10. ANTZ (1998)
Much as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will always hold a soft spot for Disney fans, Antz will always get to lay claim to being the first movie from DreamWorks Animation (even if it was still DWA’s second-best movie of 1998). Self-aware and freewheeling before it was commonplace in animation, Antz helped lay the groundwork for everything from Shrek to The LEGO Movie.
9. KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011)
A sequel nearly the original’s equal, Kung Fu Panda 2 took the story of legendary fighters Po and the Furious Five in a much darker and more emotional direction than its light-hearted predecessor. Gary Oldman chewed his villainous dialogue with the most relish since Jeremy Irons in The Lion King. Not only is it a great story of the search for one’s identity, it’s one of DWA’s most mature stories.
8. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010)
It’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial with dragons. Let’s be honest, that’s all How to Train Your Dragon is, when you get right down to it. But of all the movies that have aped Spielberg’s classic over the decades, How to Train Your Dragon is arguably the best. A fantastically rousing score and charming voice work by Jay Baruchel and Craig Ferguson helped make a worn-out premise feel fresh and exhilarating.
7. CHICKEN RUN (2000)
Children in the ‘90s knew Wallace & Gromit from occasional airings of the Oscar-winning short films on TV, but Claymation was untested for modern-day movies when Chicken Run arrived in 2000. With a fun performance by then-beloved Mel Gibson and a clever re-appropriation of The Great Escape’s plot (told from the point-of-view of chickens at a pot pie factory and farm), it helped show that the popularity of Henry Selick’s stop-motion movies wasn’t a fluke.
6. THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)
Some of the best traditionally animated movies came in the shadows of the birth of computer animation. While many’s eyes were on Pixar’s three-dimensional cartoons, DreamWorks Animation released hand-drawn pieces of art like The Prince of Egypt. One of the most insightful and graspable tellings of the Book of Exodus, it knew it walked in large footprints, but still left memorable tracks of its own.
5. THE ROAD TO EL DORADO (2000)
One of the most naturally witty and comical screenplays of modern animation laid the foundation for The Road to El Dorado. A two-bumbling-misfits-exploring tale in the tradition of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, here Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh took the reins as two grifters who end up stumbling upon the mythical city of gold and passing themselves off as gods. The repartee between Kline and Branagh is magical, the soundtrack by Elton John is nearly The Lion King’s equal, and the movie consistently dares to be unpredictable.
4. KUNG FU PANDA (2008)
The rich premise of a panda who is revealed to be the Chosen One and clashes with his disciplined trainer and a team of legendary fighters resistant to adding the bear in a china shop to their roster lent itself to a strong storyline. The voice acting is top-notch — Dustin Hoffman especially has a blast as the distraught trainer of the titular legend — and the story found the sweet spot between saccharine and cliché where good movies can often thrive.
3. MEGAMIND (2010)
The plot echoed Despicable Me, but while that movie cared more about emotion than comedy, Megamind is one of the downright funniest superhero movies ever made. Showing how a person is the sum of their experiences — and also how a leopard can always change their spots — the talents of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt combined with a sharp script to make Megamind the greatest DreamWorks Animation property to neither be nor have gotten a sequel.
2. WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (2005)
As brilliant as the Wallace & Gromit shorts are, part of their power has always been in their brief running times; they never outstay their welcomes. The worry with their first (and, so far, only) feature-length adventure was that the bite wouldn’t survive for that long an amount of time. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit proved to be the greatest outing for the inventor-and-dog there’s been, with gags the equal of Airplane! and puns the equal of Oscar Wilde.
1. SHREK (2001)
There’s a reason the DreamWorks Animation intro is now accompanied by score music from Shrek. Spawning three sequels, a spin-off movie, TV specials, and a Broadway musical, Shrek made the company what it is today. What’s more, the original’s reputation is entirely and richly deserved. It holds up just as well today as it did in 2001 (The Matrix parodies and all) and serves as an example of the perfect marriage of a great script, interesting characters, and brilliant actors. Shrek remains ones of the greatest animated movies of the last two decades and is the pinnacle of the short but prolific timeline of DreamWorks Animation.