Animation films
Spirited away. Source: Neon Tommy

Animated films are usually great, but which are the greatest?

Animation films aren’t just for kids, you know. They’re pretty great for the whole family or you can watch them on your own for a hit of nostalgia.

In this top five list, some are childhood favourites and others target a more mature demographic. I like to keep things diverse. I must also admit that musicals piss me off (I’m a terrible human) so despite being a killer film, Lion King doesn’t crack the list. Sorry not sorry. 

5) Grave of the fireflies (1988)

Animation films
Seita and Setsuko. Source: Comandofilmes

For something a little different, this film is very dark and heartbreaking. Definitely more for adults than kids. Based in Japan during WWII, the film follows a teenage boy and his younger sister made homeless by the bombs.  A tragic tale of the human cost of war. The two kids are separated from their parents due to the bombings.

Their tale of survival is devastating because it based on reality rather than fantasy. The siblings rely completely on each other and struggle against all odds to stay together and stay alive. If you’re a crier than give this one a miss and if you’re not a crier than you will be. I’ve seen it and my tears are still drying up. One of the few movies that have ever moved me to tears. Fuck, my eyes are getting moist again!

4) Shrek (2001)

Animation films
Shrek and Donkey. Source: Shrek Wikia.

Dooooonkeh (Irish accent)! You can’t avoid the fact that Shrek literally made DreamWorks Animation a huge success. An ironic twist on the fairytale genre, this film follows the adventures of an unloveable green ogre and his partner in crime: a donkey that won’t shut up.

It’s just fucking hilarious and toes the line between sharp and crude humour. Shout out to Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers who voiced the characters of Donkey and Shrek respectively. The cinematic partnership between Shrek and Donkey is legendary. Much like Batman and Robin if Batman was an Ogre and Robin was a cowardly talking donkey.

But seriously, this animation is great for kids and adults alike. Get the fam together and enjoy.

3) Toy Story (1995)

Animation films
Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Source: BBC

This film reminds me of a simpler time. Back in the days where kids’ television was actually good!

Man I wish my toys talked when I was a kid. Who knows maybe they did. Conspiracy theory: Toy story is actually based on true events and our toys have complex lives and mock us behind our backs (shock)!

Anyway, back on topic. Remember that nostalgia I was referring to? Well this is the film I was talking about. At its core, the film tells the tale of two lost toys trying to find their way home. What makes this film one of the greatest animations of all time is the blend of childhood wonder, lush imagery and well timed humour.

Every kid loves toys so an animation film about the misadventures of toys was bound to be a success. If you are alive and were once a child after the year of 1995, then you have definitely seen this film. If you have not than I feel sorry for you.

2) Coraline (2009)

Animation films
Coraline with her other mother. Source: Kirinjirafa.

Another personal favourite. Like Spirited Away, this film contrasts different worlds; the difference is Coraline is much more basic in narrative.

There’s something about contrasting worlds that is fascinating and freaky to watch. Based on the dark fantasy children’s novella by Neil Gaiman, this animation is bed wetting material. It’s not quite for little kids… unless you want to scare the shit out of them.

Coraline is a fast paced, action packed animation, that leans towards a horror fairytale. It’s an easy watch and very entertaining. I’ve seen it multiple times and it doesn’t get old. The film is about Coraline moving house and finding a secret door that leads to an alternate world. The catch is that the other world is the exact same as the real world, only seemingly more perfect and her parents have buttons for eyes. However the illusion of the other world gets tarnished pretty quickly and shit starts to get real.

A good halloween watch for slightly older kids.

1) Spirited Away (2001)

Animation films
Spirited away. Source: Bustle.

Not only is Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away the best animation film I have ever seen, it is a fucking masterpiece. Definitely one of the best films of the 21st century and one of my all time favourites. Watching this film is like going on a journey of spiritual enlightenment.

The basic synopsis of the film is that a little girl, Chihiro, goes on an epic journey to free her parents. She gets trapped in the spirit world and has to navigate her way through by working in a bathhouse run by an overlord called Yu-baaba.

The deep layers of narrative, super creepy spirits and memorable interactions between Chihiro and creatures of the spirit world make this anime film one for the record books. Visually the film is also pretty epic. The background and creatures are full, rich and detailed, which adds to the complexity and imagination of the narrative.

I recommend sitting your ass down on a comfy chair, making some popcorn and getting lost in the fantasy world.

So there you have it!

My very own top 5 list of animation films – a very subjective and controversial topic. So do you agree with my list? What are some of your favourites that I didn’t mention?

A professional writer and actor. I enjoy watching cult classics and eating chicken. Just your average dude.