The final list in our series of top 10 animation posts is ‘other’ – basically, anything that isn’t Disney or Pixar animation. Movies that don’t fit into either of those groups are probably the reason that we decided to split the animation category into three lists, as there are so many different and wonderful ‘other’ animated movies to choose from.
10. TIE: Rise of the Guardians (2012) / Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Clare: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was at one point probably my most watched film. My boyfriend at university got a DVD of it as so many people recommended it and he thought I would love it. He was right. The animation is stunning and despite being quite modern, it’s also timeless. I’ve never wanted to eat cartoon food more, and it became my ultimate hangover watch for a good few years. But more than the gorgeous food, it’s actually the characters and bonkers comedy that steals the show. ‘I wanted to run away that day, but you can’t run away from your own feet.’ The townspeople are hilarious, Steve the monkey steals my heart ‘GUMMI BEARS’ and Mr Lockwood is the most endearing emotionless parent I have ever seen on film. God I love this film.
Mary: Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love Christmas, so Rise of the Guardians is one I watch every year. I love the quirkiness of this film and the innocence of faith and belief keeping these guardians alive. I love seeing all these supposed made up beings come to life; the sandman, tooth fairy, Jack Frost. I like the unique idea of Santa Claus being a tough Russian. This has a great voice cast, Hugh Jackman as an Australian Easter Bunny is hilarious. I’d definitely recommend this on the run up to Christmas, there is something wonderfully magical about this film.
Lee: Rise of the Guardians is probably not the most well known and popular of these two movies. However, I think everything about it is just so strong – the story, the animation, the cast – it’s a worthy addition to the list. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on the other hand is the kind of vibrant, completely nuts kind of animation that I love.
9. Your Name (2016)
Lee: I think I was the only one of us championing Your Name when we thrashed out this list and I’m amazed, but delighted that it actually made it into our top 10. Released in 2016, Your Name probably sat on my Amazon Prime watchlist for about a year before I finally decided to give it a go. Even then, I struggled to get into it for a while and very nearly abandoned watching it completely. And then, it just grabbed me tight and drew me in. Captivating, beautifully animated, incredible storytelling, emotional drama, it all just clicked and took hold. By the time I’d reached the powerful ending, Your Name had just completely blown me away and I’m only sorry I hadn’t given it a chance sooner.
8. Coraline (2009)
Lee: It’s been a while since I watched Coraline and I remember seeing it in beautiful 3D, at a time when 3D was cool and movies actually made good use of the medium. The main thing I remember about Coraline though is just how terrifying it is! An ‘Other Mother’ who lives in a mirror world and wants to steal Coraline’s eyes to replace them with buttons? Scary stuff! Creepy, but beautiful – a wonderful fairy tale with a nice dose of horror thrown in.
Mary: The aesthetic look of this film and most things produced by Laika is so up my street, it all stems from my love of The Nightmare Before Christmas from a very very young age. I have always loved anything Gothic and dark like this (god only knows what that means). So Coraline is absolutely perfect to me, I love the look, the voice casting, the plot and its sheer strange other worldliness of it. I have always loved stop motion, this is pure artistry at work and the immense effort it takes to create just a few frames of film is absolutely amazing to me. This is the best type of children’s story it leans into being just scary enough to attract older audiences. I can’t say enough good things about this film, I watch this multiple times a year.
7. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Matt: Honestly, any animated film list would be incomplete without The Prince of Egypt. I’m delighted to see it appear here! Sadly, I think the film is still massively underrated and “underseen” so here’s a few reasons why you should watch it: a unique, breath-taking animation style, a timelessly inspiring story, a stunning Oscar-nominated Hans Zimmer score, an Oscar-winning song (and many others that were extremely worthy), and a stellar voice cast including Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, and more!
Mary: This was a favourite as a kid, I loved the songs, I thought the animation was fantastic and despite not being remotely religious there is something appealing about this type of epic bible story. I haven’t seen this film for years, it is definitely due a re-watch, I am absolutely sure it will hold up.
6. The Lego Movie (2014)
Lee: Jam packed with gags for all ages and featuring the super-catchy song “Everything is awesome”, The Lego movie was a real fun surprise when it arrived in 2014. It spawned the superior (in my opinion, and I’m kind of bitter it didn’t make this list…) Lego Batman movie and a god-awful mess of a sequel. Still a great movie though.
Clare: Not only one of my favourite animations of all time, but one of my favourite movies ever. It’s so perfect it’s hard to describe. But most of all, it gave me Unikitty. I also loved the sequel and it was in my Top 10 of 2019 and is one of my most listened to soundtracks. But sticking to the original, it’s funny, smart, cute and original which is a massive feat of storytelling. I’m never left in a bad mood after watching it.
5. Shrek (2001)
Mary: This film reminds me of secondary school, every last day of term when no lessons took place and films and games were played Shrek always always without fail was played in at least one class. I have such fond memories of it, it is endlessly quotable, all three of the main voice cast, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz are amazing, this was such a fresh animation when it was released, it was so funny and it has a great plot. I could watch this anytime and enjoy it just as much as the last 50 times I’ve seen it.
Matt: It’s the fairy-tale piss-take we didn’t know we needed! And now I couldn’t imagine cinema without it.
