes an environmental catastrophe. The animation style is consistent with the TV series, though many of the sequences and set pieces are far more elaborate. The movie's creators spent years in development and went through a reported 166 drafts of the script before landing on the final product.

18 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#83. Howl's Moving Castle (2005)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 119 minutes

Hayao Miyazaki was on top of the world when he unleashed this acclaimed family adventure, in which a young woman falls victim to a witch's curse. The only person capable of reversing the spell is a magician named Howl, who inhabits his own moving castle. As with all of Miyazaki's films, this one features his distinctive hand-drawn anime style.

19 / 100
Norman Twain Productions

#82. My Dog Tulip (2010)

- Directors: Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 83 minutes

Based on a memoir, this animated drama chronicles the 15-year friendship between British novelist J. R. Ackerley and his German shepherd. Not to be confused with a family film, “My Dog Tulip” candidly tackles a range of explicit subjects. Directors Paul and Sandra Fierlinger created the movie's distinct and somewhat vintage aesthetic by hand-drawing images on a computer.

20 / 100
Walt Disney Pictures

#81. Incredibles 2 (2018)

- Director: Brad Bird
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 118 minutes

It might have been released 14 years after the original, but this long-awaited sequel picks up right where the first one left off. The story follows Mrs. Incredible as she tries to stop a villain known only as The Screen Slaver. Back at home, Mr. Incredible discovers that baby Jack-Jack might very well be the family's most powerful member.

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21 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#80. The Secret World of Arrietty (2012)

- Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 94 minutes

Studio Ghibli offers its own take on the classic children's book, “The Borrowers,” with this anime-style fantasy. It centers on The Clocks, a group of tiny people who secretly live inside the home of a much larger family. During its North American theatrical run, “The Secret World of Arrietty” became the fourth-highest-grossing anime film of all time in the United States.

22 / 100
Madhouse

#79. Paprika (2006)

- Director: Satoshi Kon
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 90 minutes

This stunning Japanese thriller based on a novel of the same name centers on a futuristic machine that gives therapists the ability to enter their patients' dreams. When the machine ends up in the wrong hands, the real world and dream world begin to merge. This mind-bender of a film serves as a clear predecessor to Christopher Nolan's “Inception.”

23 / 100
Early Bird Pictures

#78. Mirai (2018)

- Director: Mamoru Hosoda
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 98 minutes

Mamoru Hosoda's acclaimed fantasy chronicles the adventures of an erratic 4-year-old boy named Kun, who grows jealous with the arrival of his baby sister. Upon discovering a secret garden in his own backyard, Kun travels through time to meet with various ancestors. This was the first non-Studio Ghibli anime film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

24 / 100
Xilam

#77. I Lost My Body (2019)

- Director: Jérémy Clapin
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 81 minutes

A Cannes prize-winner, "I Lost My Boy" is a dark fairytale that begins in Paris in the mid-1990s. The first few moments of the movie set the stage as the main character has his hand removed violently. A series of adventures throughout the rest of the film show him struggling to make himself whole again, both physically and emotionally, according to IndieWire.

25 / 100
YouTube

#76. Consuming Spirits (2012)

- Director: Chris Sullivan
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 136 minutes

Filmmaker Chris Sullivan employs an array of jarring animation styles to explore the lives of three small-town characters in this idiosyncratic comedy-drama. The film—which shifts between time periods and tackles themes of poverty, madness, despair, and alcoholism—frequently culls from Sullivan's personal experiences. In his review for Slate Magazine, critic Joseph Jon Lanthier called it “one of the most uniquely humanistic animated features of all time.”

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26 / 100
Disney

#75. Moana (2016)

- Directors: Chris Williams, Don Hall, John Musker, Ron Clements
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Inspired by Polynesian origin myths, this 3D computer-animated Disney movie finds a small island community dealing with an ancient curse. The community's only hope is a brave young explorer named Moana, who embarks on a treacherous voyage across the sea. Rumor has it that Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the score for "Moana," is working on a follow-up.

27 / 100
Cromosoma

#74. Wrinkles (2014)

- Director: Ignacio Ferreras
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 89 minutes

This 2D animated drama based on a Spanish comic strip takes place at a senior care facility. As he grapples with the early stages of Alzheimer's, a resident named Emilio forms a friendship with another resident named Miguel. Miguel helps Emilio avoid being sent to the facility's dreaded top floor, alternately known as the “assisted” floor, by resorting to a range of crafty schemes.

