What better way to keep the children entertained than a classic animated film? Let’s be honest, though, as adults, we probably enjoy them even more than kids do. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 all-time favourite animated feature-length films that kept us smiling, crying and singing throughout the years.
10 The Iron Giant
Often overlooked on many people’s top picks, The Iron Giant serves up exciting, thrilling action sequences and tender, moving storytelling in a fantastic tapestry of 2D and 3D animation. The story of a young boy’s relationship with a massive, clunky alien robot is directed by the legendary Brad Bird and made many of us jealous not to have a massive robot friend. It has a beautiful colour palette and equally colourful characters which will have you rewatching it over and over again.
9 Red Turtle
There’s something wonderfully different about The Red Turtle that’s hard to describe without actually watching it. It’s completely engrossing and captivating but not in a usual character-driven sense. Although the story is fantastic, it feels more like we are drifting along with a piece of art. Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit, you can certainly feel the presence of Studio Ghibli who lent a hand in the writing process.
8 Wallace and Gromit
Many animators from Britain were inspired to learn the craft after growing up with Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit videos cemented into their VCRs (something for you young folk to google…), and they’ve certainly become an iconic national treasure. The original films were made on comparably shoestring budgets, in contrast to the modern masterpieces like ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ that Aardman now produce. However it’s those original films that have made our list. “A Grand Day Out”, “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave” will always have a place in our hearts, and we love every single second for their wonky, thumbprint covered charm.
7 My Neighbour Totoro
A giant fluffy chinchilla, tiny dust creatures and a huge cat bus. Is there anything more that needs to be said? Hayao Miyazaki, who gave us Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, gifts us with another astonishing visual rollercoaster that is as bewildering as it is comforting. In typical Ghibli fashion, My Neighbour Totoro is crammed full of fantasy, forest spirits and fun. Definitely check it out.
Incredibly emotive and full of character, Pixar’s “UP” is our choice for sixth spot. Directed by Bob Peterson and Pete Doctor, this masterpiece had so many viewers in floods of tears soon after the opening sequences. With an equal balance of hilarious, thrilling and poignant moments, this compelling story reminds us that every grumpy person has a heartwarming backstory. Kids will enjoy the gleeful vibrancy of the characters and adults will be left feeling incredibly uplifted. In case you’re wondering if you can actually lift yourself up with a bunch of helium balloons, you can’t. We tried.
5 Belleville Rendez-Vous
There is something so mesmerising and hypnotic about Belleville Rendez-Vous (also know as Les triplettes de Belleville). The stunning visual style is often distorted and delightfully rasping, which alone makes it worth a watch. It has an intriguing storyline splashed with bizarre and odd moments that make it wonderfully charming. Directed by Sylvain Chomet, this film also features on our list of “our top 5 animated films you probably haven't seen (and should)”. A film about a missing cyclist with hardly any dialogue doesn’t sound like much, but this film has won over so many people who are willing to give it a chance.
Story telling giants, Pixar, struck gold again in 2008 in our 4th place animated film of all time. WALL·E features some of the coolest robot designs ever. It’s hard not to fall in love with the hapless, bumbling cube as he tries to punch above his weight and win over EVE, a much sleeker and modern robot. With an equal measure of hilariously painful and heartfelt moments, it’s like watching a broken 80's Walkman trying to impress an iPhone. Directed by Andrew Stanton, this film has an underlying eco-friendly message, without being too “in your face” about it. For a film whose main character has very little dialogue, WALL·E certainly spoke to so many of us.
3 Spirited Away
Third place on our list is the beloved fantasy epic, Spirited Away. It’s hard not to get swept away watching this and you can fully understand why it is an Academy Award winner.
The art style is typically Ghibli, being somehow delicate and powerfully bold at the same time. We’ve actually watched horror films that had characters that weren’t as creepy as some of those featured in this film, so it might give some younger viewers a few sleepless nights, (and older ones too). No disrespect to the American dub, but we always prefer to watch it in its original Japanese form where possible. The otherworldly fantasy nightmare environment is held together by the believably human characters and complemented with compelling music.
2 Beauty and the Beast
I challenge the most stubborn and joyless of people to not want to stand up and stomp along to some of these impossibly catchy songs. Back when animated films came hand-in-hand with melodic masterpieces, for us, Disney’s 1991 Beauty and Beast always stood head and shoulders above the rest. Talking candlesticks, singing teapots and a fairytale romance all combined with gorgeous scenery and perfect animation. I don’t think we’re being nostalgic here, either, it really is that good. No one fights like Gaston. No one.
1 Toy Story
You probably saw this one coming. Toy Story is one of the few animated films to pull off 3 equally impressive sequels, and any one of them could have featured at the top of our list. It’s strange to think that the original is pretty much ancient now, and although it’s aged visually, it’s lost absolutely none of its touch.
John Lasseter and Pixar hit a home run by animating a bunch of toys that appealed to children and reached most adults on a sentimental level. Tom Hanks delivers some of the best voice work of any animated film, ever, in this instant classic that had a combination of action, humour and emotion. The toys holding hands as they slide into a furnace in Toy Story 3, Buzz dancing in Spanish mode, the claaaaaaw, Randy Newman’s “You’ve got a Friend in Me”, there’s too much here to love. We think it’ll take some time before anything challenges Toy Story for the top spot.
So there you have it, our top 10, with honourable mentions going to Ratatouille and Soul which only narrowly missed out. We’re excited to see what the future holds for animated films. What will the next generation of children have as their animated childhood memories? And how many more Toy Stories there will be...