4. Klaus (2019)
Matt: I remember Mary telling me about this one when it was released – I’m not a major Netflix watcher, but thought I’d give it a watch for our Christmas 2019 podcast episode… It’s safe to say I was absolutely blown away and ended up ranking it as my #2 Christmas film! Not only is it visually stunning, but it puts a brand-new (and dare I say, ‘realistic’) spin on the Santa Claus story – which, let’s face it, has been done to death! Well deserved Oscar nomination too.
Mary: I watched this film three times last year in the space of a month, I always watch a huge huge amount of Christmas films in the run up to December 25th. I heard about this and just fell in love with it, I loved the uniqueness of the story, coming to it from a totally separate and different idea of a postman and the origins of what became the myth of Santa. This is a beautiful film, not only the story but the animation, it reminds me very much of a Nordic style. The look of this film is so appealing, each frame is like looking at paintings, I love this it will be on my Christmas film list from now on.
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Lee: I’d say the character of Jack Skellington is now probably as iconic as any major Disney character, with his likeness adorning more merchandise than ever before. Based on a 1982 Tim Burton poem, The Nightmare Before Christmas went through much development before eventually being released by Disney via Touchstone Pictures in 1993 (Disney thought it was too dark and scary for kids!). For me personally, Nightmare Before Christmas is essential Christmas (or Halloween) viewing, but to be honest I haven’t really watched it much at all in recent years. However, the fact that I will queue excitedly to meet Jack and Sally outside the Haunted Mansion at Disney during Halloween, or buy myself a Jack costume to wear on a separate Halloween, just goes to show just how special this movie is to me and the countless others who’ve made it the cult classic it now is.
Mary: This film is so important to me, it is part of my make-up as a person, it has informed my style and likes all my life. This came out when I was 2 years old and I think I watched it around about that age, so there is not a time when I don’t remember knowing about this film. This style of film making is incredible to watch and the aesthetic is everything I love in life quirky, dark and Gothic mixed with Christmas – all my favourite things wrapped into one. I can never make my mind up what type of film this is therefore I watch this at Halloween and Christmas. The songs are fabulous, the voice cast is brilliant and the sets, the characters, the plot, there is no part of this that is not perfect in my eyes. I look forward to the latter part of the year so much just so I can watch this again.
2. Shrek 2 (2004)
Matt: Shrek 2 is one of the very few examples of how to do a sequel well – and arguably one of the few sequels that is better than the first! Undoubtedly I think this is due in large part to the addition of genius secondary characters, and their legendary voices; Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), Jennifer Saunders (Fairy Godmother), Rupert Everett (Prince Charming), John Cleese and Julie Andrews (King Harold and Queen Lillian) absolutely steal the show, without detracting from the charm carried through from the original Shrek.
Clare: Completely agree with Matt, Shrek 2 is the ideal for when it comes to sequels and blew me away. Puss in Boots is a genius addition, but all of the new characters are brilliant. The imagery is beautiful and that soundtrack is gorgeous too. A great spin on what happens when you get your happily ever after…
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Matt: As soon as the film finished, I remember saying to myself (out loud, alone): “I have no idea how they made that”. From a story perspective I could take it or leave it, but in terms of the animation I’ve never seen anything like it before. Check out some of the ‘Making Of’ videos on YouTube and you’ll see how much care, detail and time has gone into every frame. Sensational. Easily one of the most deserved Oscar wins that year.
Mary: This film blew me away when I saw it on its last day in the cinema, I am so glad I caught it. This film is so refreshing not only in the field of animation but the Spider-Man universe as well. I never thought before I saw this that I would be able to accept any Spider-Man other than Peter Parker. But Miles Morales is such a likeable character I defy you not to warm to him and be rooting for him by the end of the film, and there is plenty of Peter Parker in here for you to enjoy too. The plot of this film is complex but just superbly thought out, to have the ability to show multiple different Spider-Mans is genius. I cannot recommend this film enough.
Mary: I have always loved animation, I have never grown out of it, I think it is a pure art form, this list is full of some of my favourite animated films, there are so many magical, funny, compelling stories here, all very different with different styles. Which just goes to show what you can do with this genre, there are no boundaries which we continue to see every year in this form.
Matt: This is definitely my favourite of the three Animated Top 10 lists that we’ve done! The vast variety of stories and styles that exist outside of Disney is clearly evident here, and in my opinion these films are all the better for pushing the boundaries of animation in the ways that they have.
Clare: This is a nice looking list. There’s a handful I haven’t seen but nothing I can argue with. I found this list tougher to organise than the other two, as it was a real balancing act of personal enjoyment vs technical accomplishment but looking at the final results, we did a good job. My only regret is that the How To Train Your Dragon franchise didn’t make it, as those flying scenes are spectacular.
Lee: Echoing what Mary and Matt have already said, this list was definitely a lot of fun to compile and just goes to highlight the incredible variety of styles that are out there in the world of animation. It’s clear that the Shrek franchise has been a strong influence on us since its arrival in 2001, but the fact that recently released movies such as Klaus, and the brilliant Into the Spider-Verse (a well deserved winner) feature so highly, just goes to show that inventive, animated storytelling is only going from strength to strength. And, surprisingly, no sign of any Studio Ghibli in our Top 10!