The 30 Best Animated Movies on Netflix, According to Critics
© Columbia Pictures The Mitchells vs. The Machines sees a road trip coincide with the robot apocalypse
Animated movies have grown up in recent decades and cartoons’ status now rivals those of their live-action counterparts.
Whether you are looking for arthouse anime or a super-slick CGI, Netflix has cartoon movies covered on its dedicated genre, via code 4698.The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)
A girl begins a road trip with her family to start film school when the robot apocalypse arrives.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Eye-catching and energetic, The Mitchells vs the Machines delivers a funny, feel-good story that the whole family can enjoy.”I Lost My Body (2019)
A disembodied hand escapes from a laboratory with the sole aim to reunite with its body.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Beautifully animated and utterly unique, I Lost My Body takes audiences on a singularly strange journey whose unexpected contours lead to a wholly satisfying destination.”Mirai (2018)
A runaway stumbles upon a magical garden that allows him to travel through time.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “The simplicity and colorful warmth of Mirai’s animation is underscored by a story with surprising—and deeply affecting—depth and emotional resonance.”Funan (2019)
A family attempts to survive the brutal Khmer Rouge, after the regime conquers Cambodia.
Matt Zoller Seitz wrote on review site RogerEbert.com: “In addition to being a rigorously written and directed personal account of a specific war, the film is an illustration of animation’s possibilities for artistic expression.”
© Les Films d’ici, Sébastien Onomo, Bac Films Funan finds a family attempting to survive the brutal Khmer Rouge regime Les Films d’ici, Sébastien Onomo, Bac Films A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
The titular character travels to the Big City to hunt for a mysteriously missing farmer.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon retains the charm of its small-screen source material while engagingly expanding the title character’s world.”A Silent Voice: The Movie (2016)
A bullied deaf student transfers to another school. Then, years later, a former tormentor attempts to make amends.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “As beautifully crafted as it is powerfully written, A Silent Voice looks at teen bullying from a soberingly hard-hitting perspective that’s uncommon for the animated medium.”How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
A pair of local children discover an ice cave home to hundreds of new wild dragons.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Exciting, emotionally resonant, and beautifully animated, How to Train Your Dragon 2 builds on its predecessor’s successes just the way a sequel should.”
© DreamWorks Animation Animated movie How to Train Your Dragon 2 was praised by critics DreamWorks Animation Rango (2011)
Deluded chameleon Rango unexpectedly arrives in a water-starved town filled with bandits.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment, and Johnny Depp gives a colorful vocal performance as a household pet in an unfamiliar world.”Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)
A girl follows a strange cat into a forest and discovers a broomstick and a flower imbued with magical powers.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Mary and the Witch’s Flower honors its creator’s Studio Ghibli roots with a gentle, beautifully animated story whose simplicity is rounded out by its entrancing visuals.”Children of the Sea (2019)
Haunted by a ghostly vision, a young girl is attracted to an aquarium and the two boys she encounters there.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “An animated adventure perhaps best appreciated as a visual experience, Children of the Sea is strikingly lovely if less than satisfying on a narrative level.”
© Studio 4°C The criticallyacclaimed Children of the Sea features a young girl attracted to an aquarium Studio 4°C The Princess and the Frog (2009)
A young woman begins an incredible quest to transform her frog prince into a human.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays.”In This Corner of the World (2016)
A young woman marries a stranger while coping with the difficulties of living in Hiroshima during World War II.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “In This Corner of the World offers a unique ground-level perspective on an oft-dramatized period in history, further distinguished by beautiful hand-drawn animation.”ParaNorman (2012)
A local boy boasting an ability to speak with the dead battles to save his small town when an army of zombies invades.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
© Laika ParaNorman introduces a boy boasting an extraordinary ability to speak with the dead Laika Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
An expert thief learns the money he stole from a casino is counterfeit.
Movie critic Janet Maslin said she believed the film “should fare nearly as well [as Akira] with animation fans of any age, provided they are unwavering in their devotion to the form and do not think 100 minutes is an awfully long time.”The Little Prince (2015)
When a girl befriends an eccentric aviator, he enchants her with tales about the adventures of a mysterious boy who lives on an asteroid.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Beautifully animated and faithful to the spirit of its classic source material, The Little Prince is a family-friendly treat that anchors thrilling visuals with a satisfying story.”Okko’s Inn (2018)
Newly orphaned girl Okko moves to the countryside to live with her grandmother who runs a traditional Japanese inn.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote: “Above all else, Kitarô Kôsaka’s Okko’s Inn is a warm and adorable new addition to the growing subgenre of animated children’s films about grief.”
