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My Top 20 Favourite Animated Films

I have just finished my first philosophy a level exam today and the questions were a bastard but I think I did well on them. Anyway, I cannot be bothered to revise for my next exam at the moment, so I am going to talk about animated films instead. This is my favourite medium in film by far due to how much you can push the limits of this medium allowing for some of the most creative films to be made and I have some favourites.
21Honourable Mentions

-Shrek 2 (2004)
-Lilo & Stitch (2002)
-Klaus (2019)
-Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
-Pretty much every Ghibli film that is not already on this list.
-In This Corner of the World (2016) Watch this if you liked Grave of the Fireflies. It is pretty similar but is a bit more "slice of lifey" than full on war drama.
-Ratatouille (2007)
20The Incredibles (2004)

I grew up watching a lot of the 2000’s era Pixar movies so naturally, I have tons of nostalgia for all of them and for all of them (outside of Cars) my enjoyment and appreciation has only increased with age. The Incredibles is one of these films. Not only has the animation held up pretty well but so has everything else. Even amongst the superhero fatigue brought about by Marvel from the past decade, this film still manages to be stay unique and more character driven. Also, the villain, Syndrome, is one of the best, even outside Pixar’s filmography, due to his interesting yet flawed ideologies and how unpredictably insane he is.
19Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

The fact that this was a double feature with My Neighbour Totoro is absolutely insane even though it makes complete sense in a weird way. Anyway, this is one of the most effective ant-war films for me. It is a tough watch even if you know what happens in the story like I did on first viewing. Honestly this is a near perfect film but the only thing that keeps this slightly back for me is that it is not exactly the most rewatchable film ever. The final shot of this film is an all time favourite.
18Luca (2021)

Does Luca have the tightest script of all time? No. Is there a ton of plot holes? Yes, yes there is. Could there have been more added in terms of world building? Definitely. The things is, I just do not care. This film is an absolute joy. The three main leads are all very likeable and the humour gives consistent chuckles. Like the cat, I love the cat. The dramatic beats in the third act hit hard creating for an intense and emotional finale that actually makes me tear up a little and this rarely happens, even on rewatch.
17Monsters Inc. (2001)

Another childhood favourite right here that my appreciation for has only increased in time. Mike and Sully are an iconic duo with some of the best chemistry Pixar has to offer. Both Randall and Waternoose are effective villains. Boo is the absolute best, and the ending is actually perfect. Honestly, not a lot to say with this one but I love it.
16My Life As a Zucchini (2016)

Ashamedly, I have not watched a lot of French animation but the few I have watched have been great. The Summit of the Gods and I Lost My Body have been some of the most visually creative films of the past few years, but My Life As a Zucchini is without a doubt the best film to come from France I have seen. With its incredible stop motion animation and its seamless transition from absolute childish whimsy to some absolutely depressing shit, the film remains constantly engaging. But yeah, do not let the animation fool you, this is dark. Still, I wish the film was longer.
15The End of Evangelion (1997)

This film is fucked up. Despite that, this film (as well as the show) has had one of the biggest effects on me than any other film has. It is what got me to study Philosophy at A-Level and hopefully in university too. Anyway, I hope this film makes more sense on rewatch.
14How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

This is best Dreamworks film. No, I have not seen Puss and Boots 2 yet, but it is unlikely that it is better than this near masterpiece. Nostalgia has nothing to do with this film’s placement by the way. The films pacing and structure is perfect, and you cannot deny this, as well as the character writing. Hiccup, Toothless and Stoic are amazing characters and watching each grow throughout the film will never not be engaging. Also, the score, come on, very few are more epic sounding than this films score.
13Wall-E (2008)

The first act of this film is one of the best out there. It sets up the main leads perfectly and the worldbuilding is second to none helped by the eerie score while starting an amazing robot love story that leads to an epic space adventure. And they did this with no dialogue. While the rest of the film isn’t as good as the first act due to a fairly weak villain, the films core message on environmentalism still remains as terrifying as it has ever been, even 15 years later.
12Millennium Actress (2001)

Just like every other Satoshi Kon film, it is a short film that barely exceeds the 80 minute mark that still manages to feel as impactful and dense as most 2 hour+ films. Through insanely clever animation and storytelling techniques, it turns a simple idea into a work that completely blows your mind. It is intense and it is emotional. A somewhat local cinema was playing this recently and I am absolutely gutted that I missed this.
11The Wind Rises (2013)

