Best Animated Movies

WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley ranks the best animated movies of all time in the gallery below.

Not seeing your favorite movie? It’s probably in a different genre! Check out the full list here.

30. ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010) – Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders

DreamWorks beat “Game of Thrones” to the punch as a medieval knight-in-training befriended the dragon Toothless for soaring animated gold.

29. ‘Despicable Me’ (2010) – Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Steve Carell voiced Gru and his gibberish-talking sidekick Minions created a pop culture phenomenon that inspired Pharrell’s “Happy” hit in the sequel.

28. ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988) – Hayao Miyazaki

It’s hard to imagine an animated character more cuddly than Totoro, a legend of Japanese anime.

27. ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) – Tim Burton

“What’s This?” Tim Burton subverted the Christmas movie by giving us a Jack & Sally romance in Halloweentown.

26. ‘The Land Before Time’ (1988) – Don Bluth

Don Bluth became Disney’s biggest rival with “An American Tale,” “All Dogs Go to Heaven” and this tale of hand-drawn dinos that sparked a whopping 10-film franchise.

25. ‘101 Dalmatians’ (1961) – Walt Disney

Walt Disney introduced Cruella de Ville as one of the all-time great villains as “Dalmatians” became the No. 12 grossing film ever (adjusted for inflation).

24. ‘Peter Pan’ (1953) – Walt Disney

Walt Disney sprinkled pixie dust on multiple generations with this flying tale of Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook’s antics in Neverland.

23. ‘Monsters Inc.’ (2001) – Pete Docter

Pixar cast Billy Crystal and John Goodman as Mike Wazowski and Sulley Sullivan training to become the scariest monsters in your bedroom closet.

22. ‘Cars’ (2006)

Owen Wilson voiced Lighting McQueen, Larry the Gable Guy cracked jokes as Tow Mater and Paul Newman delivered his last role as Doc Hudson in this fast commentary on interstates ravaging small towns on Route 66.

21. ‘Up’ (2009) – Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

After a tearjerking opening montage, this Pixar gem deserves a spot on any list because of … squirrel!

20. ‘Inside Out’ (2015) – Peter Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

Parents, children and psychologists could all appreciate the universal emotions of Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness.

19. ‘Coco’ (2017) – Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

Pixar’s tale of an aspiring mariachi musician broke ground with its Latino cast and won Oscars for Best Animated Film and the song “Remember Me.”

18. ‘Moana’ (2016) – Ron Clements, John Musker

Lin-Manuel Miranda followed “Hamilton” by penning “How Far I’ll Go” and “You’re Welcome,” belted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

17. ‘Spirited Away’ (2001) – Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki’s wonderfully bizarre tale of a young girl in a fantasy spirit world remains the crowning achievement of Japanese anime.

16. ‘Pinocchio’ (1940) – Walt Disney

Beautiful cel animation brought a puppet to life, while Jiminy Cricket’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” became Disney’s most iconic anthem.

15. ‘The Incredibles’ (2004) – Brad Bird

Pixar helped launch the superhero era with the super family of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet and Dash.

14. ‘WALL-E’ (2008) – Andrew Stanton

WALL-E and EVE were so adorable in their robotic romance that young kids forgot they were watching a near silent masterpiece.

13. ‘The Jungle Book’ (1967) – Walt Disney

Rudyard Kipling’s timeless tale taught us the “Bear Necessities” with catchy jungle tunes, such as “I Wanna Be Like You.”



12. ‘Cinderella’ (1950) – Walt Disney

The Disney brand was forever symbolized by Cinderella’s castle at Disney World and the dreamer’s ballad “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”

11. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959) – Walt Disney 

Maleficent was such a perfect Disney villain that Angeline Jolie coveted the live-action role decades later.

10. ‘Frozen’ (2013) – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Daughters will sing “Let It Go” forever as Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel voiced a timeless tale of sisters.

9. ‘Bambi’ (1942) – Walt Disney

Long before Mufassa, “Bambi” helped us mourn the death of a parent with the fawn’s pained cry, “Mother!”

8. ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003) – Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich

Albert Brooks searched for his lost clownfish son, while Ellen DeGeneres taught us all to “just keep swimming.”

7. ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) – Ron Clements, John Musker

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman saved Disney Animation from bankruptcy with songs like “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”

6. ‘Aladdin’ (1992) – Ron Clements, John Musker 

Robin Williams’ Genie stole the show, while Aladdin and Jasmine took an Oscar-winning song to “A Whole New World.”

5. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991) – Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Angela Lansbury’s title song in a chandelier crane shot made this animated musical the first Disney film nominated for Best Picture.

4. ‘Shrek’ (2001) – Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy cracked us up in DreamWorks’ smash-hit fractured fairytale that won the first ever Oscar for Best Animated Film.

3. ‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs’ (1937) – Walt Disney 

Disney silenced the doubters by producing the first ever feature-length animated film that still has us singing “Heigh Ho” over 80 years later.

2. ‘Toy Story’ (1995-2019) – John Lasseter

Pixar went to “infinity and beyond” with the first ever digitally-animated feature film and a Buzz and Woody buddy flick for the ages.

1. ‘The Lion King’ (1994) – Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

What do you get when you mix an epic “Hamlet” tale, African setting, diverse voice cast and music by Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer? The best animated film ever made.

Check out the other genres below!

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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