The Most Beautiful Animated Movies


So CineFix posted a video listing their top ten choices for most beautiful animated films of all time, along with mentions of a couple dozen runner-ups. I thought they were missing a few, and so did some of the commenters. In a surprisingly civil discussion (for YouTube, at any rate), I read many suggestions for other people’s top picks. I thought it would be nice to have the whole thing compiled into a single list, so I could quickly find a movie to watch when I had some downtime… and I figured someone else might like to see it as well, so I’m posting it to my (sadly neglected) blog.

Many commenters joined me in expressing great surprise that Richard Williams’ The Thief and The Cobbler (pictured above) had not made it onto the list. if you are any fan of animation history whatsoever, you MUST go watch the Recobbled Cut as soon as possible (link in the list below).

As of today, I’ve seen 62 of the 142 films listed below… I’d love to hear if you thought we missed one of your own favorites!


CineFix’s Top Ten Most Beautiful Animated Films

Including directors, studio, country of origin, and year released

(plus 132 runner-ups and honorable mentions from the comments as of 9/3/2015)

(Compiled by me, the sole person to blame for errors)

  1. The Lion King (Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff Disney, USA 1994)


One Hundred and One Dalmatians (Clyde Geronimi/Hamilton Luske/Wolfgang Reitherman, Disney, USA 1961)

Bambi (David Hand, Disney, USA 1942)

Sleeping Beauty (Les Clark/Eric Larson/Wolfgang Reitherman, Disney, USA 1959)

Treasure Planet (Ron Clements/John Musker, Disney, USA 2002)

The Prince of Egypt (Brenda Chapman/Simon Wells/Steve Hickner, DreamWorks, USA 1998)

Pocahontas (Mike Gabriel/Eric Goldberg, Disney, USA 1995)

Fantasia (Multiple segment directors, Disney, USA 1940)

Fantasia 2000 (Multiple segment directors, Disney, USA 1999)

  1. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, Pixar, USA 2008)


Ratatouille (Brad Bird, Pixar, USA 2007)

How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders/Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks, USA 2010)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks, USA 2014)

Tangled (Nathan Greno/Byron Howard, Disney, USA 2010)

  1. The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable/Anthony Stacchi, Laika, USA 2014)


The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick/Tim Burton, Touchstone, USA 1993)

Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, Melodrama Pictures, Australia 2009)

ParaNorman (Sam Fell/Chris Butler, Laika, USA 2012)

Coraline (Henry Selick, Laika, USA 2009)

  1. The Adventures of Prince Achmed/Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (Lotte Reiniger/Carl Koch [uncredited], Germany 1926)


The Tale of the Fox (Irene Starevich/Ladislas Starevich, France, 1937)

  1. The Lego Movie (Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, USA 2014)


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Sony, USA 2009)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn, Sony, USA 2013)

  1. Waltz with Bashir/Vals Im Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel, 2008)


Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, Cartoon Saloon, Ireland 2014)

The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore/Nora Twomey, Cartoon Saloon, Ireland 2009)

The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, France 2010)

The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, France 2003)

Ernest & Celestine (Stephane Aubier/Vincent Patar/Benjamin Renner, France 2012)

  1. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya/Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2013)

Runner ups:

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2001)

The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2013)

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1997)

Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1988)

  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, USA 2009)


$9.99 (Tatia Rosenthal, Australia/Israel 2008)

  1. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Zack Snyder, Australia 2010)


Rango (Gore Verbinski, Nickelodeon, USA 2011)

The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez, USA 2014)

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (Shinsuke Sato, Japan 2009)

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Stéphane Berla/Mathias Malzieu, France, 2013)

  1. The Garden of Words/Kotonoha no Niwa (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2013)


Redline (Takeshi Koike, Madhouse, Japan 2009)

Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, Japan 1988)

Metropolis (Rintaro, Madhouse, Japan 2001)

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Shinichiro Watanabe, Japan 2001)

Tekkonkinkreet (Michael Arias, Studio 4°C, Japan 2006)

Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, Japan 2003)

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, Japan 2006)

5 Centimeters Per Second (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2007)

Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Mokoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2011)

Other films with multiple mentions in the comments:

The Thief and the Cobbler (Richard Williams [Recobbled Cut by Garrett Gilchrist], USA 2013)

Angel’s Egg/Tenshi no Tamago (Mamoru Oshii, Studio Deen, Japan 1985)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1984)

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1986)

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1988)

Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2004),

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2008)

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondo, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1995)

Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse, Japan 2009)

Wolf Children/Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Mamoru Hosoda, Studio Chizu/Madhouse, Japan 2012)

Wizards (Ralph Bakshi, Bakshi Productions, USA 1977)

American Pop (Ralph Bakshi, Bakshi Productions, USA 1981)

Fire and Ice (Ralph Bakshi, Producers Sales Organization, USA 1983)

Waking Life (Richard Linklater, Thousand Words, USA 2001)

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, Thousand Words, USA 2006)

Secret of NIMH (Don Bluth, USA 1982)

Land Before Time (Don Bluth, USA 1988)

Titan A.E. (Don Bluth/Gary Goldman, Fox Animation Studios, USA 2000)

The Last Unicorn (Jules Bass/Arthur Rankin, Jr., Rankin/Bass Productions, USA 1982)

Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi/Vincent Paronnaud, France/USA/Iran 2007)

Fantastic Planet/La Planéte Sauvage (Rene Laloux, France/Czechoslovakia 1973)

