The Best Animated Movies of the Decade
Fri, December 9, 2022

The Best Animated Movies of the Decade

What sets “Wall-E” apart is the ambitious undertaking in which a robo, becomes the face of the dying planet -- and the agent of its restoration. / Photo by: Arthur Caranta via Flickr


Animation has had a beautiful run in the past decade, becoming more and more enriched by the variety of new animators coming onto the scene and presenting different, ambitious works that could speak to so many people. Over the course of ten years, numerous talented animators, directors, writers, and the like have flooded pop culture with amazing works of art that were brilliant, thought-provoking, and downright stunning. 

Here are some of the most stunning and unforgettable of them. 

Spirited Away (2001)

Studio Ghibli’s reputation in the animation world is unparalleled. Their partnership with Hayao Miyazaki, director and writer of “Spirited Away” in 2001, in particular, was one that made sure that the world knew about the ability of the studio. To date, it is still “one of the most comprehensive and beautiful cinematic imaginations in existence,” describes film industry and review website IndieWire. It also widely topples the family trope genre on its head in the best way; for the most part of the movie, the family thing isn’t even mentioned, only used as a jumping-off point for the story to commence--a plot device, if you will. 

With that said, its Oscar win proves that whatever the initial intent for the story was, the endgame was that it was a brilliant piece of cinema that stands unparalleled to this day. 


To date, Spirited Away is still “one of the most comprehensive and beautiful cinematic imaginations in existence.” / Photo by: changehali via Flickr


Monster House (2006)

The clunky and jerky animation design of the 2006 “Monster House” could be a deterrent to anyone used to sleek animation offered in the latter part of the decade but it should be remembered that “Monster House” was also a film that, according to IndieWire, managed to mix the wonder an Amblin movie production might have and the creepy comedy aspect of any Tim Burton film while still being grounded in a deeply heartwarming story. 

Wall-E (2008)

What sets “Wall-E” apart is the ambitious undertaking in which a robot, of all kinds of characters to choose from, becomes the face of the dying planet -- and the agent of its restoration. According to IndieWire, at its heart, the movie is only really about “every old-school trope in the book: an unlikely hero fights to win the hand of his lady love, and in so doing saves humanity from itself.” 

It’s a challenge to make a commentary about the human experience when the actual humans in the movie are basically just throwaway characters, but Andrew Stanton managed to do that and more, despite having two main robot characters, Wall-E and EVE, who don’t communicate through human speech.  

Rango (2011)

By the time the '10s rolled around, more animators tried experimenting with more mature and surreal topics. Of course, surrealism has always been something that animation relied on, mostly because of its malleability and compatibility with the everything-is-possible quality that animation provides, but “Rango” is one of the many movies in the decade that tried to be both ambiguous and entertaining, child-friendly and mature, all at the same time. 

According to Polygon, “Rango” became such a hit (and even later won and Oscar as Best Animated Feature) because of its “subversion of Western movie tropes.” 

Your Name (2017)

By now, Studio Ghibli has already shown the world just how heartwarming and touching Japanese coming-of-age movies can be while encased in otherwise otherworldly events. In fact, it can even be argued that no one does surreal, heartwarming, coming-of-age stories like the Japanese do (see: Studio Ghibli’s entire catalogue). “Your Name” is along the same vein, a story that is both so tender and deep, a story that may look straightforward but is wrapped in many different layers of brilliant storytelling. 

How To Train Your Dragon, All Movies (2010, 2014, 2019)

All the tropes explored in the movie are tried and true and might even be cliche, but the sense of wonder you get and the way in which Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) personality shines through and plays off of his dragon are of importance. In this case, all the movies are fantastic and can even be viewed as a coming-of-age trilogy for both Hiccup and Toothless. 

According to the online entertainment news website Screen Rant, the How To Train Your Dragon movies are clever in their depicting of the Viking culture, drawing the comedy out from it effectively, and incredibly thoughtful how the whole movie stays faithful with Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship at its very core. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Finally, we have “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” truly a work of art that received so much critical acclaim when it was released -- and rightfully so. With its elegant blend of animation styles that surprisingly worked incredibly well together, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” quickly stole the hearts of fans and critics everywhere, becoming one of the most stunning animated films to come out in the decade. 

Writes Polygon, the movie entrusted itself wholly in the rich tapestry of what made animation special. It made use of rich, high-saturation environments bursting with color and took a risk with the many different styles they used to portray the many different characters -- all in a wonderful blend of seamless animation.