© Dream Link Entertainment Okko’s Inn has been praised for providing a “warm and adorable new addition to the growing subgenre of animated children’s films about grief” Dream Link Entertainment Monster House (2006)
A trio of teens learns their next-door neighbour’s home is a monster that hates children.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Monster House offers adults and children alike into a household full of smart, monstrous fun.”The Willoughbys (2020)
Four siblings hatch a plan to get rid of their horrible parents and adapt to the modern world.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “An appealing animated adventure whose silliness is anchored in genuine emotion, The Willoughbys offers fanciful fun the entire family can enjoy.”Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
An eccentric scientist fixes his town’s sardine shortfall by building a machine causing every type of food imaginable to rain down.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Quirky humor, plucky characters and solid slapstick make this family comedy a frenetically tasty time at the movies.”
© Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainme… Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs involves an eccentric scientist attempt to fix his town’s sardine surfeit Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment The Land Before Time (1988)
An orphaned brontosaurus joins other dinosaurs to return to their families in a distant valley.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Beautifully animated and genuinely endearing, The Land Before Time is sure to please dino-obsessed tykes, even if it’s a little too cutesy for older viewers.”Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
Child genius Jimmy is tasked with rescuing adults after they are abducted by aliens.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “What Jimmy Neutron lacks in computer animation, it makes up for in charm and cleverness.”Puss in Boots (2011)
Puss joins forces with Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws to battle hardened criminals Jack and Jill.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “It isn’t deep or groundbreaking, but what it lacks in profundity, Puss in Boots more than makes up for with an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm.”
© DreamWorks Animation Puss in Boots finds the titular character join forces with Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws DreamWorks Animation Klaus (2019)
A postman is sent to a frozen town in the North where he discovers Santa Claus and forges an unlikely friendship.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Beautiful hand-drawn animation and a humorous, heartwarming narrative make Klaus an instant candidate for holiday classic status.”Bombay Rose (2019)
An orphan boy meets and falls in love with a young flower seller in Bombay, but their backgrounds prove problematic.
Movie critic Baradwaj Rangan wrote: “Bombay Rose subverts not just Bombay cinema’s storytelling, but also the implicit assumptions of Bombay cinema.”Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000)
Chuckie and his troupe of naughty toddlers visit the French capital where an adventure awaits.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “When the Rugrats go to Paris, the result is Nickelodeon-style fun.
“The plot is effectively character-driven, and features catchy songs and great celebrity voice-acting.”
© Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Pictures, Klasky Csupo Rugrats in Paris: The Movie sees Chuckie and his troupe of naughty toddlers visit the French capital Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Pictures, Klasky Csupo Lu Over the Wall (2017)
A new boy in town is invited to play the keyboard in a high school band.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Lu Over the Wall can be more fun to watch than to follow, but director Masaaki Yuasa’s distinctive visual style offers colorful compensation for an occasionally scattered story.”White Fang (2018)
A boy befriends a half-breed wolf as he searches for his father, who has disappeared during the gold rush-era U.S.
Movie critic Kate Erbland of IndieWire wrote: “The power and majesty of White Fang, a truly wonderful protagonist … makes a journey worth taking.”The Hater (2020)
An ambitious young man starts working in the shadowy sphere of social media smear tactics.
Movie critic Ola Salwa wrote in Cineuropa: “The Hater is a thrilling tale of an anti-hero and of the survival of the fittest, which in this case means those who have a strong and agile thumb and index finger.”
© Naima Film, dFlights, TVN The Hater finds a young man working in the shadowy sphere of social media Naima Film, dFlights, TVN The Angry Birds Movie 2 (2019)
The birds and green pigs take their feud to the next level when the leader of Eagle Island attacks.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Like its non-aerodynamic title characters, The Angry Birds Movie 2 takes improbable yet delightfully entertaining flight, landing humorous hits along the way.”Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
A failed rescue attempt strands Alex the lion and his friends in Africa.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critical consensus states: “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an improvement on the original, with more fleshed-out characters, crisper animation and more consistent humor.”
© Dreamworks Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa finds Alex the lion and his companions on the continent Dreamworks
Annecy Announces 19 Animated Features In Competition
As it confirms that it is forging ahead with a hybrid event, Annecy Festival has unveiled the features in competition for its 2021 edition.
The festival has chosen 19 features: ten in the main competition, nine in the Contrechamp category (which is reserved for more indie and offbeat fare). At least one of these films was supposed to play at last year’s festival, which was held entirely online, but saw its production delayed by the pandemic.
Japan once again has a strong presence, with three films in the running, including the latest from major studios Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) and Studio 4°C (Children of the Sea). Canada is the only other country with three features, among them Felix Dufour-Laperrière’s experimental work Archipelago.
Asia is the best-represented continent, with eight films in all: South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan each have one, China two (one of which is a co-production with Germany). North America has four — a big rise from last year’s zero.
Not well represented in this line-up: women directors. Only two of the nineteen features are directed by women. Annecy organizers point out to us that they believe the situation will change at future editions with more films by women moving into production nowadays. The fact that only 11% of the feature selections are directed by women stands in stark comparison to Annecy’s other competitive categories, where women are better represented this year: short films (43% women directors), student (60%), tv (27%), and commissioned films (38%).
