Rotten Tomatoes, the website that rates movies by comparing them to the red fruit we all love, is celebrating 25 years! It has been 25 years since Rotten Tomatoes took the concept of throwing tomatoes at bad performances and made it digital! But celebrations are a time to be happy and positive, so Rotten Tomatoes are giving us a list of the 25 best animated movies that came out during their lifetime.
The renowned rating website has made multiple lists and polls (some of which are still running, so go vote!) to celebrate their birthday, including the best movies, TV shows, directors, and more! We will review their list of the best animated movies of every year since 1998. Like a fine wine, the animation only gets better as years pass. From the rise of Pixar and Disney’s golden age to Studio Ghibli’s masterpieces, Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best 25 animated movies has it all!
25 of the Best Animated Movies (Rotten Tomatoes Version)
Okay, before you come for our throats (or Rotten Tomatoes’), choosing ONE movie for each year was HARD! Hundreds of excellent animated films came out between 1998 and 2022. If it’s up to us, we will feature every animated movie because they deserve it! But we will have to do with these masterpieces of animation for now.
1. A Bug’s Life (1998)
For the colony and for oppressed ants everywhere!
A Bug’s Life is Pixar’s second movie after the significant success of Toy Story. A Bug’s Life is an animated feature that follows a courageous ant who embarks on a journey to save his ant colony from evil grasshoppers. With a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes, A Bug’s Life proved that Pixar Studios was not a one-season wonder but an animation studio to look for.
2. Toy Story 2 (1999)
I can’t stop Andy from growing up. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
The first Toy Story might be what started the Pixar journey, but Toy Story 2 made Pixar the studio it is today. Toy Story 2 follows Buzz Lightyear as he attempts to rescue Woody from a toy collector who kidnapped him. The movie has a well-deserved 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes! It will take you on a heartwarming, emotional, exciting adventure you will never forget.
3. Chicken Run (2000)
Mrs. Tweedy! The chickens are revolting!
Chicken Run is the highest stop-motion animated feature film in history! Aardman Animations produced it in partnership with DreamWorks Animation. The charming stop-motion film follows a group of chickens trying to escape a prisoners-of-war camp-like farm. The film is beautifully animated with super exciting action sequences! With a 97% score, Chicken Run is a must-watch for general animation and stop-motion fans.
4. Spirited Away (2001)
If you completely forget… You’ll never find your way home.
We can argue that Studio Ghibli has never made a bad movie, and Spirited Away is one of its absolute best! This charming 2D animated movie tells the story of Chihiro, a small girl in the middle of a town populated by spirits and strange creatures. She agrees to work for the town’s leader to save her parents from the city. Spirited Away has a dazzling 96% score that perfectly reflects the film’s enchanting spirit.
5. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.
Lilo & Stitch was the last hurrah of Disney’s 2D animated features. A marvellous story of friendship and family that hits you right in the guts while still being charming and hilarious. Lilo is a 5-year-old girl who struggles with making friends until she meets Stitch, an alien, mind you! With an 87% score on Rotten Tomatoes (we think it deserves even more!), Lilo & Stitch is a perfect movie for a family night, especially if you want everyone to be in their feelings.
6. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
I think that’s probably it. It’s over, Grandma.
The Triplets of Belleville is a charming French animated feature film by Sylvain Chomet. The film follows Madame Souza as she goes on an adventure to rescue her grandson, Champion, after he is kidnapped. The Triplets of Belleville is a beautiful musical that has become a cult classic. It does not only have a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes but has also been nominated for two Academy Awards!
7. The Incredibles (2004)
Honey, where is my super suit?
Disney and Pixar do it again, and this time with (probably) the BEST superhero film ever made! The Incredibles is a story of a family of superheroes who, for a long time, tried to live an everyday life until they didn’t anymore. Mr and Mrs Incredible, along with their super kids, get new super suits from Edna Mode and go to save the world in this incredible movie! (pun intended). If you still need to figure it out, The Incredibles has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes!
8. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Oh, Gromit! I don’t wanna be a giant rabbit!
From the creators of Chicken Run comes the Wallace & Gromit series, another stop-motion masterpiece! The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a classic monster movie parody that follows Wallace, an inventor, and his genius dog Gromit as they try to rid their town of rabbits before the Giant Vegetable Competition. With a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an eccentric adventure with you on the edge of your seat!
