RANKED! The Best Animated Movies of the Decade So Far
Animation has changed significantly in recent years. Since Pixar had its feature-length debut with Toy Story in 1995, the two decades-plus have seen more and more computer-animated films hit theaters. Today, they are commonplace. Sadly, however, the evolution of animation has come at a cost. Traditional hand-drawn animation has fallen mostly by the wayside. Save for a select few, the style is almost completely unrepresented at the box office today. Whether you prefer hand-drawn, computer-animated, or even stop-motion, you’ll find your interests represented in our ranking of the seven best animated movies of the 2010s so far!
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7. 'Rango' (2011)
After a four year hiatus following Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Gore Verbinski’s return to film was triumphant—or at least, characteristically peculiar. Johnny Depp’s titular domesticated chameleon finds himself stranded in the desert. In the process of trying to get back home, he finds himself thrust into a turf war straight out of a spaghetti Western.
Photo: Paramount Pictures
6. 'ParaNorman' (2013)
With Coraline wowing audiences just before the 2000s gave way to the 2010s, animation fans were forced to recognize a new name in stop-motion: Laika. Their follow-up film, ParaNorman, features a young boy with supernatural powers. It's imbued with a family-friendly spookiness similar to its predecessor, which helped them carve out their own little niche. Though it didn’t do particularly well at the box office, it proved to many viewers that Coraline was not an aberration—and that Laika was here to stay.
5. 'Winnie the Pooh' (2011)
Walt Disney Pictures, an empire built upon the traditional style of animation, has abandoned it since Winnie the Pooh. It’s difficult not to feel nostalgic when watching the film. The saccharine nature of the world of Pooh is recreated in good faith here. It is also difficult not to feel mournful because Disney does not seem keen to release another film that looks like this any time soon.
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
4. 'The Wind Rises' (2013)
Hayao Miyazaki is a celebrated animation director. After Walt Disney himself, he may very well be the best-known filmmaker in the genre. The Wind Rises illustrates the life of Jiro Horikoshi—an imperial-era Japanese aircraft designer—with frequent embellishing. Like the rest of Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli’s work, it is elegant and deeply moving.
Photo: Studio Ghibli
3. 'The Lego Movie' (2014)
The Lego Movie was something of a marvel when it was released. Like 21 Jump Street and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Phil Lord and Chris Miller had another hit on their hands. The animation is striking, perfectly recreating the look and sound of actual Legos. With decades of toy nostalgia to draw from—with superheroes, Star Wars characters, and more—it is difficult not to get swept up into the movie.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
2. 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' (2018)
In four years, there were as many Spider-Man based films: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Venom (2018), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). But among these films, Spider-Verse stands out as the clear favorite. Its idiosyncratic look sets it apart from the other Spider-Man films as well as other animated films. Like The Lego Movie before it, much of the credit is likely due to the collective imagination of Lord and Miller working behind the scenes.
Photo: Sony Entertainment
1. 'The Adventures of Tintin' (2011)
Steven Spielberg’s strange, unexpected motion-capture adaptation of the famous French comic book series remains the best animated movie this decade has to offer. The master filmmaker’s undeniable talent for excitement shines even in the rarely-trodden landscape of computer animation. At best, The Adventures of Tintin is reminiscent of one of Spielberg’s best projects, the campy adventure series we know as Indiana Jones.
Photo: Sony Entertainment