Animated films are often looked down upon and seen as less important than other genres. However, animated films have the potential to break barriers and explore creativity and storytelling to a level that other genres just can’t. There are plenty of under-appreciated animated films which would make a great weekend movie night such as The Polar Express (an actual good Christmas film), Balto, Atlantis: The Lost Empire (which you should rewatch as an adult). On this list, we are focusing on 10 animated films that can help you get into the genre or rediscover its capabilities.
1. Loving Vincent
Loving Vincent is the first fully hand-painted feature film. Every single shot in this film has been painted by hand in the technique used by Vincent Van Gogh. The film is a drama based on the life of the famous painter. It is well worth seeing just to be awed by the beauty of the visuals and the time and effort that went into creating them. It is a stunning achievement of animation which is sure to spark an interest in Vincent Van Gogh’s life, work, and letters.
An amazing animated film by Pixar. If you ever wondered what ‘show don’t tell means’ watch Wall-E right now. It is a great film not only because of its storytelling and brilliant characters but because it will (hopefully) leave you thinking about the impact humans have on the world. It’s not just a brilliant love story, but also a deeply moving and thought-provoking film.
3. Spirited Away
You should watch this animated film even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of animations. Hayao Miyazaki’s films are full of creativity and imagination. Spirited Away has been beloved by people of all ages and backgrounds. If you are still not convinced, check out this video about the Philosophy of Miyazaki. It’s a film beyond words, so just go and watch it.
4. Tale of Princess Kaguya
This is another animated film by Studio Ghibli. The film is beautiful and you can see the work and passion of the animators through the images. The film is full of emotion and wonder. If you want to learn more about the myth of Princess Kaguya, which serves as a base for the film check out this video. It’s a beautiful animation both visually and narratively.
5. The Adventures Of Prince Achmed
Let me tell you a bit about the creator of this beautifully animated film. Lotte Reiniger was a German film director who pioneered silhouette animation. Her animated films were made with exceptional skill and are a must-see for anyone interested in film. The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a perfect place to start. It is probably her most famous work and it is known as the oldest surviving animated feature dating back to 1926. The film takes parts of Arabian Nights and blends them together. It is a simple story, which is visually stunning. It is an impressive, timeless work of art.
6. The Prince Of Egypt
This is another visually stunning animated film and the first traditionally animated film produced by DreamWorks. The religious themes of the Prince of Egypt might throw some people off initially. This film, however, goes far beyond its source when it comes to storytelling. The characters in this film are complex and driven and the conflict between the brothers is very well done. What stands out the most is the quality of the animation. The facial expressions and movements of the characters, the scenes, and the lighting. And the soundtrack is fantastic.
7. The Iron Giant
This animated film is an underrated classic. The film is directed by Brad Bird who later directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille, both of which are great films. The art style and music are brilliant. There are a lot of jokes and references that are definitely aimed at the older crowd. It’s definitely worth rewatching the film if you saw it as a kid. The scene where the giant meets a deer is probably my favorite in terms of visuals. It is a truly great animated film, which hasn’t received the popularity it deserves.
8. How To Train Your Dragon
This is one of the best contemporary animated films. How To Train Your Dragon is a trilogy and the second part is my personal favorite, though this will definitely be a box set worth having. All of the films are brilliant and they work well both individually and as a set. Each film has a great central story, yet they work together to take you on a bigger journey. The characters are very well developed, the world is very detailed and well thought out. It is a beautiful piece of animation that will make an amazing addition to any film collection.
This film is probably most profoundly remembered by its beginning sequence. As we’ve seen in Wall-E, Pixar knows how to tell a story through visuals and music. In the beginning sequence, you get the full emotional impact of a story, which could have been made into a feature. The film itself is a great adventure and a lot of fun. The visuals are superb and the story is extremely moving (and will have you collecting balloons). It’s one of those animated films that you just have to see.
10. Song Of The Sea
This is definitely one of the most beautiful animated films I have ever seen. The swimming sequence is magical! The whole film is magical. If you enjoyed The Secret Of Kells, which is amazing, you should definitely see this one. The animation and art are elevated in Song Of The Sea. The backgrounds are astounding, the story is beautiful, the characters are very well developed and it is a gem of animation.
There’s a lot to see in terms of animated films and sometimes you don’t need a feature-length film to tell a beautiful story. Here are some animated shorts for you to enjoy right now: Blind Vaysha, Geri’s Game, The Man Who Planted Trees, The Old Man And The Sea, Father and Daughter.