The Top Ten Most Memorable Animated Films

September 14, 2009 by  

Jasmine’s list of the most visually stunning and unforgettable classics of all time!

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artwork by Anna Becker

It wasn’t easy putting together a list of the top ten most memorable animated films. I argued with friends, searched online, and finally started to make a list. It began with at least twenty-five films. Then, basing everything on animation, music, plot and emotional appeal, I mournfully crossed out fifteen films and ended up with this list.

10. Bambi (1942)

Number ten on the countdown is the fifth film in the Walt Disney Classics. Bambi, for those who have lived under a rock since 1942, tells the story about a young fawn that tragically loses his mother at a young age at the hands of the movie’s villain: mankind. Even with limited dialogue and outdated music, the movie is an emotionally satisfying look at life in the forest for Bambi and his friends, Thumper (the rabbit) and Flower (the skunk). There is humor when romance is introduced, fear when man disturbs the peace, and joy as the audience watches Bambi grow strong and start a family of his own.

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stop-motion masterpiece that managed to successfully combine two favorite holidays into one feature length film. It captures the excitement of Halloween and the true spirit of Christmas with touches of humor and a catchy soundtrack that leaves its audience humming well after the movie has ended. The very lovably Jack Skellington tires of the frighteningly routine happenings of Halloween and wanders into a strange forest with doorways that lead into other holiday towns. Curious Jack becomes spellbound by a Christmas tree and is thrown right into Christmas Town. After experiencing a healthy dose of Christmas, Jack decides to take on Santa’s role; a decision that leads to disastrous results but a lesson is learned.

8. Shrek (2001)

With an all-star cast, Shrek (Mike Myers) turned into one of the best loved action-comedies for both kids and adults. Shrek is an ogre, who would rather be left alone, but much to his annoyance a multitude of fairytale characters start intruding on his swamp, including a very talkative Donkey (Eddie Murphy) who accompanies Shrek when he decides to confront the man responsible for the fairytale-refugees. Shrek strikes a deal, and in order to get his swamp back he must rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Complications arise when Shrek and Fiona fall in love but Fiona reveals her secret and they all live happily…until Shrek 2.

7. Up (2009)

Pixar’s most recent hit is about a very old man named Carl (Edward Asner) and a young boy named Russell (Jordan Nagai). From its heartbreaking beginning, to its sidesplitting middle and its satisfying end, Up is on its way to becoming another Pixar classic. After losing his wife, Carl becomes a bitter old man who becomes even angrier when construction workers want to tear down his house. Deciding to follow a dormant dream he shared with his wife, Carl decides to fly to South America and take his house with him. Unfortunately Russell also comes along for the ride and the adventure begins. Like so many other Pixar films, this one also has a message: you’re never too old to live.

6. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast comes in at number six, because not only is it the only full-length animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but for its message. The film has an entirely lovable cast of characters who carry their own on screen next to the out-spoken Beauty and the monstrous Beast. It begins with a pompous prince being punished by an enchantress for his egotistical behavior. The spell would last forever unless by his twenty-first year the Beast could learn to love another and be loved in return. Shortly after, Belle is introduced as the daughter of an inventor – who sets everything in motion when the Beast captures him. The villainous Gaston is practically a mirror of society’s harsh judgment on those it deems different or monstrous. The hand drawn and computer animated scenes breed wonderfully memorable scenes and coupled with a great score Disney’s thirtieth classic will never be forgotten.

5. Finding Nemo (2003)

Nemo needs to be found in this enchanting film about a father’s relentless search for his son. The deep-sea movie is something everyone should experience, with colors, sights, and sounds that make the audience members feel like they are actually swimming deep down in the ocean. Marlin (Albert Brooks) the clownfish is an over protective father whose neurotic behavior causes his son to rebel against him. In an effort to prove his independence, Nemo (Alexander Gould) ends up being captured by a diver and whisked away to a dentist’s office in Sydney, Australia. Together with a delightfully optimistic fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who only has short term memory, Marlin journeys all across the ocean. Along the way they meet some vegetarian sharks, make friends with sea turtles traveling along the east Australian current, and are swallowed by a blue whale.

4. Princess Mononoke (1999)

Princess Mononoke is a beautiful masterpiece by visionary and artistic master, Hiyao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away). It tells an intriguing tale of triumph, honor, courage, and love. The story’s main protagonist is the resilient Prince Ashitaka and the fearless Princess Mononoke. After saving his village from a crazed boar demon, Ashitaka suffers a potentially fatal wound on his arm only to ironically discover that the wound is cursed and would eventually kill him. After being forced into exile, Ashitaka starts heading west in hopes of finding a cure. It isn’t long before Ashitaka stumbles right into an ancient and brutal war that involves the rapidly evolving humans clashing with the forest gods. Ashitaka resolves to keep the peace between the warring sides (and also somehow find a cure) with the help of the mysterious Princess that was raised by wolves. The film went on to be Japan’s second highest grossing film after Titanic.

3. WALL-E (2008)

Pixar’s ride on the science fiction side produced a memorable and extremely adorable story about a robot that fell in love. Even though a chunk of the film hardly has any spoken words, the audience is immediately drawn to the image of the abandoned trash covered Earth that WALL-E calls home. The sensitive robot has the planet all to himself and spends most of his days piling trash and even collecting his own treasures. Then one day he meets EVE, a female robot sent on a mission to inspect Earth and find anything that has possibly survived in the toxic wasteland. Pixar couldn’t be more blunt about its message about the state of the Earth’s environment. WALL-E instantly falls for EVE and so begins a fun filled adventure that has WALL-E literally fighting for humanity’s future.

2. Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away is a visually stunning film and another breathtaking animated movie in Hiyao Miyazaki’s (Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle) collection. Ten-year-old Chihiro becomes the story’s unlikely hero after her parents are turned into pigs by a witch. In order to save her parents, Chihiro must work in a bathhouse that caters only to spirits, while also doing different tasks for the witch. Chihiro befriends a boy named Haku, who is also indebted to the witch but helps Chihiro any way he can. Along the way there are encounters with fearsome demons, mysterious spirits, and a number of memorable characters that makes the film an imaginative, heartwarming adventure.

1. The Lion King (1994)

With Africa as its backdrop, The Lion King (loosely based on Hamlet) is an unforgettable action-adventure film that deserves its number one spot. After losing his father Mufasa, a young lion cub named Simba runs away from home. His evil uncle Scar is responsible for Mufasa’s death but doesn’t stop from blaming the grief stricken Simba in order to take the throne for his own. With the help of his new found friends, Timon (a meerkat) and Pumba (a wart hog), Simba buries his guilt and starts to enjoy life as an exile. Inevitably, Simba runs into his childhood friend and love interest, Nala, and questions arise about his disappearance. Simba’s past catches up with him but the ghost of his beloved father makes him accept the pull of his responsibilities. The songs are enjoyable, there is endless humor, but most of all The Lion King touches everyone in a way that no other film can.