28 / 100
Lionsgate

#73. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

- Directors: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 85 minutes

The British series “Shaun the Sheep” spun off from the popular “Wallace & Gromit” franchise back in 2007. Years later, the stop-motion animated sheep received a movie all his own. It follows Shaun from the rural countryside to the big city, where all sorts of misadventures await.

29 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#72. Coco (2017)

- Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 105 minutes

Pixar's most recent release expands upon the traditional musical by making music itself the most persistent motif. Set in Mexico, “Coco” follows an aspiring young musician into the Land of the Dead. There, he learns the real story behind his own family history.

30 / 100
Les Armateurs

#71. The Secret of Kells (2010)

- Directors: Nora Twomey, Tomm Moore
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 75 minutes

Mixing history and fantasy to brilliant effect, this animated adventure takes place in medieval Europe. To help a master illuminator complete a magical book, a young boy must overcome his darkest fears by venturing deep into the forest. The film's bold aesthetic draws from a well of influences, including medieval art, and both Japanese and American animation styles.

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31 / 100
Studio Colorido Co.

#70. Penguin Highway (2019)

- Director: Hiroyasu Ishida
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 118 minutes

A mysterious influx of penguins grips a small town, where a bookish kid, Aoyama, begins to dream up myriad hypotheses for what brought them to his town. It is the first feature film from director Hiroyasu Ishida.

32 / 100
Naked Edge Films

#69. The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest (2015)

- Director: Gabriel London
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 92 minutes

This animated film tells the frustrating, true story of Mark DeFriest. It exposes the gaping chasms in the U.S. penal system, as DeFriest is clearly mentally ill and incarcerated for a crime that should have been treated with mental help, not jail time.

33 / 100
Les Films Sauvages

#68. The Girl Without Hands (2017)

- Director: Sébastien Laudenbach
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 76 minutes

French filmmaker Sébastien Laudenbach adapts a Grimm Brothers fairy tale of the same name to tell the story of a miller's daughter. Sold to the devil by her father, the daughter loses her hands while escaping from hell. Further distinguishing the dark tale is Laudenbach's kinetic, watercolor-style animation.

34 / 100
American Empirical Pictures

#67. Isle of Dogs (2018)

- Director: Wes Anderson
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 101 minutes

Wes Anderson's second stop-motion animated film takes place in Japan, where all dogs have been exiled on the heels of a dog flu outbreak. Unwilling to forever part with his beloved pet Spots, a young boy named Atari sets out to get the dog back. Numerous celebrities lent their voices, including Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, and Yoko Ono.

35 / 100
Cartuna

#66. Nuts! (2016)

- Director: Penny Lane
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 79 minutes

This mind-warp of an animated film is, according to IndieWire, "a seriocomic story of passion and desperation," which follows the story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a celebrity medical practitioner and radio mogul. The documentary is full of shocking twists, contemporary interviews, and hand-drawn animation and touches on everything from the First Amendment to country music and the pharmaceutical industry.

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36 / 100
Disney Enterprises

#65. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

- Director: Henry Selick
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 76 minutes

Tim Burton developed the story and characters for this musical masterpiece, which endures as one of the greatest achievements in the history of stop-motion animation. It sees chaos coming to Halloween Town after local leader Jack Skellington tries to invoke a little Christmas spirit. Skellington's decision to kidnap Santa Claus certainly doesn't help.

37 / 100
Pathé

#64. The Illusionist (2010)

- Director: Sylvain Chomet
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 80 minutes

Filmmaker Sylvain Chomet adapted an unproduced script by 20th century director Jacques Tati to offer an animated take on what was originally a live-action premise. Set in 1959, the acclaimed drama follows a Parisian illusionist as he falls out of favor during rock and roll's meteoric ascent. That sends him on a journey to Scotland, where his life is forever changed by a young woman.

