This article is part of our 2019 Rewind. Follow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more from 2019.
While Disney and Pixar tend to rule the box office and garner the most attention when it comes to animated movies, every year sees several gems released from all around the world. This year alone has treated us to great releases from Hungary, China, Japan, and France, but Hollywood has produced its fair share of awesome flicks as well.
Of course, the big question is what constitutes a great animated movie. For this exercise, it’s a film that features zero or very little live-action elements and looks like, well, animation. So while the latest The Lion King movie is technically animated, it looks realistic and doesn’t qualify for this list as a result. This piece will only be looking at those movies that embrace the cartoonish aspect of the medium.
With this in mind, please enjoy this list of 2019’s very best animated movies.
The Addams Family
The Addams Family began life as comic strip characters in 1938, and has been adapted for several live-action and animated movies and TV shows since then. Of course, this year’s CGI-animated reboot — courtesy of Cinesite Studios — marked the ghoulish family’s first onscreen appearance since 1998, with Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, and Nick Kroll tasked with portraying them for a new generation. In this one, the titular family moves to a new community and upset the locals because they’re different, and a journey toward acceptance ensues. The newest movie embraces the themes of individuality that’s helped make the eccentric family an enduring pop culture dynasty for over 80 years, but their return is timely in 2019, when the fear of the Other is, unfortunately, disturbingly relevant.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Being able to fully appreciate this movie requires some knowledge of the franchise as a whole. Of course, the Dragon Ball phenomenon is one of the most popular animated exports out there, and for fans of the IP, this movie delivered the goods. It’s also notable for being only the third film to feature series creator Akira Toriyama’s direct involvement and it shows. Broly is a divisive character who has had three other Dragon Ball films devoted to him in the past, but this one does a marvelous job of giving the long-serving villain a compelling backstory that makes his monstrous behavior easier to sympathize with, all the while rectifying previous unresolved storylines. This is arguably the best Dragon Ball movie to date, especially in terms of character development, emotional beats, scope, and kinetic action sequences.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The LEGO Movie was one of the best animated hits of the decade, so the sequel was always going to have some very big shoes to fill. That said, while The LEGO Movie 2 fails to reach the same awesome heights as its predecessor, the sequel has humor, heart, and creativity in abundance. The first movie took place inside a child’s imagination. For the sequel, however, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller decided to explore the concept of sibling rivalry. The end result is a hilarious, action-packed adventure that has some very touching things to say about childhood and family, with some catchy songs thrown in for good measure.
Batman hasn’t enjoyed the best of times in the current iteration of DC’s live-action universe. However, in the world of animated DTV fare, the Dark Knight is riding high. Batman: Hush, inspired by the comic book story of the same name, follows the titular crusader as he faces off against a mysterious enemy who knows all of his secrets. A rogues gallery of familiar villains also make an appearance to make the hero’s predicament a difficult one to overcome. The movie imbues the spirit of the comics, though fans of the source material might find this adaptation lacking in many departments. Hush is a difficult story to condense into 90 minutes after all. Still, if you can accept the film’s creative decisions, it’s an entertaining addition to the Batman movie canon.