End of Evangelion (Hideaki Anno/Kazuya Tsurumaki, Japan 1997)

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G., Japan 1995, rereleased as GITS2.0 in 2008)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G., Japan 2004)

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton/Lee Unkrich, Pixar, USA 2003)

Up (Pete Docter/Bob Peterson, Pixar, USA 2009)

Monsters University (Dan Scanlon, Pixar, USA 2013)

Other films with fewer mentions (some might not strictly be animation, or full-length feature films):

Renaissance (Christian Volckman, France 2005)

Corpse Bride (Tim Burton/Mike Johnson, Laika, USA 2005)

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, Apple Films, USA 1968)

Fear(s) of the Dark/Peur(s) du noir (Horror anthology; many segment directors, France 2007)

Tree of Palme/Parumu no Ki (Takashi Nakamura, Palm Studio, Japan 2002)

Belladonna/Kanashimi no Beradonna (Eiichi Yamamoto, Mushi Production, Japan 1973)

Steamboy (Katsuhiro Otomo, Sunrise, Japan 2004)

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (Hiroyuki Okiura, Production I.G., Japan 2000)

Son of the White Mare/Fehérlófia (Marcell Jankovics, PannoniaFilm, Hungary 1981)

Heavy Metal (Gerald Potterton, Columbia Pictures, Canada 1981)

Tale of Tales/Skazka Skazok (Yuriy Norshteyn, Soviet Union 1979)

Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1989)

Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1992)

My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1999)

The Cat Returns (Hiroyuki Morita, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2002)

Tales from Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2006)

From Up on Poppy Hill (Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2011),

Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2010)

When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2014)

Voice of a Distant Star (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2002)

The Place Promised in our Early Days (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2004)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse, Japan 2006)

The Whale/Kujira (Noburo Ofuji, Japan 1927)

The Man Who Planted Trees (Frederic Back, Canada 1988)

The Old Man and The Sea (Aleksander Petrov, Russia/Canada/Japan 1999)

Watership Down (Martin Rosen/John Hubley [uncredited], Nepenthe Productions, UK 1978)

Tintin (Steven Spielberg, USA/New Zealand 2011)

Azur and Asmer (Michel Ocelot, All Production Companies, France/Belgium/Spain/Italy 2006)

Kirikou and the Sorceress/Kirikou et la Sourciere (Michel Ocelot, France/Belgium/Luxembourge 1998)

Sword of a Stranger (Masahiro Ando, Bones, Japan 2007)

Kung Fu Panda (John Stevenson/Mark Osborne, DreamWorks, USA 2008)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson, DreamWorks, USA 2011)

The King and The Mockingbird (Paul Grimault, France 1952)

Chicken Run (Peter Lord/Nick Park, Aardman Studios/DreamWorks, UK/USA 2000)

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park/Steve Box, Aardman Studios/DreamWorks, UK/USA 2005)

The Rabbi’s Cat (Joann Sfar/Antoine Delesvaux, Autochenille Production, France 2011)

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (Hiroyuki Yamaga, Gainax/Bandai, Japan 1987)

Long Way North/Tout en haut du monde (Remi Chaye, France 2015)

Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, Studio 4°C, Japan 2004)

Cat Soup (Tatsuo Sato, J.C. Staff, Japan 2001)

Patema Inverted/Sakasama no Patema (Yasuhiro Yoshiura, Purple Cow Studios, Japan 2012)

Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, USA 2008)

Allegro Non Troppo (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy 1976)

Shrek (Andrew Adamson/Vicky Jenson, Pacific Data Images/DreamWorks, USA 2001)

Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey, DreamWorks, USA 2012)

The Croods (Kirk DeMicco/Chris Sanders, DreamWorks, USA 2013)

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (Roger Allers, with many segment directors, Ventanarosa, Canada/France/Lebanon/Qatar/USA 2014)

Nocturna (Adrià García/Víctor Maldonado, Filmax Animation, Spain/France/UK 2007)

The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix/Flåklypa Grand Prix (Ivo Caprino, Norway 1975)

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, Bitter Films, USA 2012)

The Snowman (Dianne Jackson, UK 2982)

The Snowman and the Snowdog (Hilary Audus, Lupus Films, UK 2012)

Atlantis (Gary Trousdale/Kirk Wise, Disney, USA 2001)

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Hironobu Sakaguchi, Square Pictures, USA 2001)

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Tetsuya Nomura, Square Enix, Japan 2005)

The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear/Drenger der ville gore det umulige (Jannik Hastrup, France 2002)

Spirit Stallion of Cimarron (Kelly Asbury/Lorna Cook, DreamWorks, USA 2002)

Pinocchio (Ben Sharpsteen/Hamilton Luske and sequence directors, Disney, USA 1940)

Hakujaden/The Tale of the White Serpent (Taiji Yabushita/Kazuhiko Okabe, Japan 1958)

Nerawareta Gakuen (Ryosuke Nakamura, Sunrise/Madman, Japan 2012)

Genius Party (Anthology with many segment directors, Studio 4°C, Japan 2007)

Tarzan (Kevin Lima/Chris Buck, Disney, USA 1999)

Neo Tokyo/Meikyū Monogatari (Anthology with many segment directors, Project Team Argos/Madhouse, Japan 1976)



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3 responses to “The Most Beautiful Animated Movies

  1. Neither of my two favorite animated films appear on this list–The Emperor’s New Groove and The Iron Giant. I think you’ve seen both of those already, though.

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