38 / 100
Ann Marie Fleming

#63. Window Horses (2017)

- Director: Ann Marie Fleming
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 85 minutes

Asian-Canadian filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming raised more than $80,000 on Indiegogo to finance this Oscar-nominated drama. Juxtaposing a bevy of hand-drawn styles, the movie follows a young poet to Iran to perform at a poetry festival. By finding common ground between multiple cultures, Fleming provides a poignant counterpunch to modern xenophobia.

39 / 100
Fox Searchlight

#62. Waking Life (2001)

- Director: Richard Linklater
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 99 minutes

Richard Linklater is best known as the man behind movies like “Boyhood” and “Dazed and Confused,” but he also churned out this surrealist meditation on the meaning of life. It follows a young man through a dreamy landscape as he talks about the universe with a variety of people. The film's animated palette comes by way of special computer software that allows artists to sketch over video images in a fashion similar to rotoscoping (a technique in which actors are filmed and then later traced over by animators).

40 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#61. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

- Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 79 minutes

Long before Disney's 1996 live-action version, there was this original animated classic. It centers on a litter of Dalmatian puppies abducted by a villainess named Cruella de Vil. The movie's rugged and atypical animation style comes as a result of xerography, a dry photocopying process that helped Disney cut costs.

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41 / 100
JAL

#60. Porco Rosso (1992)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 94 minutes

Hayao Miyazaki adapted his own three-part watercolor manga series for this adventure comedy, which takes place in 1930s Italy. "Porco Rosso" tells the story of an ex-fighter pilot turned high-flying bounty hunter, who makes a living by saving kidnap victims from ruthless “air pirates.” When a strange curse turns him into an anthropomorphic pig, the pilot takes on the name of Porco Rosso (Italian for “Red Pig”).

42 / 100
Warner Bros.

#59. The LEGO Movie (2014)

- Directors: Christopher Miller, Phil Lord
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 100 minutes

"The LEGO Movie" brims with hilarious meta-jokes, celebrity voices, sophisticated themes, and at least one unforgettable song. The adventure-comedy centers on an average LEGO construction worker named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), who sparks a revolution against an evil capitalist overlord known as Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell). The movie's visual style combined CGI with some stop-motion animation and a touch of live action.

43 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#58. The Wind Rises (2013)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 126 minutes

Hayao Miyazaki's most mature effort to date once again finds him revisiting aviation history, minus the fantasy element. Inspired by the true story of Jirô Horikoshi, the movie chronicles Jirô's life as the innovative designer behind the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter airplane. Some critics took the movie to task over its perceived glamorization of Japan's imperialist past, but Miyazaki would attest it was Horikoshi's “extraordinary genius” that drew him into the story.

44 / 100
Warner Bros.

#57. Corpse Bride (2005)

- Directors: Mike Johnson, Tim Burton
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 77 minutes

A sheepish groom accidentally marries a deceased woman in this stop-motion animated fantasy drama. Tim Burton and his animators used precision-crafted clockwork heads for the puppets, allowing for greater degrees of facial subtlety. One animator reported having nightmares about adjusting his own face in the very same way.

45 / 100
Walt Disney Studios

#56. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 104 minutes

Set in a world where humans and cartoons co-exist, this 1988 blockbuster asks who framed Hollywood ‘toon star Roger Rabbit for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Roger turns to a cartoon-hating detective (Bob Hoskins) for help. With its budget of $70 million (about $150 million in today's dollars), this was the most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release.

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46 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#55. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Critical darling Hayao Miyazaki makes the list yet again with this coming-of-age fantasy film. It follows a young witch named Kiki as she struggles to fit in with a small seaside community. Gifted with the ability to fly, Kiki earns a living by launching her own air delivery service.

47 / 100
Walt Disney Pictures

#54. Soul (2020)

- Directors: Kemp Powers, Pete Docter
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Pixar's Soul tackles existential questions while following the life (and afterlife) of a New York City jazz musician. It's one of the first U.S. animated films to tackle such metaphysical concepts, according to The New York Times. It is also one of the first animated films to truly do justice to the frenetics of New York City.

48 / 100
Twentieth Century Fox

#53. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

- Director: Wes Anderson
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 87 minutes

Filmmaker Wes Anderson brings a Roald Dahl tale to life by way of singular stop-motion animation. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" pits an anthropomorphic fox and his animal community against the wrath of a vengeful farmer. Anderson's team constructed numerous puppets while paying meticulous attention to detail, spending $83,000 on the first Mr. Fox puppet alone.