9. Paprika (2006)
Paprika, is the inside of my head this messed up?
Paprika is a highly emotional and hard-to-digest movie you will never forget! It is Satochi Kon’s last fourth and last movie before he died in 2010, and just like all his work, it’s brilliant, thought-provoking, and overall magnificent. This trip into the dream world is what inspired Christopher Nolan‘s Inception. So if you liked Inception, Paprika, with its 85% score, is a must-watch for you!
10. Persepolis (2007)
Never forget who you are and where you are from.
Persepolis is an autobiographical film based on a graphic novel by the same name by Marjane Satrapi. The film tells the coming-of-age tale of Marji on the backdrop of the Iranian revolution. Persepolis is a touching tale of growing up, dealing with family, making friends, and getting into relationships, all the while being affected by the political climate of your country. The film won the Jury Prize at Cannes and was nominated for two Academy Awards. The emotional story and the unique art style earned Persepolis a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
11. Wall-E (2008)
I don’t want to survive. I want to live!
Pixar does it once more! Wall-E is arguably one of Pixar’s best films to date. Wall-E is a movie for everyone, from the gorgeous animation to the beautiful story that hits the right notes for children and adults alike. The story follows a washed-up old robot, Wall-E, who goes to unimaginable lengths to rescue his home, earth, by keeping a small plant. Wall-E is not just funny and heartwarming; it is also thought-provoking. That’s how it got its 95% Rotten Tomatoes score AND Academy Award for Best Animated Feature!
12. Up (2009)
Imagine all the wonderful things that will never happen if you do not let them.
Care for another Pixar masterpiece? Yes, please! Up is a story of embracing the child within and never giving up on the beauty of life. Using Pixar’s ever-updating visual powers Up tells the story of Carl, an older man who lost his wife, and Russell, a little kid with a big imagination. The unlikely duo go on an adventure together to discover that life can still be worth living even when we lose what we love most. With a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score, Up is among the highest-rated animated movies ever.
13. Toy Story 3 (2010)
So long, partner.
Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Toy Story 3 is the most heart-wrenching animated movie they have ever watched! With Andy almost all grown up and leaving for college, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang feel like it’s the end of life as they know it. Toy Story 3 proved that sequels can be great when they have something to say. If you’re up for some heartbreak, tears and a bunch of emotional scenes all wrapped up with comedy and love, then Toy Story 3 is for you. Its 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes captures how universally loved this film is.
14. Arthur Christmas (2011)
Operation Santa Claus is coming to town!
Every child deserves a Christmas present; in this charming movie, Arthur ensures no child is left behind! Arthur Christmas is a beautifully animated film by Sony Animation and Aardman Animations. It follows Santa Clause’s clumsy son Arthur as he embarks on an adventure to deliver a Christmas present to a girl who missed hers. This charming Christmas movie has a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes and is a film you should add to your must-watch on the Christmas list.
15. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
There is no one I’d rather be, than me!
Ever thought about how video game villains feel? Like, do they even want to be villains? Well, Wreck-It Ralph does not. Ralph hates his assigned role and just wants to be a good guy, so he takes matters into his own hands. Set in arcade games where characters get to socialise outside their games, Wreck-It Ralph is a fun movie for kids and a mine of nostalgia for adults. Its 87% score makes it the best animated movie of 2012 (sorry, Brave) and a film you should watch. Even its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, is just as charming and fun!
16. Frozen (2013)
The cold never bothered me anyways.
Disney came back in 2013 with a musical that took the world by storm! We have no idea if Disney predicted this, but no child alive today does not know Frozen (and every kid most probably loves it!). The story of Elsa and Anna is a twist on the classic Ice Queen fairytale (which is much darker). Frozen is a story of sisterly love and embracing who you are (while singing many amazing songs). Its 90% score is more than deserved because once you watch Frozen for the first time, you cannot stop singing “Let it gooooooo”!
17. The Lego Movie (2014)
Everything is awesome!
Have you ever played with Legos as a kid? If you did and enjoyed it, get ready to see your creations come to life! The Lego Movie is a witty, funny and enjoyable animated movie with lots of heart. The film follows a Lego figure who fights a greedy businessman who wants to glue the Lego world to his version of perfection. You will laugh, cry (from laughing), and want to rewatch repeatedly. That is why Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 96% score!