Miyazaki is often considered one of the best directors of animation and it is easy to see why and The Wind Rises is one of 10 examples that prove this (and hopefully 11 soon. Cannot wait for his new film). The main story of this film is one of the most engaging on this list. It follows a man who dreams of making planes in live. He views plane as a type of art. However, once he achieves this dream of the making planes, WW2 has started, and his work is used to kill. He struggles with this dilemma while also trying to keep his homelife under control. This film is probably the closest a film has got me to crying (outside The Return of the King, but that is not animated so I am not going to talk about it), so yeah, this film is excellent.
10Toy Story (1995)

This is another childhood favourite and another comfort film for me. Like, I am pretty sure I know every exact word that is coming next whenever I watch it. This film is beyond funny while still having the characters grounded in their situation. Tom Hanks as Woody is also probably some of the best voice acting out there, or at least in terms of comedy. Even though the animation hasn’t aged particularly well, it remains impressive and charming to this day.
9The Lion King (1994)

Not a lot to talk about with this film to be honest but this is Disney at their A-game. It has their best comedic relief characters making the jungle scenes an absolute blast to watch, amazing musical numbers and one of their best villains being Scar who is animated and performed perfectly.
8The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

Perfection. This would be 1 but God decided to limit this films awesomeness to give every other film at least a bit of a chance.
7Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017)

This is why I love animation so much. It allows us to push the medium to it’s limits allowing for some of the most creative visuals and storytelling in film as it is bound to real people and real sets. You can make it as insane as you want, you can make it as incoherent as you want while still portraying a grounded message. Even when the film does not make that much sense, it is still beyond fun from the black market book scene, pub crawl and to the even more creative climax.
6A Silent Voice (2016)

I expected to hate this film. Romances are very hit or miss for me, especially anime romances, but clearly, I quite like this film. Even though its melodrama is tiring at some points, the films huge cast of characters are so well, characterised, that even the smallest characters in the main group felt full of life. Watching them all live out their lives is just fun. It’s portrayal of mental health is well used allowing for some creative decisions in the animation and the films most dramatic moments were unexpected yet still clearly earned but again, melodrama. Too much of this at points.
55. Castle In the Sky (1986)

This is simply one of the most exciting adventure films with stellar worldbuilding and characters. From solid slapstick to scenes that give me genuine goosebumps, this is another Miyazaki classic for a reason.
44. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Epic. This film is an epic. With an opening scene like this, it can immediately grab anyone’s attention and keep it for the rest of the film. All of the characters ideologies are so well realised, it has led to one of the most nuanced and interesting takes from a film on environmental issues. No one here is a villain, and no one here is a hero. This is the reason why the films battle scenes are so good; it is hard to decide who to root for, but you don’t want anyone to win but you don’t want them to die either. Also, the films landscapes are just stunning.
3Perfect Blue (1997)

And this is Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece. It is disturbing yet hard not to keep on watching. The confusing story allows for multiple rewatches and interpretations. It’s used of colour theory is simply genius that I wish that I was not colourblind and see the storytelling through the colours for myself. Anyway, this is another film with the one of the greatest final shots. Also, how is this only 80 minutes? The amount of story here makes it feel like it should be at least two hours but no, it is 80 minutes without even feeling rushed. This film is just genius.
22. Spirited Away (2001)

Honestly, I cannot choose which of 1 and 2 are favourite. Anyway, Spirited Away. This is a basic favourite for a pretty darn good reason, I think. That is because it is a masterpiece. It’s worldbuilding is seamless even though the world is so unusual that I find it hard to believe that someone actually came up with this. It is simply magical. Every frame is filled with character and unparalleled atmosphere with a score that is just iconic. One Summer’s Day, The Sixth Station and Reprise are some of my favourite pieces of music. Chihiro’s coming of age arc is one of the best examples of this trope. No Face is a top tier character. That is fact. The River Spirit and the train scene are some of my favourite ever as well.
1The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

On rewatch I realised that this is just one of the best films ever made. This film has some of the best animation ever. Every scene could be in an art gallery, I swear. Kaguya is one of the most sympathetic characters out there. Every emotion she feels, the audience feels it, from the absolute joy of returning to the blossom tree to the scene where the frustration overwhelms her, and she runs away from the mansion (this scene is probably an all-time favourite of mine. It took the animators like 8 months to animate these 30 seconds of film and every frame shows). In short, this is a visually stunning masterwork that ended Isao Takahata’s long career at a high.
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