This is part of our Decade Rewind, which runs throughout November. Keep up as we look back at the best, worst, and otherwise interesting movies and shows of the 2010s.
This has been a strong decade for animation. The big-hitters at Disney/Pixar dominated the mainstream with their fair share of wonderful movies, but we also saw studios like Laika continue to grow and become forces to be reckoned with. However, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is the quality of the films, and we’ve been treated to some gems from various studios, countries, and artistic visionaries in recent years.
Now that the decade is almost over, Hans Qu and myself decided to assemble the Film School Rejects team and curate a list of our favorite animated films that were released between 2010 and 2019. From accessible cultural phenomenons to some downright weird oddities, this list has something for all animation fans, and while there will be titles included here that you don’t think belong, we hope you enjoy the list all the same.
25. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Rather than follow the same formula that made the first film such a fire-breathing success, Dean Deblois’s sequel expands the scope of the storytelling, while retaining the emotionality, depth, and endearing qualities that made How to Train Your Dragon so wonderful. And considering that How to Train Your Dragon didn’t necessarily need a sequel in the first place, it’s no small feat that this movie came along and made us want to see more chapters in this story. This is The Empire Strikes Back of animated dragon movies. (Kieran Fisher)
24. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
DC makes a lot of direct-to-video animated movies, most of which don’t attract much attention. But Batman: Under The Red Hood takes on the task of adapting one of the darkest stories in the Caped Crusader’s history, and gives it the proper emotional weight, addressing some very real questions about the morality of Batman — as all the best Batman media does. Bolstered by strong voice performances and solid animation, Under The Red Hood holds its ground among its peers, despite being a smaller production and release. (Hans Qu)
23. Frozen (2013)
Even people who haven’t seen this Disney fairy tale — which follows a princess out to save a magical kingdom from eternal winter — are well aware of its existence. If you’re one of those people and you’re reading this blurb, chances are you know almost every word to “A Whole New World” because it was everywhere at one point. Maybe you hate that song at the moment, but you’ll learn to love it again. Of all the animated movies to be released this decade, Frozen became the biggest cultural phenomenon of the bunch, because none of us could resist its enchanting charms. (Kieran Fisher)
22. Teen Titans! Go to the Movies (2018)
The Deadpool flicks are renowned for their hilarious skewering of superhero tropes, but Teen Titans Go! To the Movies also deserves some praise for its ability to deconstruct crusader yarns with its own brand of sharp wit and understated intelligence. And the best part? It’s fun for the whole family. DC has been embracing its fun side with recent releases, but Teen Titans Go! To the Movies pokes fun at the studio’s doom and gloom days. It takes real brains to make movies that are this gloriously silly. (Kieran Fisher)
21. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Wreck-It Ralph was released at a time where video games were highly advanced, but it’s a movie that’s bound to tickle the sensibilities of those older audience members who used to spend their coins in arcades. Despite its sublime modern animation, the magic of Wreck-It Ralph also lies in its nostalgic qualities, and the set-pieces serve as a fond trip down memory lane. Furthermore, the story — which follows a villainous arcade game character who wants to play the hero for a change — is a gripping tale of one man’s quest to overcome his disenfranchisement. (Kieran Fisher)
20. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Following in the rich cinematic tradition of movies like Babe 2: Pig in the City and Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Shaun the Sheep Movie is a delightful tale of animals discovering what life is like in an urban environment. The ensuing romp is a lot of fun, but the film is rather bold for a mainstream children’s movie as it doesn’t contain any dialogue. That said, the visual gags are inventive and hilarious, so Aardman’s risk-taking paid off and then some. (Kieran Fisher)
19. The Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017)
Based on an illustrated novel by Tomihiko Morimi, this romantic comedy from Masaaki Yuasa follows two college students — a guy and a girl — across the course of one evening. The guy plans on coming clean about his romantic feelings for her, but a series of weird circumstances — involving alcohol, food contests, pornography, supernatural beings, you name it — keeps them separated. The plot is simple on paper, but The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a fever dream that leads viewers through a strange and surreal landscape. The animation is quite reminiscent of Ralph Bakshi, but Yuasa deserves praise for creating his own distinct style. (Kieran Fisher)