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14 Animated Films That Were Better Than That Year's Best Picture Oscar Winner

Updated January 12, 2019 19.0k votes 2.8k voters 45.9k views14 items

List RulesVote up the animated films most deserving of an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Even though live-action films hit theaters first, it didn't take long for animated films to make their debut and give their more realistic forebears a run for their money. From the beginning, studios have consistently released Oscar-worthy animated films, despite the fact no animated movie has ever won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The top animated movies of all time stack up favorably with the best live-action films ever, but they never get the same amount of love come awards season. Up is an animated movie that makes you bawl, but that year's Oscar for Best Picture went to a movie few people saw - why is that?

Whether it's because animated films have difficulty shaking the "for kids" association or because critics just aren't paying attention to more niche animation genres, it's clear animated films have been snubbed on a few occasions. It's time to shed light on the animated films that deserved to win an Oscar for Best Picture the year they were released.

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  • Released in the midst of World War II, Mrs. Miniver is the rare film about a concurrent war. The film wanted to showcase how resilient the British were during World War II, but some of the largest battles of the war hadn't even happened yet, making the movie feel a little quaint and saccharine through today's lens.

    On the other hand, Bambi is a fantastical escape from the horrors of World War II. The movie would likely have felt like a relief during a time of such brutality, even though it still manages to deal with adult themes like the passing of a parent and the struggle to survive.

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  • The Incredibles is one of the greatest superhero films ever made. Before Marvel started dominating the box office, The Incredibles established and perfected the formula that would make the superhero film one of the most popular genres of the 2010s. It's a nigh-perfect film, full of all the humor and action we've come to expect from the genre - even though it predates the Marvel Cinematic Universe by a solid four years.

    Million Dollar Baby, by contrast, is yet another well-made boxing film in the tradition of other great boxing films like Rocky and Raging Bull. Although a female lead adds a new twist to the genre, the classic boxing film formula had been well-established long before Hilary Swank showed up. Million Dollar Baby just isn't nearly as fresh as The Incredibles.

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  • At their cores, both WALL-E and Slumdog Millionaire are love stories. They both follow plucky underdog characters who fall for someone way out of their league. The reason WALL-E is better, and more significant, though, is because of just how powerful it is; few films can use silence and some bleeps and bloops to convey such incredible emotion.

    Slumdog Millionaire is enjoyable and uplifting, but it has received its fair share of criticism. Notably, some point to the problems associated with a Western director telling a quintessentially Indian tale. WALL-E is in another class altogether. It's a story about sacrifice and love and heroism, but it's all done with robots that basically can't speak. The end sequence alone deserves an Oscar nomination for its emotional resonance, without including so much as a single coherent word.

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  • It may not seem like it on the surface, but Zootopia and Moonlight deal with surprisingly similar themes. Both films confront the issues of racism and "otherness," though Zootopia does so in a way that's infinitely more accessible and understandable, considering it's a children's film. Zootopia takes a complicated, nuanced subject and helps break it down in a way that kids can understand.

    Many of the adults watching Moonlight have already experienced institutionalized racism and homophobia, but Zootopia may help the next generation take those first, crucial steps towards understanding each other better. That's pretty powerful.

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