The Greatest Animated Films of All Time

Today is World Animation Day, and we at Wirally decided to pay a tribute to this art form – one that has revolutionized cinema for us.

The first sound and colour animated film was Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, and since then, we have made progress in leaps and bounds when it comes to animated films. While making this list, we left out popular animated films like Up, Frozen, and Wall-E.

Instead, we look at off-beat animation films that pushed the boundaries of what is capable in the field of animation. Here’s our list of the greatest animated films of all time.

If you thought animated films were just fairy tales and happy-go-lucky stories, you have no idea what you’re in for. Go through our list, and make sure you watch them – it’ll change the way you look at animated films from now on. (The list is in no particular order, but you’re free to rank them according to your taste!)


Directed by the maverick genius Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jake Skellington, the King of Halloween Town, who has a sneak peak into the other world and finds people happy and rejoicing.

To set things right, he decides to kidnap Santa Claus, and all hell breaks loose. A film that took 15 animators 3 years to complete, the film was a huge hit both financially and critically, establishing Tim Burton’s reputation as a visionary and innovator in the field of animation.


Before Disney became a powerhouse in the field of animated films, this was their first big break. While characters like Mickey Mouse had already acquired fame, Disney hadn’t set out on a truly international project.

While critics and experts termed the film a huge risk not worth taking, Disney took the plunge and released the film. It was the first animated film to witness a worldwide release, and the whole world watched with its mouth wide open as they were introduced to the giant scope of animation. There have been lots of versions of the story since, but this version in 1937 is considered a milestone in the domain of animated films. There have been lots of versions since, but this one kicked it all off for Disney

3. THE IRON GIANT (1999)

Based on the novel by the same name by Ted Hughes, The Iron Giant tells the story of a boy who finds a huge metal giant in his backyard. The boy befriends the giant and decides to protect him from the military, that wants to destroy the giant.

Directed by Brad Bird, who later made the cult hits The Incredibles and Ratatouille, the film used traditional animation techniques like computer generated imagery for the robot. While the film bombed at the Box Office, it is today considered a milestone in animation, having developed a cult following across the world.


Yet another example of a blend between live action and animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit tells the story of a rabbit who has been accused of murder and needs to clear his name.

The director of the film is the legendary Robert Zemeckis, the genius behind the Back to the Future series, and Forest Gump, among many other gems. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was pathbreaking in its time, because it was the first animated film that risked using sexual and adults references in its dialogues and imagery. While there was lot of pressure from studios to do away with this material, Robert Zemeckis stuck to his ground and saw to it that the film was released as is. It is today considered a landmark animated film.


Directed, written, animated, and produced by award-winning animator Don Hertzfeldt, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is a 62 minute long animated film that has met with critical acclaim since its release.

The entire film is narrated in stick figures, and the whole project is helmed by the one person – writer, director, animator Don Hertzfeldt. Narrating the story of a stick-figure man who is coming to terms with the meaning of life, and his own death, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is a poignant, heart-touching story that is acknowledged as avant-garde today by critics and animation experts.

6. PERSEPOLIS (2007)

Adapted from the award winning autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis tells the story of a teenage Marjane in Iran. Set during the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s, Persepolis adopts a narrative and visual style of a graphic novel, narrating the heart-wrenching story of a girl who is finding it difficult to cope with ideas of god and divinity, and her questions about religion, sexuality, puberty, and growing up in an Islamic state.


An Israeli war film that pushed the boundaries of what an animated film can reveal, this film directed by Ari Folman tells the story of a man who is trying to place his memories related to his participation in the 1982 Lebanon war.

Adopting a narrative style that is both visually stunning and heartbreaking, Waltz with Bashir presents palettes that will haunt you long after the film is over, especially the scenes with 26 dogs chasing the man through the streets. With a stirring background score by Max Richter, Waltz with Bashir is a film you absolutely shouldn’t miss.


A film that has courted controversy in India, Sita Sings The Blues is a cheeky animated film that attempts to retell the Ramayana from the eyes of Sita. Using a unique story telling format that is part psychedelic, part calendar-art, Sita Sings The Blues is a completely new retelling of the epic, which questions a lot of themes that we are afraid of questioning.

As funny as it is thought-provoking, Sita Sings The Blues also features vintage Blues songs by Annette Hanshaw, which appear throughout the film in hilarious scenes. Nina Paley, the director of the film has since faced criticism, and the film has been banned in India, thanks to protests by right wing groups that it offends their sensibilities.

9. TOY STORY (1995)

While we were trying to leave out popular Hollywood films from our list, it is simply impossible to compile a list of animated films without mentioning this gem from Pixar.

This was the first film in the Toy Story franchise, and Steve Jobs was one of the executive producers on this project. Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and legendary stand up comedian Don Rickles, the film gave the world loveable and unforgettable characters like Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Mr. Potatohead. Toy Story changed the way the world viewed animated films forever, bringing into the arena another major player in the game – Pixar – another reason for humanity to be thankful to Steve Jobs!

10. ALLADIN (1992)

Disney faced a major slump in the late 80s, and they had stopped making films altogether.

It was with Alladin that Disney decided to take a huge risk and hired big names for the cast. Before Alladin, no major Hollywood stars lent their voices for animated projects. Robin Williams was cast as The Genie, and the rest as they say, is his craziness taking over.

Playing the mad, lovable Genie, Robin Williams brought to life one of the most iconic characters to hit the screen. The film was a huge success and gave birth to a second stint of animated films. Alladin was the highest grossing film of the year, and the highest grossing animated film for a long time. Alladin started the trend of major Hollywood stars becoming a part of animated project.

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