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The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Animated Movies

Updated June 14, 2019 17.4k votes 1.4k voters 11.3k views25 items

List RulesVote up the animated movies that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to Animated Films class.

Kids grew up watching animated movies and there isn't an adult or child around who couldn't tell you their all-time favorites. Whether it was made through labor-intensive cell animation, people modeling small characters out of clay, or artists using computers for modern day computer generated action, animated movies have been a big part of our lives. However, maybe you want to broaden your animation knowledge beyond the realm of films you loved as a kid. There are some animated movies everyone should watch if they want to have a solid grasp on the genre. Which of the thousands released is the best of them all? 

If you're not an animation connoisseur, the list below features some animation for beginners. Only a scant few films can be considered to be the very best of such a wide reaching, diverse field. Some of the most popular animated movies easily top the charts as the greatest movies of all time and even the illustrious Academy of Motion Pictures began giving out Oscars for the Best Animated Film each year. This list is going to limit Disney a little bit - otherwise they would dominate the whole thing. You also won't find any anime here, simply because that genre deserves a list of its own!

The cartoons on this list comprise many of the most famous animated movies ever made. Watching them is essential for any fan of film!

If you're new to the genre, you can consider this list an intro to animated movies. Here, you will find all of the must-see animated movies. Check out the films below and give your favorites a thumbs up! 

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  • Toy Story is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Animated Movies
    Video: YouTube
    Toy Story is a 1995 American computer-animated buddy-comedy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by John Lasseter, Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated film and the first theatrical film produced by Pixar. Toy Story follows a group of anthropomorphic toys who pretend to be lifeless whenever humans are present, and focuses on the relationship between Woody, a pullstring cowboy doll, and Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure. The film was written by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, and Joss Whedon, and featured music by Randy Newman. Its executive producers were Steve Jobs and Edwin... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Penn Jillette, Annie Potts
    • Released: 1995
    • Directed by: John Lasseter
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  • Finding Nemo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Animated Movies
    Video: YouTube
    Finding Nemo is a 2003 American computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, it tells the story of the overprotective clownfish named Marlin who, along with a regal tang named Dory, searches for his son Nemo all the way to Sydney Harbour. Along the way, Marlin learns to take risks and let Nemo take care of himself. The film was re-released for the first time in 3D on September 14, 2012, and it was released on Blu-ray on December 4, 2012. ... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Eric Bana, Allison Janney, Albert Brooks
    • Released: 2003
    • Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
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  • Shrek is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Animated Movies
    Video: YouTube
    Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated fantasy-comedy film produced by PDI/DreamWorks, released by DreamWorks Pictures, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow. It is loosely based on William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book Shrek!, and somewhat serves as a parody film, targeting other films adapted from numerous children's fantasies. The film made notable use of popular music; the soundtrack includes music by Smash Mouth, Eels, Joan Jett, The Proclaimers, Jason Wade, Baha Men, and John Cale. The rights to the books were originally bought by Steven Spielberg in 1991, before the founding of... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel
    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
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  • The Lion King is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Animated Movies
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical epic film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa, and was influenced by the biblical tales of Joseph and Moses and the Shakespearean play Hamlet. The film was produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. The Lion King was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn, and has a screenplay credited to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Rowan Atkinson
    • Released: 1994
    • Directed by: Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
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