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The Best Animated Movies Ever, According To Ranker

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Due to the greater range of emotion and movement granted by animated characters compared to their live-action human counterparts, animated films have truly hit their stride. Cartoons, anime, and animated films produced by big studios such as Disney and Dreamworks have burst onto the scene to become one of the most profitable sources of entertainment in the world. With bankable franchises from Toy Story to Shrek, these films have become beloved pieces of media for both children and adults.

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Naturally, this means audiences have taken to the internet to discuss the greatest works in animation history. According to the fans at Ranker, some animated films stand tall above the rest when discussing the best of all time. Due to the fan vote aspect of the website, this list is always subject to change.

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Frozen

Elsa and Anna Frozen

One of the highest-grossing animated films of all time behind only The Lion King and Frozen IIFrozen tells an epic tale of sisterhood set in the magically mysterious kingdom of Arendelle. The film is complemented by excellent original melodies, which boasts at least one song that’s bound to be stuck in the minds of viewers weeks later. 

Sisters Anna and Elsa have been loved by audiences of all ages since they debuted in 2013. Both sisters are excellent role models for young people due to their concern for others, inner strength, and kind nature. While Elsa’s problems may seem difficult to understand, Anna consistently refuses to give up on her in Frozen. This demonstrates the sisters’ deep friendship and the value of empathy amongst family.


Monsters University

Monsters University dorm room

Following up on the massively successful Monsters, Inc., Monsters University had a big pair of shoes to fill. Serving as a prequel to the original, audiences are treated to a world where Mike, Sully, and their nemesis Randall are all still in college and receiving the training to become terrifying monsters.

This movie grants viewers the privilege of answering the question, “What would a monster frat party look like?” And it is just as hilarious as one would expect. While some fans will always prefer the original work, Monsters University paid tribute to its predecessor. More importantly, it provides a tasteful addition to the interesting world of monsters.


The Lion King

Baby Simba held up by Rafiki in The Lion King.

A story that instilled itself as an all-time classic, The Lion King certainly deserves to go down as one of the best-animated movies ever. This movie highlights the wonders of the African safari and is so beloved that it inspired a 2019 live-action remake under the same name.

Furthermore, the Shakespearean elements of this film are successfully conveyed by the animated animal cast. The Lion King borrows a lot of inspiration from Hamlet to absolutely brilliant effect. With some of the most iconic voice acting and soundtrack work in animation history, this film has burrowed itself deep in pop culture and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.


Shrek 2

Shrek 2

There’s a heated debate on whether or not Shrek 2 is superior to the original. While Shrek was excellent for establishing the franchise, it’s clear why Shrek 2 is the stronger animated picture. Even as the debate rages on, both films sport some of the best soundtracks of the earlier 2000s and helped establish the beloved franchise.

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While many movies sequels grow stagnant, Shrek 2 builds off its predecessor and offers a much-needed expansion to the Shrek universe by introducing new characters like Puss In Boots. It also helped develop Shrek and Fiona’s relationship further by allowing the two the opportunity to become human forms and exploring themes of “normal”. Shrek 2 gives us one of the best climaxes in an unforgettable sequence.


Robin Hood

Robin holding his bow in Disney's Robin Hood

While Robin Hood is a well-documented figure who may or may not have existed, it’s hard to argue that Disney’s decision to turn the notorious criminal from man to fox is equal parts clever and just plain cool. Robin Hood features the sly bandit pursuing his mission to steal from the rich and give back to the poor in an attempt to end the daily suffering of his peers.

While the story may be familiar, seeing characters like Little John, Sir Hiss, and Prince John brought to life as animals help imbue some life into the story and make it appealing for audiences of all ages. Ultimately, these colorful personalities teach viewers that there are occasions in life where it’s ok to stand up for yourself and others who need support.


Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl smiling brightly in Howl's Moving Castle

Studio Ghibli never fails to bring that magical feeling with every entry that they create. Howl’s Moving Castle is no exception with a fantastical world that audiences will always remember. This film offers a plethora of likable and unique characters who help contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of a world in turmoil.

Howl’s Moving Castle has several intertwining storylines that can make the first viewing difficult to follow along, but this fact also makes every rewatch more enjoyable than the last. Each rewatch, for a viewer, builds off of the previous experience. Turnip-Head, Calcifer, and the Witch of the Waste are some of the greatest side characters of the 21st century and help cement this film as a classic.


Lady And The Tramp

Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti Scene

Ironically, one of Disney’s most revered love stories doesn’t even feature two humans as the main characters at all. Lady And The Tramp is a tale that has entertained audiences for over 65 years, even recently receiving a makeover in 2019’s live-action rendition of the film.

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Lady And The Tramp is not just a love story, however, as it explores the oddity of wealth inequality between Lady and Tramp. While Lady has lived a pampered life, she has been treated as a material object and ultimately is pushed aside. This draws her to the true freedom that a dog like Tramp enjoys.


101 Dalmatians

The dogs all watching TV in 101 Dalmatians

Despite the simple premise of 101 Dalmatians, it is a story that has stood the test of time and never failed to entertain. While some stories offer intricate plots where the lines between good and evil are blurred, 101 Dalmatians make it easy to root for the heroes as they attempt to evade the grasp of Cruella de Vil.

Not only does Cruella’s costume design (and song) remain iconic to this day. This film also helped popularize the dalmatian as demand for the loveable dogs soared following its 1961 release. This movie is perfect for animal lovers and families alike. The Dalmatians’ triumph over Cruella proves to be a heartwarming story well worth a rewatch or two.


The Polar Express

Polar Express Quotes

Every year, The Polar Express never fails to be an instant hit near the holidays. This Christmas classic follows the main characters, Hero Boy and Hero Girl, as they punch their tickets to board the Polar Express and make the long journey to the North Pole.

The Polar Express proves to be a treacherous trek but is also filled with several unforgettable joyous moments. While some viewers found the CGI offputting and creepy at first, many have grown fonder of the film’s aesthetic as time passes as it falls deeper into the uncanny valley.

Toy Story

As Pixar’s debut film, Toy Story splashed onto the scene and helped cement the legacy the animation studio would go on to create. It all starts in Toy Story though, arguably the best animated film ever made, at least according to the fans at Ranker.


Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear — and the rest of the motley crew of various toys — have engrained themselves into the pop culture pantheon through their ability to always fill a room with laughter. Toy Story‘s success would go on to launch an extremely successful franchise that would span four films and help fans everywhere connect with…

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