Childhood doesn’t last forever, but we can relive it whenever we want through our
favorite animated movies. While most of us were introduced to animation through Disney and DreamWorks films, our tastes grew along with us, and we came to appreciate more sophisticated animation like that of Pixar and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion style. It was tough to choose only 20, but these flicks forever remain among the best we’ve seen in this fun, colorful, and ever-evolving cinematic genre.
Cover Photo: DreamWorks Animation
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Animated Movies 20 Years
20. 'Coraline' (2009)
Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door in her new home that leads her to a parallel, but infinitely stranger, world in this dark, brooding, and sometimes scary stop-motion animated film.
19. 'Rango' (2011)
In this animated take on a Western, chameleon Rango (Johnny Depp) is thrust from his safe life as a family pet into the role of sheriff of Dirt, a frontier town.
18. 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' (2009)
Scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) creates a machine that converts water into food, which is fantastic for his impoverished town...until food storms erupt.
17. 'Winnie the Pooh' (2011)
Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) and all your favorite childhood friends from the Hundred Acre Wood gather together to find a new tail for Eeyore (Bud Luckey) in this timeless treasure.
16. 'Toy Story 2' (1999)
You can't beat the original
Toy Story, but its 1995 release date prevented it from being included on this list. The next best thing is Toy Story 2, which finds our adventurous cowboy friend, Woody (Tom Hanks), reunited with fellow collectible toys from a defunct television show.
15. 'Despicable Me' (2010)
Supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) struggles with opposing forces: he wants to shrink and steal the moon with his army of Minions but he doesn't want to disappoint his three adopted daughters. This heartwarming animated film shows that bad guys have good sides, too.
14. 'Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' (2005)'
Pest control worker Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his dog, Gromit, are hired by Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to nab a garden-destroying rabbit, but Wallace soon finds himself fighting against Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes) for both her hand and the bunny.
13. 'The Iron Giant' (1999)
This animated adaption of a Ted Hughes story explores a friendship between an alien robot (Vin Diesel) and a 9-year-old boy (Eli Marienthal) in Rockwell, Maine, in the '50s.
12. 'The Lego Movie' (2014)
What's better than playing with Legos? Legos brought to life on the big screen. This film follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), a Lego man who accidentally ends up in a battle against an evildoer (Will Ferrell) due to mistaken identity.
11. 'Kung Fu Panda' (2008)
Po (Jack Black) is a lazy panda obsessed with kung fu, a fascination that serves him well when he is deemed the defender of his homeland, Village of Peace, and must become a kung fu master to defeat snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane). He gets a little help along the way from fellow kung fu animal friends voiced by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, and Seth Rogen. Think
The Karate Kid, but furrier and funnier.
10. 'WALL-E' (2008)
This dystopian futuristic film follows the last robot on Earth, WALL-E. When EVE makes landfall, WALL-E falls for her and follows her back onto her mother ship.
9. 'The Bee Movie' (2007)
Recent college graduate and honeybee Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) isn't down with the status quo of working his whole live for the hive. One day while out pollinating, he meets Manhattan florist Vanessa Bloome (Renée Zellweger) and discovers that people eat honey, so he files a lawsuit against humanity. This buzzy animated film has inspired a slew of memes (especially "Ya like jazz?") since its release.
8. 'Finding Nemo' (2003)
When curious clownfish Nemo (Alexander Gould) goes missing after swimming too close to the surface of the sea, his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) joins forces with blue reef fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to find him. This movie was so popular when it came out, it spurred a demand for real clown fish.
7. 'Ratatouille' (2007)
Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat that dreams of being a professional chef, despite the hospitality industry's aversion to his species. After he washes up (literally) near a Parisian restaurant, he gets his break when he befriends a rat-friendly wannabe chef, Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), who needs all the help he can get. This animated film is a feast for the eyes sprinkled with belly laughs.
6. 'The Incredibles' (2004)
The Parrs seem like a normal couple on the surface, but in truth they're superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter). Though the government has banned all superhero activity, Mr. Incredible gets to flex his muscles once again when assigned to tame an out-of-control robot. The whole family gets involved, each member using their unique ability to fight corruption.
5. 'Up' (2009)
A Boy Scout (Jordan Nagai) becomes an unintentional stowaway in the airborne home of widower Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) in this award-winning Pixar film.
4. 'Monsters Inc.' (2001)
James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is at the top of his game at Monsters Inc., a scare factory where he works with his best friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). When a little girl named Boo (Mary Gibbs) sneaks into the monsters' world, however, the duo must find a way to get her safely back to her fellow humans. This film made audiences laugh at their fears and feel all the warm fuzzies.
3. 'Shrek' (2001)
Swamp-dweller sourpuss Shrek (Mike Myers) leads a quiet existence that gets interrupted by an influx of irritating fairy tale characters displaced by the odious Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). If Shrek wants his solitude back, he'll have to free Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a guarded tower and turn her over to Lord Farquaad. There are just a couple of problems: Shrek falls for her first, and she's not all that she seems.
2. 'Chicken Run' (2000)
After American rooster Rocky (Mel Gibson) crashes a Yorkshire chicken farm in 1950s England, he inspires his love interest, chicken Ginger (Julia Sawalha), and her cohorts to escape before a chicken-pie making machine gets the best of them in this critically acclaimed dramedy.
1. 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' (2009)
In this imaginative and anthropomorphic Wes Anderson film, wily Mr. Fox (George Clooney) raids yet another farm with his wife Felicity Fox (Meryl Streep). When he finds out that he's going to be a father, Mr. Fox vows to give up his kleptomaniac ways forever, and to do so, the couple must go underground. With a talented cast and mature themes, this stop-motion animated film will delight both your inner child and your adult sensibilities.