12 Of My Favorite Animated Films

Animated films have long since graduated from simply being entertainment for children. They are their own established art form and, when masterfully crafted, rival or even surpass live action films. There’s just something magical animation that even CGI-enhanced films can’t duplicate. Whether they’re childhood obsessions or newfound appreciations, we all have our favorite animated movies; here are some of mine.

-Toy Story-

Director: John Lasseter

Writer: Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow

Release: November 22, 1995

Metacritic Rating: 95

Come on, who doesn’t love Toy Story? This movie series is basically a global treasure. It’s probably the best thing in Tim Allen’s career and Tom Hanks is, as usual, outstanding in it. Let’s be honest, you’ve seen the movie and odds are you love it as much as I do.

-The Lion King-

Director:  Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Writer: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, Linda Woolverton

Release: July 15, 1994

Metacritic Rating: 83

Not only is this one of my favorite animated films, it’s one of my favorite films in general. The score, composed by Hans Zimmer, is stirring, powerful, and unforgettable. Accompanying it however, may be an even more memorable soundtrack written and performed by Tim Rice and Elton John.   The Lion King is an achievement in cinema and truly a timeless classic.

-The Incredibles-

Director: Brad Bird

Writer: Brad Bird

Release: November 5, 2004

Metacritic Rating: 90

In the modern era of film, superhero movies are a dime a dozen.  But way back in 2004, four years before Iron Man, Disney released what very well may be the best hero film ever made. Yes, The Dark Knight is fantastic, and Spiderman 2 is a gem, but The Incredibles surpasses the genre. It’s a brilliant film in every sense of the word. Brad Bird’s script is smart, and provides plenty for audiences of all ages. There’s just so much to love about this film.

-Spirited Away-

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki

Release: July 20, 2001

Metacritic Rating: 94

The first time I saw Spirited Away I was completely in awe. It’s so incredibly absorbing that it just sucks the viewer into its enchanting story and doesn’t loosen its grip until long after the credits. Miyazaki crafts a world that is breathtakingly original, and the beautiful score and brilliant animation make it an all-time classic. It’s probably the best film on this list and I can’t recommend it enough.

-The Iron Giant-

Director: Brad Bird

Writer: Tim McCanlies

Release: August 6, 1999

Metacritic Rating: 85

Much like Brad Bird’s other film on this list, The Incredibles, The Iron Giant is complex enough to cater to both kids and adults alike. It deals with themes of power, politics, and fear of the unknown, all while telling an emotional story of friendship between a boy and a giant robot from outer space.


Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Writer: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S. H. Schulman

Release: May 18, 2001

Metacritic Rating: 84

Shrek hit theaters when I was nine-years-old. I remember seeing it in theaters and, even then, thinking I’d never seen anything like it before. It takes target at both the timeless fairy tales we all grew up hearing as well at its primary competition: Disney. Not only does it manage to  pack in countless familiar references, but it does so in a completely original way.


Director: Ron Clements, John Musker

Writer: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Release: November 25, 1992

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Aladdin is one of the most enjoyable Disney films of all time. This is largely due to Robin Williams electric performance as the Genie, but the fun songs, excellent animation, and sharp storytelling help too.

-The Simpsons Movie-

Director: David Silverman

Writer: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti

Release: July 27, 2007

Metacritic Rating: 80

28 seasons, 615 episodes, 27 video games, nine comic books, and one theme park ride later, The Simpsons has obviously stamped its legacy  into history. After all of that however, it’s actually pretty surprising that there’s only been one movie about the titular yellow family. What’s even more surprising is how well-made the film is. You can tell the cast and crew really loved this project and went the extra mile to recapture the magic that was created in the earlier seasons of the show.  As the show faces gradually declining ratings, one can’t help but wonder if this film was the one of the last glimpses of prosperity for Springfield’s First Family.

-Monsters, Inc.-

Director: Pete Docter

Writer: Andrew Stanton, Dan Gerson

Release: November 21, 2001

Metacritic Rating: 78

Pixar has an unprecedented track record for creating exceptional entertainment, and Monsters, Inc., in my opinion, is one of their best films. It’s such a clever and authentic concept that you just can’t help but be fascinated by the world they’ve created. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are fantastic and have excellent chemistry, and, on top of all that, it boasts one of the most heartwarming endings in film history.

-Princess Mononoke-

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki

Release: July 12, 1997

Metacritic Rating: 76

While I don’t think it quite surpasses Spirited Away in terms of visual splendor, it certainly comes close. Princess Mononoke is a stunning film, and another achievement from Miyazaki.

-Beauty and The Beast-

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Writer: Linda Woolverton

Release: November 22, 1991

Metacritic Rating: N/A

I recently watched the 2017 live-action remake of this film and, while it was a serviceable film, it just didn’t capture the magic of the original. Beauty and The Beast is a Disney classic, and definitely for good reason. The animation is gorgeous (particularly in the ballroom scene), and the music is, as most of the 90’s Disney works, fantastic.

-A Goofy Movie-

Director: Kevin Lima

Writer: Jymn Magon, Chris Matheson, Brian Pimental

Release: April 7, 1995

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Often looked at as a lesser Disney film, I’ve always felt this movie was unappreciated. Judged on it’s own merits, I feel that A Goofy Movie is a thoroughly enjoyable film. The songs, while not the best Disney has done, are fun and catchy. The story has some endearing moments and genuinely provides some honest laughs. It may not be in the upper echelon of Disney films, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this movie.

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