18. Inside Out (2015)
Take her to the moon for me. Okay?
”What if our feelings had their feelings?” This is the kind of question only Pixar would be able to answer. And answer it, they did, with their sensational movie Inside Out. Inside Out follows Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust as they operate a teenage girl’s emotional journey. The film is unsurprisingly very passionate and will leave you in tears (you’ve been warned!) but has its beautiful moments with a happy ending. Inside Out‘s 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes is well deserved and crowns it as 2016’s best animated movie!
19. Zootopia (2016)
We may be evolved… but deep down, we’re still animals.
What if animals had feelings? Yes, we know. Pixar is very much into the whole feelings thing. Zootopia is by far not the first animated movie with talking animals, but it’s safe to say it’s one of the best! In a metropolitan city where animals live in peace, a rabbit cop and a fox con artist work together to solve the mystery of the disappearing predators. Zootopia is a film full of layers—it makes you laugh and makes you ask deep questions about the world we live in and how it treats different people. Rotten Tomatoes score? 98%!
20. Coco (2017)
Never forget how much your family loves you.
Coco is inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, where families honour their past members. Miguel, a young boy who loves music despite his family’s revulsion to everything musical, decides to become a musician. After an incident with a guitar, Miguel turns invisible to living people but can be seen by his dead relatives! He takes this as a sign to pass into the land of the deceased to meet his idol (and possibly grandpa) Ernesto de la Cruz! Coco is an emotional journey of familial relationships and chasing your dreams that got a 97% score.
21. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Anyone could wear the mask. You could wear the mask.
Think you’ve had enough Spider-man movies? No, you did not, because this is the BEST Spider-man movie ever made (we may be a little biased since it’s an animated movie)! Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the story of Miles Morales and how he became Spider-Man. Into the Spider-Verse gives Miles a classic Spider-Man tale while introducing audiences to multiple other Spider-people. Why? Because everyone can be Spider-Man if they have the right motivation. A perfect movie with a nearly perfect score of 97%, Into the Spider-Verse is the best animated movie you can ever watch.
22. Toy Story 4 (2019)
Being there for a child is the most noble thing a toy can do.
You thought we were done with Toy Story? We thought so too, but Pixar had more to say! Almost ten years after the release of Toy Story 3, Pixar (possibly) concludes its perfect saga with a fourth film. Toy Story 4 sees Woody struggle to find his place with his new owner and decide where to go. The movie is just as perfect as the rest of the saga, and that’s a challenging feat to achieve! With a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s not a stretch to think that we might see Woody and Buzz again sometime in the future.
23. Wolfwalkers (2020)
Do not fear wild girls and wolves.
Wolfwalkers is a beautiful look into Irish folklore and stories. Beautifully animated with a heartwarming tale, Wolfwalkers follows a young wolf huntress as she befriends a little girl who can turn into a wolf at night. The story teaches us to let go of superstitions and only believe facts. Wolfwalkers is an independent film that surprised audiences with its masterful deception of Celtic folklore through its gorgeous art style and emotional plot. Fair to say that its 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes makes us want to watch it repeatedly.
24. Flee (2021)
What does the word “home” mean to you?
Animation is not only for children or comedy purposes. Flee is an animated documentary that follows the journey of leaving home for a safe life elsewhere. This moving story follows Amin (an alias) as he flees his home in Afghanistan to arrive in Denmark looking for refuge. The film is highly personal and received critical acclaim worldwide for portraying the refugees’ harrowing journey. Flee got a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes and is available to stream online.
25. Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (2022)
Real boys do not come back.
With Pinocchio in the public domain, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro decided to tell the story in his style. Pinocchio tells the classic tale of the wooden toy who wants to turn into a real boy but this time embraces the darker themes of the original story. The stop-motion animation style gives Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio its unique taste, making you feel like you’re watching a whole new tale and not one you’ve ever seen. Even though there were three Pinocchio adaptations in 2022 (one being a live-action from Disney), Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio took the prize and the 96% score.
And finally, we want to say Happy 25th Birthday, Rotten Tomatoes! May you always rate movies according to how fresh our favourite red fruit is!