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Top 10 Beautiful Animated Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Sometimes the most stunning images are man made. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 most beautiful animated films. For this list, we’ve included the most breathtaking, memorable and visually stunning movies that were created using all methods of animation, from traditional to computer animated. Special thanks to our users jkellis, Liam Murphy, llevronbelac, manuelalanis99, haydencb, Victory Rocca, Joe Greenwell and evandardis for submitting the idea on our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Tiffany Ezuma

Top 10 Beautiful Animated Movies


Sometimes the most stunning images are manmade. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most beautiful animated films.

For this list, we’ve included the most breathtaking, memorable and visually stunning movies that were created using all methods of animation, from traditional to computer animated.

#10: “Paprika” (2006)

Based on a novel of the same name, this film tells the story of a therapist who helps patients by interacting with their dreams. The storyline of the movie grows ever more complex as the patients’ dreams are discovered. But the visuals never fail to impress as the bright colors of the dream world contrast with the more muted tones of the real world. It was director Satoshi Kon’s final film before his death, and it lives up to his legacy and then some as a visually striking masterpiece of animation.

#9: “Treasure Planet” (2002)

Though it was critically praised, this was a big flop for Disney, only making back $109-million of its $140-million dollar budget. And looking back, a movie this beautiful deserves a bigger audience. To create the images, animators combined 2D and 3D animation to great effect. The set designers decided that the overall look of the film should be based 70% in reality, with the other 30% having a sci-fi feel. And with this rule in mind, they succeeded in creating an animation classic with a storybook feel.

#8: “Waltz with Bashir” (2008)

This movie is a pretty unique endeavor, given that it combines the genres of animation and documentary. Utilizing dark tones to capture the feelings of the soldier it chronicles, “Waltz with Bashir” uses a number of techniques to get its distinctive look and feel. To create these visuals which resemble rotoscoping, animators used a technique in which they combined Adobe Flash cutouts and traditional animation. It took four years to make but the effort paid off and it won numerous awards for its matchless treatment of a difficult subject.

#7: “Finding Nemo” (2003)

This Pixar creation is regarded as one of the best animated features ever, and it’s easy to see why. The colors are so vibrant, creating an underwater world that viewers want to be a part of. During production, the animators even took biology and oceanography classes to make sure they captured the correct movements of the different fish. Combine that attention to detail with lovable characters and a heartwarming story, and you’ve got a box-office smash that also took home that year’s Oscar for Best Animated Film.

#6: “The Thief and the Cobbler” (1993)

A labor of love that ultimately took 28-years to reach completion, this film was originally planned as a magnum opus for animator Richard Williams, and a breakthrough film in the genre. Unfortunately, funding problems and his overzealous plans caused it to switch hands many times, and ultimately the finished product was a box-office failure. However, where it did not fail was in its animation; those scenes created by Williams were indeed the groundbreaking pieces of animation he’d intended, with many aspects of traditional art brought to life with 2D animation.

#5: “WALL-E” (2008)

It may tell the simple tale of a robot looking for love in outer space; it may also touch on societal issues like environmental problems and humanity’s effect on Earth. But it’s the visuals that are this film’s most striking element. After all, without recognizable human voices, the creators largely relied on the visuals to tell the story. To ensure the robots’ body language properly conveyed emotion, the Pixar team watched a different silent film each day for a year to learn just how to get the expressions and movements just right.

#4: “Akira” (1988)

Set in dystopian Tokyo, the movie follows the adventures of teenage biker with psychic powers. The film’s animation style was groundbreaking in the anime world, as it featured characters with fully functioning faces. Previously, most anime characters only had a moving mouth, while their faces remained still. The backdrop of Tokyo is expertly done also, and each image blends perfectly into the next. Based on a widely popular manga, it quickly became a cult classic that’s considered a revolutionary and visually striking piece of animation the world over.

#3: “Up” (2009)

Pixar outdoes itself with each new project, and “Up” is a testament to that. With heart and humor, it tells the story of a man who attempts to fulfill his recently deceased wife’s lifelong wish to travel to Paradise Falls. The colors and caricaturized style of the characters make it a joy to watch. As the first Disney/Pixar film to be presented using Disney Digital 3-D, “Up” made history for being the second animated feature to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, after 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

#2: “Fantasia” (1940)

Due to Mickey Mouse’s decreasing popularity, Walt Disney released this film as the production house’s third animated feature as a way to boost his profile. Comprised of eight different cartoon shorts set to classical music, “Fantasia” was considered a flop at its release; but over time it has gotten the credit it deserves. For many of the shorts, Disney’s team carefully studied the movement of athletes and dancers to capture the correct rhythms needed. With sometimes abstract, sometimes literal animation that’s perfectly paired with the orchestral music, it’s a striking feat for Disney.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “The Lion King” (1994)
- “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)
- “Persepolis” (2007)
- “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
- “Alice in Wonderland” (1951)

#1: “Spirited Away” (2001)

All of Hayao Miyazaki’s could fill a list of the most beautiful animated movies, most notably “Princess Mononoke” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” But “Spirited Away” is his masterpiece. Most of the film was hand-drawn by Miyazaki and his team, but he did use some computer animation to add to the visuals. Though imaginative and dazzling, Miyazaki ensures to draw a line between the real world and the spirit world, with the images providing contrast. Japan’s highest-grossing film ever and the Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature, “Spirited Away” is just beautiful.

Do you agree with our list? Which animated feature do you think is work of art? For more beautiful Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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