The best animated films of all time

Spencer Woodbury, Editor

Imagine. It is Saturday morning, you run down the stairs in your pajamas, pour yourself a large bowl of cereal and turn on Nickelodeon, Disney XD or Cartoon Network. Long before your obsession over “Twilight” or “Marvel”, chances are you were entangled in the world of animation. Animation is a place we all come from. It has taught us basic morals as kids and will be a refuge for us when we are adults seeking nostalgia and comfort. All in all, the genre has a hefty amount of masterpieces, both gritty and whimsical. However, the true question is, what are the greatest animated films? What separates animation from being a Saturday morning cartoon and a cinematic gem?

In order to create my list of the greatest animated films of all time I considered numerous factors of excellence. The main factors I considered in creating this list are as follows: animation quality, strong imagination and beautiful storytelling. To kick off this list here are five honorable mentions:

Honorable Mentions

  1. My Life as a Zucchini
  2. Toy Story
  3. Spirited Away
  4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  5. The Lego Movie

Without further ado, these are the five best animated films of all time ranked from worst to best.

  1. “The Iron Giant”

The storytelling of “The Iron Giant” is remarkable. The way the film deals with mature subject material, such as death and discrimination, but never dumbs down the theme to its intended audience of children is ingenious. With its top-notch animation and stellar voice acting, this stereotypical man versus machine story teaches all to ignore society’s labels and be one’s true self. 

  1. “The Breadwinner”

“The Breadwinner” allows its viewers to fully immerse themselves into the film’s culture. Many other films, such as “Aladdin” and “Encanto”, attempt to, but fall very short. The way the animators weave in Arabic culture without feeling forced is key to its success. An example of this is the Arabic tapestries, which perfectly display the themes of courage and beauty. “The Breadwinner” is simply a visual masterpiece. 

  1. “Princess Mononoke”

With severed limbs and a flesh-mutating curse, “Princess Mononoke” is much darker than your average Studio Ghibli film. Despite this, it still has the usual Ghibli quality. Through its breathtaking visuals and narrative, “Princess Mononoke” is up to par with other fantasy worlds, like “The Lord of the Rings”. Its gripping story on the conflict between mankind and nature makes the movie more relevant today as we continue to battle global warming. “Princess Mononoke” gives a compelling message while providing phenomenal visuals and voice acting.

  1. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has a jaw-dropping visual identity. It perfectly blends the artistic styles of 2D, 3D and comic book animation. What is truly brilliant about the visuals is that they convey the characters’ emotions so fluently. The psychedelic color choice flawlessly compliments the mood of the characters. On top of the visuals, the characters are dynamic and endearing. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” easily solidifies itself as an instant classic.

  1. “Grave of the Fireflies”

For a majority of viewers, “Grave of the Fireflies” is a gem they will only ever watch once. It is a harrowing World War II story shedding light on the horrors of war, serving as a tribute to the innocent lives lost caught in the cross hairs of destruction. Despite how heartbreaking the film is, “Grave of the Fireflies” is not relentless. There are numerous, small moments of beauty which makes the ending all the more depressing. The delightful moments throughout the film give a friendly reminder that even in life’s most difficult moments, we are still capable of experiencing childlike wonder and joy. Not only do I consider this the greatest animated film, but also the greatest film of all time.