SPECIAL: The 25 Greatest Computer-Animated Movies

10. RANGO (2011)

Image: Paramount Pictures

Image: Paramount Pictures

Rango references a multitude of classic Westerns, but its sharpest homage is that the entire picture re-imagines Chinatown as an animated, neo-Western starring a chameleon — played through motion-capture by Johnny Depp. As far as pure comedies go, Rango is arguably the funniest picture Depp’s made, while remaining one of the most beautifully unattractive animated movies.


9. MEGAMIND (2010)

Image: DreamWorks Animation

Image: DreamWorks Animation

The plot echoes Despicable Me, but Megamind is far superior. A cast of wonderfully game comedians (and Brad Pitt) combine with a wickedly sharp script to make Megamind not just the greatest DreamWorks Animation property to neither be nor have a sequel, but also one of the downright funniest superhero movies ever made. Kids can have their Despicable Me; adults get to have Megamind.


8. THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

So many family movies nowadays pander to children with insulting antics or overly kinetic colours, but The LEGO Movie has an effortless power behind it. The comedy is legitimately funny, the animation is simple yet detailed, and the action careens from one random moment of genius to the next. In treating its whimsy with thoughtfulness, beholding its zany unpredictability makes you feel like a kid again.


7. FROZEN (2013)

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Your level of tolerance for the Oscar-winner is inextricably tied to whether you have a child who made you listen to the soundtrack ad infinitum, but objectively speaking, Frozen is the best thing Disney has animated since The Lion King, with music, acting, writing, comedy, and animation all functioning together in peak synergy.


6. THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004)

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

Like Toy Story nearly a decade before it, The Polar Express pioneered a brand-new technology of animation that has aged poorly but with charm. Destined to be a modern Christmas classic alongside Elf and Love Actually, The Polar Express feels like a living storybook, brought to life by the same maestro behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future, and Forrest Gump.


5. TOY STORY (1995)

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The influence of Toy Story really can’t be overstated. Animation as it is today wouldn’t exist without it. What’s as impressive, though, is that Pixar’s debut feature holds up so well twenty-plus years later. Sure, the humans move really stiffly and the toys’ lips don’t always match the audio, but the comedy and the heart remains as strong today as it was two decades ago.


4. THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)

Image: Paramount Pictures

Image: Paramount Pictures

An absolutely gripping thrill ride that far too many dismissed as a mere animated romp, The Adventures of Tintin is the unofficial fifth Indiana Jones movie. Even the less ambitious action sequences are breathtaking. Using motion-capture and photorealistic animation, The Adventures of Tintin’s biggest problem is that there’s almost just not enough of it, particularly considering how flawless its action sequences and visual effects are.


3. WALL-E (2008)

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The most visually wondrous of any Pixar movie, WALL-E is art masquerading as entertainment. Between its dystopian pessimism, its dreary lack of a colour scheme, and the sheer absence of any dialogue for half of the movie, it’s possibly the biggest narrative gamble for a mainstream animated film since Fantasia. And despite the effort from such boldness, WALL-E still finds time to also become one of the most touching love stories of the last decade.


2. SHREK (2001)

Image: DreamWorks Animation

Image: DreamWorks Animation

Spawning three sequels, a spin-off movie, TV specials, and a Broadway musical, Shrek made DreamWorks Animations what it is today. What’s more, the original’s reputation is entirely and richly deserved (regardless of its spotty sequels), serving as an example of the perfect marriage of a great script, interesting characters, and brilliant actors. A decade and a half later, Shrek remains the pinnacle of the short but prolific timeline of DreamWorks Animation.


1. THE INCREDIBLES (2004)

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In the early ‘00s, superhero movies were just beginning to establish themselves as a reborn subgenre when Pixar threw their hat in the ring with their opus. The Incredibles was the first computer-animated movie to speak to adults on a whole second level, wrapping its tale of a family of superheroes inside a parable of the dangers in reliving one’s glory days. Coupled with vivid animation, memorable characters, and eye-boggling action sequences, The Incredibles remains the pinnacle of Pixar’s catalogue and the apogee of computer-animated masterpieces.


Is Disney’s latest, Moana, worthy of cracking the top 25? Check back  at The Apple Box tomorrow for my review to find out!

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