Last Updated: March 15th
It’s easy for animation buffs to get discouraged flipping through Netflix’s animated offerings, which skew heavily toward mass-produced kiddie TV programs and dire-looking CGI direct-to-video sequels. But a little digging turns up quite a few unexpected animated gems — and what Netflix’s animated offerings lack in depth, they make up for in breadth. The range of techniques and narrative approaches on display here highlights what makes the animation medium so exciting and fruitful. So here are the best animated movies on Netflix right now.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Run Time: 78 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
Here’s an over-reaching statement that we will defend until the end of time: The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the greatest animated films of our generation. The film follows a spoiled king (voiced by David Spade), who is accidentally turned into a llama and goes on the run from his evil adviser Yzma (Eartha freaking Kitt people). He’s befriended by a lovable llama herder named Pacha (John Goodman) who helps him take back his thrown. Llamas don’t get enough screen time, to be honest, and they make for hilarious heroes, but the real star of this show is Kronk (Partick Warburton), Yzma’s dim-witted, kind-hearted sidekick who can talk to squirrels and was so entertaining, he got his own spin-off.
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Our favorite superhero family is back with a new mission that requires a reversal of roles for its patriarch. Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is forced to stay home and look after the kids — including Baby Jack Jack whose powers continue to grow — while his wife Helen (Elastigirl) saves the world, becoming the new face of the superhero presence. While Elastigirl goes on covert missions aimed at restoring her family’s good name, Mr. Incredible struggles to raise the kids. There’s plenty of humor to be mined from his parental woes, especially when it comes to Jack, who eventually requires a special suit to control his abilities. Unfortunately, Elastigirl’s new employer plans to wreck the reputation of superheroes once and for all, using her family to do it, which means it’s up to the kids to save the day (again).
The Breadwinner (2017)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Based off a best-selling book by Deborah Ellis, this Angelina Jolie-produced animated drama follows the story of a young girl named Parvana, who’s forced to disguise herself as a man in order to provide for her family when her father is sent to prison by the Taliban. The film is set in war-torn Afghanistan, in a village under Taliban rule where women aren’t permitted to hold jobs or even buy food without the presence of a male relative. When Parvana’s father angers a member of the Taliban, he’s thrown in prison, and she pretends to be a man in order to earn money and food for her mother and sisters. The film is a gripping, honest look at some difficult-to-swallow issues, and it’s done in the most visually-stunning of ways.
An American Tail (1986)
Run Time: 80 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Another non-Disney offering, An American Tail is a 1986 animated musical adventure about a tiny mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz who emigrates from the Imperial Russian territory of Ukraine to New York City. His family is seeking freedom and Fievel just wants to explore the world but tragedy strikes when he’s separated from his family and forced to fend for himself on the mean streets of the city. Again, the music is stellar in this, so much so that a duet between Fievel and his older sister, Tanya, has been known to cause grown men to burst into tears. You’ve been warned.
April And The Extraordinary World (2015)
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 7.3/10
In an alternate version of 1941 where France has been led by a line of Napoleons and leading scientists mysteriously disappear, young April, her talking cat Darwin, and the shady Julius go searching for April’s missing parents. It’s an interesting take on a history where technological advancement isn’t a thing, where “steampunk” is reality and TVs and cars don’t exist. April’s journey starts in the dreary, stuck-out-of-time France but leads her to fantastical advancements that still make sense in the world we’re presented with. The heart of the film lies in the love that plucky, stubborn April has for those she cares about, and the film’s driven by charming animation and a genuinely interesting concept. It’s a fun trip that’s just out-there enough for adults while being accessible for the young and young at heart.
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 7.7/10
Dakota Fanning voices the titular young heroine of this fantasy drama about a girl who discovers a secret world much like her own. Coraline is a preteen, disappointed by her current reality, who finds the door to another world that resembles an idealized version of her own. She enjoys this alternate reality for a time before realizing this version of her life holds sinister secrets that might threaten her real family. It’s a strange, beautifully-drawn world, one that’s probably better viewed by the older-kid crowd or adults who just don’t want to grow up.