49 / 100
DreamWorks Animation

#52. Shrek (2001)

- Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 90 minutes

Loosely based on a picture book, this wildly successful CGI comedy takes place in a world inhabited by classic fairy tale characters. In order to reclaim his swampland, an ogre named Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and his wisecracking donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) must rescue Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) from the clutches of an evil dragon. Shrek's character was so iconic that he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

50 / 100
Focus Features

#51. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

- Director: Travis Knight
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 101 minutes

"Kubo and the Two Strings" represents the directorial debut of Laika Studios president and CEO Travis Knight. The stop-motion animated fantasy takes place in feudal Japan where, to escape the wrath of vengeful spirits, a young boy must track down his deceased father's Samurai armor. As is typical with Laika Studios projects, "Kubo and the Two Strings" involved building numerous set pieces and puppets from scratch.

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51 / 100
Pixar Animation Studios

#50. Toy Story 4 (2019)

- Director: Josh Cooley
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 100 minutes

The last of the internationally beloved franchise, Toy Story 4 wraps it up with the introduction of Forky, a plastic spork with eyes, Popsicle stick feet and pipe cleaner arms. According to RogerEbert.com, Toy Story 4 is an existential story about becoming obsolete and boring, no longer special in the eyes of someone who held you so dearly.

52 / 100
Warner Bros.

#49. The Iron Giant (1999)

- Director: Brad Bird
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 86 minutes

What was originally an overlooked animated adventure has become a modern-day cult classic. "The Iron Giant" chronicles the adventures of a young boy and his giant alien robot friend as they flee from a paranoid government agent. Legendary storyteller Brad Bird was inspired to make the film after asking himself the question, “What if a gun had a soul?”

53 / 100
Walt Disney Pictures

#48. The Three Caballeros (1945)

- Director: Bill Roberts, Clyde Geronimi, Harold Young, Jack Kinney, Norman Ferguson
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 71 minutes

Long before “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” there came this overlooked family comedy from 1945, which likewise blended live-action and animation. Set during Donald Duck's birthday, "The Three Caballeros" sends the beloved Disney character on three Latin-themed adventures. The film was preceded by a much shorter live-action animation hybrid called “Saludos Amigos.”

54 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#47. Cinderella (1950)

- Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 74 minutes

This iconic family film singlehandedly saved Walt Disney Studios from the brink of collapse. It's no wonder Cinderella's castle takes center stage in the Disney universe, or that Walt Disney himself said his favorite moment in animation history came when Cinderella got her gown. In the story, the downtrodden daughter of a wicked stepmother sneaks her way to the ball and fulfills her destiny.

55 / 100
Rita Productions

#46. My Life as a Zucchini (2017)

- Director: Claude Barras
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 70 minutes

This Swiss-French comedy-drama follows a young boy to a packed foster home where he discovers the true meaning of love and friendship. To create the work, director Claude Barras called upon a traveling network of stop-motion animators. "My Life as a Zucchini" was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards, and even shortlisted as Switzerland's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

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56 / 100
Je Suis Bien Content

#45. April and the Extraordinary World (2016)

- Director: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 105 minutes

This French adventure offers an alternative version of history as it imagines a world in which some of the 20th century's greatest discoveries never took place. The movie follows a young girl named Avril (or April in English) as she searches for her missing scientist parents in 1941. In his review for the Austin Chronicle, film critic Marc Savlov described the movie as “amazingly original and jaw-droppingly entertaining.”

57 / 100
Walt Disney Studios

#44. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

- Director: Clyde Geronimi
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 75 minutes

Disney's 16th animated feature marked the end of an era: The studio didn't adapt another fairy tale for several decades. In "Sleeping Beauty," Princess Aurora succumbs to a vicious spell that can only be reversed by the kiss of her true love. The film was a financial disappointment upon its release, but today is regarded as a bona fide classic.

58 / 100
GKIDS

#43. Song of the Sea (2014)

- Director: Tomm Moore
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 93 minutes

This animated fantasy from Europe centers on a pair of Irish siblings named Ben and Saoirse. When Ben discovers that Saoirse is actually a shape-shifting creature known as a selkie, the two embark on a thrilling adventure across the sea. As with his previous work, filmmaker Tomm Moore employs exquisite hand-drawn animation.

