15 of the best-animated movies to watch during lockdown
It’s Lockdown 2.0
It’s November and we’ve entered into our second lockdown of the year so I thought it’s as good a time as any to bring back our “things-to-keep-us-entertained-whilst-we’re-all-at-home” series.
We’ve played to our own worldwide demise with a list of disaster movies to get through. We’ve brought you back to life with some feel-good classics. Now, it’s time to delve into the wonderful world of animation.
I’ve got to admit I have a soft spot for an animated film, or TV show actually. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through The Lion King without shedding more than a few tears. There’s something in the formula of stunning visuals, characters overcoming adversity and perhaps a good song or two, that well, just works.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, 101 Dalmatians, Lion King. I grew up with all of these on VCR. And what we know and love in animated productions probably started exclusively with Disney. They reigned supreme for most of the 20th century and their classics are still known and loved today.
That all changed when Beauty and The Beast crashed the 1991 Academy Awards with a nomination for Best Picture. It didn’t win. However, the thought of an actor-less winning movie caused such a stir in Hollywood that they gave the genre its own category “Best Animated Picture”.
And so the floodgates opened for new animated movies, not only hand-drawn but also digitally mastered. Welcome, Pixar, Dreamworks and 20th Century Fox to the stage.
A New Golden Era
Certainly, since the turn of the century animation has entered something of a golden era. There’s an endless list of production houses churning out banger after banger. And despite being a medium dominated by kids films, it’s always been available to adults too. A few of my favourite adult animations make it onto the list below.
Whether you’re chilling solo, on the sofa with your partner or have a household of kids to entertain, animated movies (the good ones at least) bring something to the table for everyone. Which is part and parcel of their winning recipe.
So, if you’re a fan of animated movies or not quite convinced. In no particular order, here’s a list of 15 to get you started….
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The first ever full length cel animated feature film which proved an audience could be spellbound by a cartoon for 80 minutes. The adapted Brother’s Grimm story of an evil queen, overcome by a beautiful princess with a little help from her friends and a handsome hero to boot, became something of a winning formula for Disney. As beautiful today as it was back then.
Lion King (1994)
I’ve mentioned it a few times already so it would be rude not to include it in the list. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a millennial who doesn’t love the Lion King. You’ll want to grab a box of tissues and give your Dad a hug for this one.
Toy Story (1995)
If this isn’t one of the greatest debuts’s ever made, I’m not sure what is. Pixar burst into the cinematosphere with a cult classic (which has spurred on to produce no less than 3 further films, and Toy Story 4, in particular, deserves an honourable mention). It brought to life an idea we all had as children – that our toys secretly came to life when we weren’t watching.
Spirited Away (2001)
Studio Ghibli could probably have a greatest hits list all of their own. This is the first I ever watched and still my favourite. It’s neither dream nor reality, and at times scary and strange. But that all just adds to the wonderment. At the heart of the story is a child figuring out how complicated the world can be.
A graphic novel on-screen is the best way to describe Persepolis and arguably it’s the first ‘adult’ animation on the list. A fictionalised autobiography of a rebellious teen who gives us their perspective of Iran during the rise of the Islamist government. This is a personal favourite, which has me gripped from start to finish.
There must be something in the water at Pixar because they really do know how to turn out a movie that makes your eyes wet. This film features another unlikely pair, Carl an old and rather grumpy man and Russel, an over eager child with all the innocence of youth, who end up afloat on an adventure in a house of balloons. At its core, it’s a story about never being too old to fulfil your dreams – something we all need reminding of.
Isle of dogs (2018)
I remember waiting two years for this to come out. And it was worth the wait. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, you’ll love this. If you understand the love for a pet, you’ll be hooked too. The story is set in a fictional version of Japan and follows Atari searching for his dog Spot aided by a pack of banished dogs. It’s a beautifully crafted stop-motion picture, that’s meticulous, quirky and charming all at once.
What happens when you actually defeat your enemy? What happens when that’s not even the end of the movie? Megamind is a blue anti-villain who wants so badly to be bad but just isn’t very good at it. Whilst it may not be the most innovative plotline, it’s an easy win in my opinion. Funny throughout and pleasantly uplifting it’s a good one for all the family.
Inside Out (2015)
Adored by critics and audiences alike this movie invites you to look inside viewers to explore their own mind. A story of emotions and I mean literally. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust man the control board of 11-year-old Riley. It’s about growing up and the difficult decisions we have to make along the way. Relatable at any stage in life, really.
How to train your Dragon (2010)
Hiccup, yup that the protagonist’s name, must kill a dragon to cross into manhood and gain kudos in his Viking Village. However, he breaks away from the mould and bonds with a dragon instead. The movie subverts many traditional animation tropes; animals don’t talk and the nerdy kid saves the day. A story of finding your own path and a true embodiment of ‘love thy enemy’.
Shrek never seems to make it onto these best of lists, and I cannot understand why. The classic princess movie in some ways but in lieu of the handsome prince is a true anti-hero in the ogre – Shrek. It’s hilarious, laugh out loud comedy from start to finish, watch it anytime you need a little pick me up.
Spider Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)
Comic book fans rejoice. Spider Man into the Spider Verse is the first ever feature animated Spide-Man film. An impressive storyline and visually stunning animation, this film won countless awards and is definitely worth a viewing.
Pixar’s ninth feature film set in the far future. Although, in my opinion, the garbage pile up that causes humans to leave Earth has always felt poignantly present. Wall-E, a most loveable robot and unlikely hero encounters EVE the no-nonsense probe robot. What follows is an adventure across the galaxy where we find out what happened to civilization after generations of over consumption and technological reliance.
The Iron Giant (1999)
This film was largely overlooked when it came out due to a marketing disaster. But it’s worthy of a huge audience. Another tear-jerker, this animation by Director Brad Bird is an adaptation of British Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes’ novel The Iron Man. A cult classic, you’d be foolish to miss it.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Last but not least, and my second Wes Anderson of this list, I present you with Fantastic Mr Fox. An adaptation of a Roald Dahl phenomenon the movie deserves its cult status. Though the book is a children’s favourite, the stellar voice cast (George Clooney, Meryl Streep) with Anderson’s dry wit gives the whole affair a more grown up undertone.