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 8.5/10
Disney continued its trend of spotlighting underserved communities and lesser-known cultures with Coco, a Pixar project that follows a young boy learning the importance of family during a traditional Mexican celebration, “Dia de Los Muertos.” The Day of the Dead is probably a holiday you’ve heard of before, but the film adds a rich history and vibrancy to a time held sacred by so many. Coco has dreams of becoming a singer but when he finds himself amongst the dead, he must rely on his courage and his ancestors to help him return to the living. Bring your tissues for this one.
My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea (2016)
Run Time: 75 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
This animated drama feels like it belongs on Adult Swim, not Netflix, but it’s a refreshing change-up from the rest of the family-centric options on this list. With a voice cast that includes Jason Schwartzman, Reggie Watts, Maya Rudolph, and Lena Dunham, the film follows a group of students whose seaside high school falls off a cliff, forcing everyone trapped inside to go into survival mode. Think Lord of the Flies but stranded at sea. Schwartzman plays Dash, a young kid forced to reconcile with his ex-best friend to save a group of students, and Susan Sarandon pops up as a lunch lady named Lorraine who displays some heroics of her own. It’s quirky and crudely-drawn, but that’s part of the charm.
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
When Pocahontas first hit theaters in 1995, it marked a turning point for Disney. For the first time, a woman of color led a Disney film and Pocahontas became the first Native American Disney princess to grace the big screen. Sure, there are some historical inaccuracies in the movie, but at its core, the film is about the strength of one woman to buck the status quo and to fight for what she believes to be right. She became the model for the Disney heroines that came after her.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.2/10
Disney excels in making movies for everyone who has ever felt “othered.” The kids (and even adults) who don’t quite feel like they fit in with their surroundings can find some form of shared experience in these stories. And Lilo & Stitch may be one of their bests. Lilo and Stitch are both “others” in their worlds: One is an orphaned girl who is seen as the “weirdo”, the other an experimental creature from space who is seen as an abomination. When they stumble into each other’s lives, they both have their own reasons for staying together, but they both find a shared peace in their respective chaos. It’s a fun movie that comes to life through the vibrant Hawaiian landscape and iconic Elvis Presley music, complete with plenty of zany sci-fi action and explosions while still able to tug on the heartstrings.
The Little Prince (2015)
Run Time: 108 min | IMDb: 7.8/10
Pulled from its theatrical release mere weeks before it was supposed to hit theaters, this adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved children’s book combines several different types of animation to mixed but ultimately winning results. One’s a charming stop-motion retelling of the original book. The other’s a more familiar Pixar-ish tale of a young girl pushed too hard to succeed who meets an aged Aviator. The film’s not entirely successful, but ambition and lovely visuals go a long way.
Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection (2008)
From the start, Disney has tried out new techniques via short films that push the boundaries of the animated medium. The Disney Short Films Collection contains some of the best recent examples of that by collecting charming, daring shorts like “Get A Horse!,” “Paperman,” and “Feast” alongside some less adventurous, but still fun, efforts like “Tangled Ever After.”
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
Mulan turned the tables on the archetype of the “Disney Princess,” with a heroine whose storyline doesn’t revolve around wooing or waiting to be wooed by a man. Unable to fit within the accepted roles of young women in China, and with a home that’s under threat, Mulan decides to disguise herself as a man and take her father’s place in the war against the Huns. She’s a strong, willful character who’s craftier than those in the male-driven world around her. Eddie Murphy’s Mushu is the perfect sidekick to bring much-needed levity to some downright bleak moments. It’s got just enough memorable songs to be a ’90s Disney movie while not breaking up the powerful story.
from UPROXX https://uproxx.com/movies/best-animated-movies-on-netflix-right-now-to-watch/