59 / 100
GKids

#42. Ernest & Célestine (2014)

- Directors: Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 80 minutes

Based on a series of children's books, this Franco-Belgian fantasy accordingly features storybook-like animation. "Ernest & Célestine" takes place in a world where bears live in cities and rodents dwell underground and follows the unlikely friendship between a street-performing bear and a young mouse. Facing prejudice on all sides, the two friends boldly challenge the misguided principles of their respective societies.

60 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#41. Ponyo (2009)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 101 minutes

A young goldfish named Ponyo lies at the heart of Hayao Miyazaki's animated adventure. After falling in love with a five-year-old boy, Ponyo uses her father's magic to take the form of a human girl. As with some of Miyazaki's previous work, the story grapples with themes of environmental destruction and the fragility of the natural world.

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61 / 100
Walt Disney Pictures

#40. Aladdin (1992)

- Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 90 minutes

With a live-action remake in the works, now is the perfect time to revisit this animated classic from 1992. "Aladdin" follows a scrappy street urchin by the same name who chances upon a genie's lamp and uses one of his wishes to become a powerful prince. Comedian Robin Williams provided the voice for the genie, ad-libbing so many lines that it cost the movie an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

62 / 100
Disney

#39. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1985)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 117 minutes

One of Hayao Miyazaki's earliest feature-length films is also one of his best. It tells the story of a peace-loving warrior named Princess Nausicaä who attempts to prevent two battling nations from destroying the planet. "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" takes place in an apocalyptic wasteland and presents viewers with important messages about environmentalism.

63 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#38. The Red Turtle (2017)

- Director: Michael Dudok de Wit
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 80 minutes

Studio Ghibli co-produced this dialogue-free fantasy film about a shipwrecked man and his encounters with a mysterious red turtle. Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit directed and co-wrote the work, incorporating hand-drawn and digital 2D animation. "The Red Turtle" won Un Certain Regard—Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

64 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#37. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 86 minutes

Two young girls forge a friendship with a forest spirit in this animated fantasy from Hayao Miyazaki. The renowned director incorporated autobiographical elements into the story, including his experiences dealing with a sick mother when he was young. Writing for Empire Magazine, critic Dan Jolin called the film “an otherworldly tale of childhood and a definitive work of imagination.”

65 / 100
Diluvio

#36. The Wolf House (2020)

- Directors: Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña
- Metascore: 86
- Runtime: 75 minutes

This Chilean animated film tells the story of Maria, a woman who escapes an isolated colony that exploits the work of Chilean natives. She discovers a house in the woods where she lives with two pigs and the three of them live in constant fear of a wolf at the door. The film is bizarrely and beautifully animated, with a mix of drawn and stop-motion design, according to The New York Times.

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66 / 100
Les Films Paul Grimault

#35. The King and the Mockingbird (2014)

- Director: Paul Grimault
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 83 minutes

French animator Paul Grimault and screenwriter Jacques Prévert began working on this fairy tale adaptation back in 1948. When an incomplete version was released without Grimault's permission, the artist spent decades raising enough money to buy back the rights. He was eventually able to complete the work about a chimney sweep and shepherdess who flee from a tyrannical king.

67 / 100
Sony Pictures Animation

#34. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

- Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 117 minutes

Critics and audiences alike went hog wild for the latest “Spider-Man” movie, in which a number of people wear the superhero's mask. It follows Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales into a multiverse, where he teams up with five counterparts against a dangerous threat. The film's creators borrowed ideas from hand-drawn techniques and broke with numerous conventions when developing its seminal computer-animation style.

68 / 100
Aardman Animations

#33. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

- Directors: Nick Park, Steve Box
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 85 minutes

A British stop-motion claymation franchise got the feature-length treatment with the release of this critical darling. In "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," villagers count down the days to an annual vegetable-growing competition as a giant mutated rabbit begins destroying all the local gardens. It sounds like a job for "Anti-Pesto,” the pest-control outfit run by Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit.