Last year, for rights reasons, many of the more high-profile features could not be watched in full on the virtual platform. It remains to be confirmed which of the below will be available to online participants.
Read on for the full selection, alongside comments from Annecy’s artistic director Marcel Jean. Titles we have previously covered are hyperlinked.Official competitionThe Ape Star — Linda Hambäck (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
“A film that follows the grand tradition of cinema for young audiences, from the north of Europe.”Snotty Boy — Marcus Rosenmüller, Santiago Lopez Jover (Germany, Austria)
“A pleasant surprise for this first animation feature produced in the Austrian vernacular; a funny movie that takes a biting look at reality.”You Animal! The Nimfa Dimaano Story — Avid Liongoren (Philippines)
“One of the selection’s special surprises. A fun and funny film tackling adult topics, with complex characters and a scathing depiction of social differences.”Poupelle of Chimney Town — Yusuke Hirota (Japan)
“An absolutely astonishing, profoundly original futuristic work coming to us from Studio 4°C.”Jiang Ziya: The Legend of Deification — Wei Li, Teng Cheng (China)
“A spectacular action and adventure work, another lush example of the artistic ambitions and high technical feats of Chinese animation.”The Deer King — Masashi Ando, Masayuki Miyaji (Japan)
“Production I.G studio’s most recent production, a film impatiently awaited by animation fans. This is a complex, expansive and ambitious work. Among others, Masashi Ando is known for having worked alongside Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon.”Flee — Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden)
“A highly anticipated feature film coming to us after its incredible success early this year at Sundance.”Lamya’s Poem — Alex Kronemer (Canada, U.S.)
“A movie which belongs to the introductory geopolitical sphere, quite present in animation cinema the recent years with such films as The Breadwinner. Lamya’s Poem is the first animation feature directed by Alex Kronemer, already the scriptwriter of Bilal: A New Breed of Heroes, selected out of competition at Annecy 2015.”Josée, The Tiger and the Fish — Kotaro Tamura (Japan)
“A juicy rom-com produced by Bones that holds pride of place at the festival’s opening session.”My Sunny Maad — Michaela Pavlatova (Czech Republic, France)
“My Sunny Maad from Michaela Pavlatova is the first feature film froma director who won the Cristal for short film in 2012. It is a touching story, full of nuance and subtlety about the experience of a Western woman living in Afghanistan. Definitely one of the most anticipated films of the year!”ContrechampMount Fuji Seen from a Moving Train — Pierre Hébert (Canada)
“A living legend in film-stock engraving and animated explorations combining documentary and multi-disciplinary experimentations, Pierre Hébert has gifted us today with a major work inspired by pioneer Robert Breer.”Archipelago — Félix Dufour-Laperrière (Canada)
“This film signals the return of a filmmaker with a strong artistic touch, just two years after treating us to Ville Neuve, also competing in the Contrechamp section. What we have here is a visually sumptuous essay, reminiscent of the spirit of Chris Marker.”Cryptozoo — Dash Shaw (U.S.)
“Cryptozoo comes to us following rave reviews at Berlin and Sundance. This feature film spins its magic between poetry, science-fiction and political philosophy. With it, Dash Shaw has shown himself to be a rightful heir to René Laloux.”Chicken of the Mound — Xi Chen (Germany, China)
“This movie will astound many! The director entices us into a world thronging with robots, a mix between David OReilly and The Matrix.“Climbing — Hye-mi Kim (South Korea)
“Climbing follows a female character obsessed with mountain climbing and performance, forced to face her own personal demons. Here is a film that flickers between intrigue, mystery and nightmare.”Absolute Denial — Ryan Braund (U.K.)
“A one-man work that once again describes how an artificial intelligence can overtake its creator.”Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People — Cesar Cabral (Brazil)
“This film was to have been part of the Annecy 2020 selection. Unfortunately, this stop-motion documentary dedicated to the famous artist Angeli could not be completed on time due to the pandemic. We are so very happy to be able to present it to you this year.”My Uncle José — Ducca Rios (Brazil)
“A political and historical work made for young viewers. A beautiful example of the creativity that has courageously survived in Brazilian animation through these very tough times.”City of Lost Thing — Chih-Yen Yee (Taiwan)
“This work entices us into a city awash with plastic bags and other discarded items. What we have here is an original piece, with a strong musical underpinning.”
Top Five Animated Movies of the 21st Century and ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’
The release of The Mitchells vs. the Machines got us thinking about the best animated movies since 2000. Rob Harvilla and Charles Holmes join Sean to talk about the medium and their favorites from the past 20 years. (0:21) Then, Sean is joined by The Mitchells vs. the Machines director Mike Rianda to talk about his movie and the five-year journey to get it to Netflix.