When it comes to movies, animation has to be one of my favourite genres. It’s unsurprising for everyone who knows I’m fond of Japanese anime. However the West has an equal amount of fantastic animated movies, and here I have picked my top 12 western animated movies. 

First I want to give out my honourable mentions. These are films within the genre that I think deserve to be on the list, but when I narrowed it down to 12, I picked ones that meant just that slightly bit more to me. I also wanted to give a shoutout to movies that I haven’t watched but I’ve been told are fantastic.

Up! – One of the most popular Pixar films to date, I think the introduction story about the old man’s past, is the best part. Everything after that lost my interest pretty quickly, and it’s not a film I plan on ever watching again.

Wall-E – Another popular film, which although I enjoyed, it wasn’t enough to watch again. Yes the characters are loveable. The scenery is beautiful. Music is also fantastic. But nothing makes me want to go back to it.

Finding Nemo – I remember it was the first film I saw with my dad at the cinema. But honestly I don’t rate it much as a film. I did however adore Finding Dory, and was very tempted to add that to my list.

Toy Story – I know, I know. Everyone loves Toy Story. Well as someone who grew up not playing with that many toys, there was a large part of me that disconnected from the film. The characters are fun and the plot is great, I also applaud their 3D animation work considering how old the film is now. As a child however I didn’t really enjoy the film.

The Lego Movie – A fantastic and fun film, one of the best in recent years undoubtedly. It simply didn’t make it onto the list because my list was already full.

The Iron Giant – I have never watched the film.

12. Madagascar

I can’t remember the first time I ever saw Madagascar. I do remember laughing a lot. It seems the biggest factor in animated movies for me, and Madagascar does make me laugh. The interaction between the four animal friends, the ridiculous King and everyone’s antics are fantastic. Unlike some films, the plot doesn’t feel forced. I can’t say much for the sequels, which can be considered hit or miss, however the original is solidly in my movies collection under “Family Fun”.

11. Big Hero Six

Big Hero Six is an interesting movie for me. In some ways I find it has a lot of failings. The plot and characters feel a bit cliched in places, there are parts that I physically grimace at, and overall I think it should really only get a 7/10. However it makes it to my list because darn it I just love the little first bump they do. Fa la-la-la!

10. How to Train Your Dragon

An absolutely fantastic movie. I found the plot very solid. The characters aren’t my favourite, but they’re not terrible either. Overall the movie just hits a good cord. It’s a movie that’s gone down well in my family, from the youngens to the oldens.

9. The Yellow Submarine

When I went to my uncle’s house, this was the only film cartoon film he had, and so he played it when we visited. As I grew up, it became a sort of tradition to watch the film when we visited. The plot is silly but fun, and the music is classic.

8. Shrek

Shrek absolutely hits everything humour wise that I enjoy. Shrek and Donkey’s banter is fun to watch, and I really love the twist on the fairy tale trop that the original film takes on. The film is as enjoyable now as an adult as it was for me as a kid. The sequels I can’t say much about. However I’m always more than happy to rewatch Shrek.

7. Kung Fu Panda

Normally I would avoid a film starring Jack Black. He’s just not my kind of comedian. However Kung Fu Panda is a fantastic work. I’m most impressed with how well they’ve created their setting, so accurate in showing traditional Chinese culture. In this way, the franchise has garnered a huge international following.

6. Wallace and Gromit A Grand Day Out

If you’re not familiar with Wallace and Gromit then I highly recommend you watch one of their first 3 films. They have one of the best representations of British culture. Wallace is a loveable character who likes Wensleydale Cheese. Gromit is his intelligent and loyal pet dog. Although Gromit doesn’t speak, his facial expression say more than enough. A Grand Day Out is my favourite of the original three films. Firstly because it involves going to the moon to harvest cheese and involves a robot. Secondly because the penguin from the next film terrifies me.

5. Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare Before Christmas has to be one of Tim Burton’s best films. Surely? The story is original, the characters rememberable. As a holiday tale (Halloween or Christmas?) it’s also completely acceptable to watch it every single year. I also love the sound track. a great film and a nice change of pace for Disney who doesn’t have much in the way of goth/emo/alternative characters.

4. Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve watched. I’m not saying that just because of how much food is involved. I think the entire ambience of the film is lovely. The story is very original and doesn’t feel forced. The ending is also refreshing in the sense that actions do have consequences, but it’s still a happy ending.

3. Monsters Inc.

Monster’s Inc really captures the spirit of children, and looking after children. There’s a great dynamic between Mike and Sully. The humour is exactly up my street and it’s a truly feel good film. I’m also a fan of films that are able to build up worlds, in this case the Monster World, and fill it out quite well.

2. Lilo & Stitch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIwUjrvaXjM&ab_channel=KonohagakureYondaime

Lilo & Stich is my favourite Disney film. There are so many fantastic Disney films that i’m sure deserve to be on “Top” lists. However Lilo & Stitch stands out to me because it’s set in a more realistic world than many of their other movies. Ok, so there’s a whole lot of aliens involved. But the plot line with Lilo and her sister facing child protective services really brings it back home for me. The opening song He Mele No Lilo is also one of my favourite Disney songs ever.