69 / 100
Apple Original Films

#32. Wolfwalkers (2020)

- Directors: Ross Stewart, Tomm Moore
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Robyn is a young English girl who, with her father, is trying to make a life in the pre-colonial Irish town of Kilkenny. It's a story about following the rules out of fear for what will happen if we don't. According to NPR, it's a different type of made-for-kids film, which typically fall under the umbrella of "Believe in Yourself/Follow Your Passion/You are Special vein," the article writes.

70 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#31. Toy Story 2 (1999)

- Directors: Ash Brannon, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 92 minutes

Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the gang are back in this beloved sequel taking place while Andy is away at summer camp. When Woody gets stolen by a crazed collector, the remaining toys set about rescuing their friend. It was another 11 years before the saga continued with a third installment.

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71 / 100
Paramount Pictures

#30. Anomalisa (2015)

- Directors: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 90 minutes

Auteur Charlie Kaufman takes his heady preoccupations into stop-motion animation territory with this effort. When a depressed man meets a stranger during a business trip, his entire outlook on life changes for the better. Initial funding for "Anomalisa" came from a successful Kickstarter campaign.

72 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#29. Up (2009)

- Directors: Bob Peterson, Pete Docter
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 96 minutes

After opening with one of the most unforgettable sequences in animated history, this Pixar film embarks on a quest of legendary proportion. It follows an old man (voiced by Ed Asner) as he equips his house with tons of balloons and then takes to the sky, bringing a young stowaway along for the ride. Film critic Richard Corliss called it the “studio's most deeply emotional and affecting work.”

73 / 100
Aardman Animations

#28. Chicken Run (2000)

- Directors: Nick Park, Peter Lord
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 84 minutes

The first feature-length film from Aardman Animations takes place on a Yorkshire poultry farm styled after a World War II POW camp. Determined to avoid their inevitable fate, Rocky the rooster and Ginger the chicken hatch an epic escape plan. Creating the stop-motion animation was a painstaking process: The filmmakers turned in about three seconds of footage per day.

74 / 100
Walt Disney Studios

#27. The Little Mermaid (1989)

- Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 83 minutes

In "The Little Mermaid," a young mermaid named Ariel gives up her voice in order to take human form. Should Ariel fail to win the love of a human prince, her soul will belong to the evil sea witch Ursula forever. The film marks the last time Disney used cels and Xeroxing.

75 / 100
StudioCanal

#26. Paddington 2 (2018)

- Director: Paul King
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 103 minutes

A computer-animated bear takes center stage in this otherwise live-action sequel. Now settled in with the Brown family, Paddington gets a series of odd jobs in order to buy Aunt Lucy a 100th birthday present. When the present is stolen, Paddington and the Browns are on the case.

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76 / 100
Disney Enterprises

#25. The Lion King (1994)

- Directors: Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 89 minutes

Disney was on a veritable hot streak when it released this animated classic, in which a lion cub named Simba is tricked into thinking he killed his own father. After running away from home, Simba returns to reclaim his birthright. Composer Hans Zimmer won an Academy Award for Best Score while the film likewise features a number of iconic songs.

77 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#24. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2014)

- Director: Isao Takahata
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 137 minutes

Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata adapted a 10th-century folktale for this animated adventure, in which a tiny princess is discovered inside a bamboo stalk. After growing into a beautiful young woman, the princess is courted by a range of male suitors. Studio Ghibli renders a gorgeous style reminiscent of Japanese paintings, once again pushing the boundaries of anime.

78 / 100
2.4.7. Films

#23. Persepolis (2007)

- Directors: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi adapted her own comic when co-directing this autobiographical drama. Set in 1970s Iran, the story follows Satrapi as she comes of age during the Islamic Revolution. The movie's animation style plays it close to the original source material, leaping onto the screen in black and white.

79 / 100
Pannónia Filmstúdió

#22. Son of the White Mare (1983)

- Director: Marcell Jankovics- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 81 minutes

Released in 1983, Son of the White Mare is Hungary's answer to the American Fantasia, according to Wired. The bizarre, phantasmagoric film is loose on the plot line but bold on sounds and images. As Wired puts it, "Just imagine if Walt Disney had, at a tender age, gotten lost in a magic forest, dropped acid, and made hallucinatory love to a white mare."

