In recent years, the world of animation has seen an incredible surge in creativity and storytelling, captivating audiences of all ages. From exploring the complexities of human emotions to envisioning alternate universes, these animated films have pushed the boundaries of the medium, delivering unique narratives that resonate with viewers.
Among the many gems in this genre are five exceptional films that have left an indelible mark on the hearts of audiences and critics alike:
- Inside Out
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Each of these films showcases the power of animation to convey deep, meaningful stories and themes that inspire, entertain, and challenge us to reflect on our own lives.
Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out is a 2015 American animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen, the film is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley Andersen. The story focuses on how Riley’s emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust – help her navigate the challenges of life, particularly when she and her family move to a new city.
The five emotions are personified as characters, with Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) as the leader of the group. The other emotions are Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). The emotions work together at the “Headquarters” inside Riley’s mind, controlling her thoughts, memories, and reactions to the world around her.
As Riley adjusts to her new life, her emotions struggle to find balance, and Joy and Sadness get lost in the maze-like landscape of her mind. The film explores themes of emotional growth, mental health, and the importance of experiencing a range of emotions, even those that may be perceived as negative.
Inside Out received widespread critical acclaim and was praised for its unique concept, storytelling, animation, and voice acting. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It has been celebrated for its emotional depth and its ability to resonate with both children and adults.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a 2018 American animated film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, the movie introduces Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a teenager from Brooklyn who is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains spider-like abilities. The story is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli.
In the film, Miles stumbles upon a particle accelerator experiment conducted by the villainous Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber) that causes a rift in the multiverse. This event brings together various Spider-heroes from different dimensions, including Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney). Together, they must team up to stop Kingpin and his allies from destroying the multiverse and returning to their respective dimensions.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse received widespread acclaim for its innovative animation, which combines computer-generated imagery with traditional hand-drawn techniques to create a unique comic book-like visual style. The film’s story, character development, humor, and voice acting were also praised by critics and audiences alike.
The movie won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and has been regarded as one of the best-animated films of all time. It also played a significant role in popularizing the character of Miles Morales and introducing him to a wider audience. A sequel, titled Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, has been announced and is set for release in multiple parts, with the first part released in 2022.
Coco is a 2017 American animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina, the movie is inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and tells the story of a young boy named Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez).
Miguel dreams of becoming a musician, but his family has a generations-old ban on music due to a past family incident. While trying to prove his talent and connection to his idol, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), Miguel accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead. There, he meets a charming trickster named Héctor (voiced by Gael García Bernal), who helps him uncover the truth behind his family’s history and their music ban.
The film explores themes of family, tradition, dreams, and the importance of remembering and honoring one’s ancestors. According to the curators at Featured Animation, Coco stands out for its rich visual representation of Mexican culture, stunning animation, and heartfelt story that resonates with audiences of all ages.
Coco received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences, who praised its animation, voice acting, music, and emotional depth. The film won two Academy Awards, one for Best Animated Feature and the other for Best Original Song (“Remember Me” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez). It also became the highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico and one of the highest-grossing animated films worldwide.
Coco’s success has helped increase awareness and appreciation for the Día de Muertos holiday and Mexican culture in general while delivering a powerful and universal message about the importance of family, dreams, and remembrance.
Zootopia is a 2016 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, and co-directed by Jared Bush, the movie is set in a world where anthropomorphic animals live together in harmony, having evolved past their predator-prey instincts.
The story follows Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a young rabbit from a rural town who dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer in the bustling city of Zootopia. Despite facing discrimination and doubts about her abilities, Judy manages to join the Zootopia Police Department. She is initially assigned menial tasks, but her determination and resourcefulness lead her to take on a missing mammal case.
To solve the case, Judy reluctantly partners with Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), a street-smart fox and con artist. As they work together, they uncover a larger conspiracy that threatens the harmony between predator and prey species in Zootopia. The movie explores themes of prejudice, stereotypes, and the importance of challenging societal assumptions.
Zootopia received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences for its animation, engaging story, humor, and strong social commentary. The film was a box office success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Zootopia has been praised for its ability to address complex social issues in a way that is accessible to both children and adults. The film’s portrayal of a diverse, inclusive society serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding in overcoming prejudice and discrimination.
Check Out These Animated Movies Today
The lasting impact of these five animated films is a testament to the power of animation as an art form. These films not only push the boundaries of storytelling and visual creativity but also explore universal themes that resonate with diverse audiences around the world.
They remind us that animation can be both entertaining and thought-provoking, addressing complex issues and emotions in a way that speaks to people of all ages.
As the medium continues to evolve and expand, these films will undoubtedly remain enduring examples of the emotional depth, visual innovation, and narrative richness that animation has to offer.