1. The Incredibles

I truly believe that The Incredibles is a perfect film. I can find no faults, at least, no substantial faults with it. The main characters are great at showing relationships in famlies. The humour is great. The plot is interesting. It’s endless quotable, and a film I could watch again and again happily. There may be other films that beat it in one aspect or another, but I think it’s hard to find a film you can say “They nailed every part.”. Not only is it my top Western animated movie, it ranks high in my top movies regardless of genre.

  • NeilW

    This is a wonderful subject for a blog, but you knew I couldn’t let it pass without going through it title by title, didn’t you?

    Honourable mention: Up – I love this film passionately. The opening sequence is the most perfect piece of cinema I have ever seen: it tells a self-contained story, full of humour and heartbreak, it illuminates character and tells its story with clarity and economy and, all the while, it is supplying masses of exposition. Nearly everything in that prologue has a payoff later in the film, yet you never feel that you are getting an information dump. I can understand you feeling that the rest of the film doesn’t live up to that opening, but the story of Carl learning to let go of Ellie couldn’t be told quickly, and the payoff is simply heart-stopping. It’s also one of the best films to see in 3D.

    Honourable mention: WALL-E – this blew me away at the cinema, but isn’t the most welcoming of films to rewatch. On a rewatch, the visual impressiveness isn’t enough to bridge sections
    where what is happening isn’t that interesting.

    Honourable mention: Finding Nemo – loved it at the time, it has lost some of its lustre over the years (I was less impressed with Finding Dory). I have memories of my Dad taking me to movies
    as a kid, I remember every one: hold on to those memories, treasure them.

    Honourable mention: Toy Story – this was a revelation as CGI when it was first released and is still an excellent film.

    Honourable mention: The Lego Movie – I enjoyed it but I agree that it only merits an honourable mention.

    Honourable mention: The Iron Giant – YOU MUST WATCH THIS! WATCH IT NOW! I can’t say why without spoilering it, but it is one for comic fans.

    Madagascar – maybe it’s because I’m not a big David Schwimmer fan, but this never did much for me (I loved the 3rd one, though).

    Big Hero Six – Yes! I loved everything about it, especially the fact that the San Fransokyo flyover sequence clearly showed the beach where I went paddling. This is another one which is great in 3D.

    How To Train Your Dragon – another one I agree with. This film has a lot of heart.

    Yellow Submarine – The Beatles were the soundtrack to my adolescence, so how can I not love this? But, putting the fabs aside, there is some great graphic design and innovative animation in here. Plus a silly story and just fun all round.

    Shrek – another thoroughly entertaining groundbreaker, a subversive attack on Disney and fairytales in general, thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. The law of diminishing returns set in with the sequels, unfortunately.

    Kung Fu Panda – I share your feelings about Jack Black, although I thought he did a good voice job here. But I thought no. 3 was the best – it looked exquisite. I’m not particularly versed
    in oriental cultures so, if that’s a factor, I defer to those with more experience.

    Wallace And Gromit – A Grand Day Out – Well, of course. Humour, sly wit, wonderful
    attention to detail, great voice characterisation (and non-voice characterisation!) and brilliant animation. Not sure I’d have had it in my top 12 though.

    The Nightmare Before Christmas – I don’t really care for this. It’s a masterpiece of style over
    substance, which sums up Tim Burton pretty well for me: I find many of his films lose “Wow!” on rewatching (exceptions being Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands).

    Ratatouille – for me, this is one of the lesser Pixars. It just doesn’t really get to a place inside
    me.

    Monsters Inc – Yup. With you on this one.

    Lilo & Stitch – I enjoyed this but it didn’t leave any lasting impression.

    The Incredibles – No argument from me. A top animated film, a top superhero movie, and a top movie full stop. Works on every level.

    So what did you overlook? Let me see…

    Fantasia – a revolutionary movie, full of gorgeous traditional animation.

    Tangled – traditional Disney in CGI, great songs, great animation, great 3D, great story and characters (please note: I am NOT including Frozen).

    The Little Mermaid – leading the Disney renaissance, with superb work from the late Howard Ashman (lyricist and vocal direction), giving the mermaid the happy ending Hans Andersen denied her.

    Coraline – Neil Gaiman’s great modern dark fable, terrific animation and design, good 3D.

    Aladdin – fab movie even if Robin Williams does overpower it a bit (which, for many, makes the movie even better).

    Kubo And The Two Strings – recent, I know,, but well worth adding to your list – you’ll love the oriental design, but it’s a really good film anyway.

    South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut – the animation is pretty rudimentary, but the movie merits inclusion because of the heavy hitting of its content. And the songs!

    Belleville Rendez-vous – Eccentric French animated movie. Quirky and quite unique.

    When The Wind Blows – British movie based on Raymond (The Snowman) Briggs’ devastating graphic novel about an elderly couple in the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

    A Flight Of Dragons – pleasing fantasy – animation not wonderful, but good design and the film works well.

    Transformers – The Movie – a GREAT voice cast, a good story, some excellent songs (!) and incredibly detailed destruction animation.

    Hercules – Scarfe! Plus some good songs and James Woods, oh and some lovely animation.

    Arthur Christmas – Aardman CGI, good idea, great story, brilliant voices, stunning use of 3D, and killer payoff.

    That’ll do to be getting along with!