80 / 100
Buena Vista Pictures

#21. The Incredibles (2004)

- Director: Brad Bird
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 115 minutes

Brad Bird's wildly popular action movie takes place in a world where superheroes have been banned, forcing the Incredibles family to live in hiding. As Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible) grapples with the doldrums of suburban life, he yearns to put his natural talents to work. He's eventually given a chance to wear the uniform once again, though the new job is not what it seems.

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81 / 100
Buena Vista Pictures

#20. Finding Nemo (2003)

- Directors: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 100 minutes

Blending heart and humor as only Pixar can, this computer-animated adventure follows a timid clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) as he searches for his missing son, Nemo. Helping Marlin wade through the vast ocean terrain is a forgetful blue tang by the name of Dory. Little do they realize that Nemo is stuck behind aquarium glass in a dentist's office with little time to spare.

82 / 100
Bitter Films

#19. It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

- Director: Don Hertzfeldt
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 62 minutes

This morbid masterpiece converges three short films into a unified whole as "It's Such a Beautiful Day" confronts a stick figure named Bill with a psychological breakdown. Creator Don Hertzfeldt employs a bevy of experimental visuals as the narrative segues between reality, memory, and hallucination. What's ultimately revealed is a mind-bending meditation on humanity's biggest and most persistent fixations.

83 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#18. Only Yesterday (1991)

- Director: Isao Takahata
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 118 minutes

Based on a manga of the same name, this anime-style drama takes place in 1982. It follows an office worker to the countryside, where she reflects upon her lifelong upbringing in Tokyo. Eschewing traditional anime tropes for adult-themed subject matter, the movie was a surprise hit at the Japanese box office.

84 / 100
Disney

#17. Bambi (1942)

- Directors: Bill Roberts, David Hand, Graham Heid, James Algar, Norman Wright, Paul Satterfield, Samuel Armstrong
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 70 minutes

The story of a young deer named Bambi is as simple as it is profound, and still timeless after all these years. After a tragic opening, the movie chronicles the eponymous character as he comes of age in the forest. Chinese-American animator Tyrus Wong conceived the expressive look of the forest backgrounds, drawing upon ancient landscape paintings from the Song Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.).

85 / 100
Columbia/Tristar

#16. Waltz with Bashir (2008)

- Director: Ari Folman
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 90 minutes

Israeli veteran Ari Folman explores Israel's war with Lebanon in 1982 through an animated lens in this vivid documentary. Plagued by his own inability to remember the war, Folman interviews other soldiers who were there. The director and his small team combined Adobe Flash cutouts, cel animation, and 3D drawings to bring history to life.

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86 / 100
Les Armateurs

#15. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

- Director: Sylvain Chomet
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 78 minutes

Sylvain Chomet's debut feature takes place during the Tour de France, and centers on the abduction of three competing cyclists. As a woman searches for the missing victims, she gets help from three former jazz legends known as The Triplets of Belleville. It all goes down in Chomet's stunning 2D drawing style, and with virtually no dialogue.

87 / 100
Go-Valley

#14. Tower (2016)

- Director: Keith Maitland
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 96 minutes

Filmmaker Keith Maitland first heard about the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas in Austin from his seventh-grade history teacher, who was actually there. Years later, he returned with this animated documentary about the harrowing ordeal. The movie relies on rotoscoping to create a realistic aesthetic.

88 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#13. Toy Story 3 (2010)

- Director: Lee Unkrich
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 103 minutes

After getting stranded at a hostile day care center, the world's most famous toys square off against reckless toddlers and an evil bear named Lotso. So goes the third “Toy Story” movie, which finds Andy preparing for college and leaving his past behind. A fourth installment is scheduled for release this summer.

89 / 100
Nina Paley // WIkimedia Commons

#12. Sita Sings the Blues (2009)

- Director: Nina Paley
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 82 minutes

Film critic Roger Ebert was “swept away” by this animated musical from artist Nina Paley. The film juxtaposes a tale from the Ramayana with the breakup of the director's own marriage. Animation comes courtesy of Paley herself, who pairs the visuals with 1920s jazz vocals from Annette Hanshaw.

90 / 100
Pixar Animation

#11. Inside Out (2015)

- Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 94 minutes

This 3D computer-animated blockbuster takes viewers inside the mind of a girl named Riley, whose emotions are personified by a team of engaging personalities. As Riley cautiously navigates a new home and new city, her emotions likewise embark on a perilous journey. To appeal to as broad an audience as possible, the movie's creators changed minor details for different international markets.

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91 / 100
Shinchosha Company

#10. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

- Director: Isao Takahata
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 89 minutes

Studio Ghibli's dark and powerful Grave of the Fireflies is based on the 1967 novel and tells the story of two orphans and their attempts at survival in the closing months of World War II.

92 / 100
Disney/Pixar

#9. WALL-E (2008)

- Director: Andrew Stanton
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 98 minutes

The second-best reviewed movie of 2008 was this computer-animated adventure from Pixar, which takes place in a grim future. After wading through literal mountains of trash, a lovable robot named WALL-E follows his newfound love interest onto a spaceship. It's here that he crosses paths with a careless species called Homo sapiens.

93 / 100
Disney

#8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)

- Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, David Hand, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Wilfred Jackson, William Cottrell
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 83 minutes

Seminal is hardly the word to describe this late-1930s classic, which was both Walt Disney's first animated feature and the first full-length animated film produced in North America. It also popularized Technicolor and became the most successful movie of its time. The story of Snow White could have sunk the studio, but it spawned an industry instead.

94 / 100
Pixar Animation

#7. Toy Story (1995)

- Director: John Lasseter
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 81 minutes

Pixar's inaugural feature introduced audiences to Andy's incredible toys and the wonders of 3D computer animation. It finds Woody the cowboy getting jealous when Andy brings home his newest acquisition, a spaceman by the name of Buzz Lightyear. Family entertainment hasn't been the same since.

95 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#6. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 84 minutes

The recent live-action remake doesn't hold a talking candlestick to this animated original, about the relationship between a young beauty and a cursed beast. Should the beautiful Belle learn to love the beast, then a spell will lift and he'll turn back into a handsome prince. This was Disney's third film to incorporate digital animation, with the first two being “The Rescuers Down Under” and “The Little Mermaid.”

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96 / 100
Studio Ghibli

#5. Spirited Away (2002)

- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 125 minutes

This epic fantasy finds Hayao Miyazaki at the top of his game and remains one of the most beloved animated films of all time. It follows a young girl into a fantastic parallel world, where gods roam and humans turn into beasts. This was the first anime film to be nominated for—and win—an Academy Award.

97 / 100
The Walt Disney Company

#4. Fantasia (1940)

- Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, David Hand, Ford Beebe Jr., Hamilton Luske, James Algar, Jim Handley, Norman Ferguson, Paul Satterfield, Samuel Armstrong, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 125 minutes

Setting a tapestry of brilliant animation against a backdrop of classical music, “Fantasia” remains unlike anything else in the Disney canon (barring “Fantasia 2000,” that is). This iconic passion project might have been something of a failure in its day, but it's since become known as nothing short of a masterpiece. Even decades after its release, this one hasn't aged a day.

98 / 100
Don Bluth Productions

#3. Ratatouille (2007)

- Director: Brad Bird
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 111 minutes

Pixar's eighth feature film is also the studio's best-reviewed effort to date. It centers on an epicurean rat named Remy, who dreams of becoming a French chef. When he ends up in the kitchen of a once-famous restaurant, Remy gets to put his culinary skills to the test.

99 / 100
The Walt Disney Company

#2. Dumbo (1941)

- Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, John Elliotte, Norman Ferguson, Samuel Armstrong, Wilfred Jackson
- Metascore: 96
- Runtime: 64 minutes

A bullied circus elephant named Dumbo learns to fly in this 1941 family film, which clocks in at a tight 64 minutes. Due to budget constraints, Disney cultivated a simpler animation style while emphasizing the story's emotional components. A live-action remake from Tim Burton is right around the corner.

100 / 100
Walt Disney Productions

#1. Pinocchio (1940)

- Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson
- Metascore: 99
- Runtime: 88 minutes

With a current score of 99 on Metacritic, Disney's “Pinocchio” endures as the most critically acclaimed animated film of all time. It tells the story of a living puppet who must prove his worth if he wants to become a human boy. The animation is so iconic that William O'Connor of The Daily Beast attested this 1940 classic is “still the finest hand-drawn film ever.”

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