Top Ten Computer Animated Movies

Knicknack (1989) - one of the earliest computer generated shorts

In 1995, Pixar began the computer-generation trend in animated movies when they released Toy Story. Fifteen years later its second sequel, Toy Story 3, is in theaters. Between the first and third entries in the toy saga, hundreds of computer animated movies have been produced. Some were amazing box office titans, others were crappy straight-to-DVD releases that came packaged with children’s toys. If you’ve seen Toy Story 3 and are eager to go back through the ranks of its predecessors for some more animated fun, here are my personal top ten favorites in the computer animated movie category.

I based my choices on two things: how fun they are for both kids AND adults to watch, and how well the story manages to suck you in. Extra points were NOT awarded for being in 3-D or having famous voice actors or any of those other gimmicks.

Buy Final Fantasy on DVD

#10. Final Fantasy: Spirits Within

Released: 2001
Company: Square/Chris Lee
Voices: Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin

Loosely based on the Final Fantasy video game series, Final Fantasy: Spirits Within is a futuristic sci-fi story about scientists attempting to combat a race of phantom aliens who take up residence inside human hosts. Considering when it came out, the people are staggeringly lifelike. It’s also got a tight, enthralling story that I just have to recommend even above the clamor of hatred from video game purists. A warning, though: this movie is too scary for kids under ten or so.

Buy Toy Story 2 on DVD

#9. Toy Story 2

Released: 1999
Company: Pixar
Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

Toy Story 2 picks up from Pixar’s debut Toy Story, and, in my opinion, surpasses it in story, cleverness, and humor. The toys, who come to life when people aren’t around, have to mount a rescue mission when their leader Woody, a cowboy doll, is kidnapped by a collector. There are two words that describe why this movie is so awesome, and they are “Emperor” and “Zurg.”

Buy The Incredibles on DVD

#8. The Incredibles

Released: 2004
Company: Pixar
Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson

The Incredibles takes place in a word where superpowered heroes have been forced to cease and desist by numerous litigation suits, and is perhaps the only comic book movie to not actually be based on a comic book. Needless to say the world ends up needing saving, but instead of a brooding loner stepping into the picture, it becomes a bonding experience for a whole family of supers, which is what makes this movie so different/heartwarming. Also, very actioney, which is a huge bonus.

Buy Up on DVD

#7. Up

Released: 2009
Company: Disney/Pixar
Voices: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer

If you’re noticing a string of Pixar movies on this list, there’s a good reason: they have a knack for making compelling movies out of unlikely premises. Up, which follows an old man and a fat boy scout on a flying balloon house trip to South America, is perhaps the unlikeliest of all, but it works. This movie brings the adventurous 1940s spirit to the iPod generation, and it has the funniest talking dog I’ve ever seen. Watch it, because it’s utterly unique, but be forewarned – the beginning is quite sad… to adults.

Buy Flushed Away on DVD

#6. Flushed Away

Released: 2006
Company: Dreamworks/Aardman
Voices: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet

Dreamworks finally makes it onto the list at #6, but only because of its partnership with British animation studio Aardman. Together they turned out an absolutely hilarious pseudo-claymation tale of a pampered pet rat who gets flushed into the sewers and ends up having to save the rat city underneath London. Flushed Away gets major points for inventiveness and adventure, but my favorite aspect is how funny the French frog assassins are.

Buy Meet the Robinsons on DVD

#5. Meet the Robinsons

Released: 2007
Company: Disney
Voices: no one famous

This is the first computer animated film produced by Disney since the merger with Pixar and though it flew under the radar a bit as far as audiences were concerned, I absolutely love it. The story focuses on a little orphan inventor on a time traveling mission to find his birth family and is based on a largely plotless children’s picture book about a kid whose friend had a weird family. This movie is living proof that adaptations can improve upon their sources. What makes it even better is the unusual ending and the fact that the evil villain is a bowler hat.

Buy How to Train Your Dragon Book

#4. How to Train Your Dragon

Released: 2010
Company: Dreamworks
Voices: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler

It took Dreamworks a long time to catch up to Pixar in quality, and to do so they had to lift the story from a popular children’s novel, but catch up they have. In fact, I think 2010 may be the first year that a Dreamworks effort was better than the annual Pixar production. How to Train Your Dragon is a stunning 3-D film based around a misunderstood teen forming the first ever dragon/Viking partnership. It’s crazy actioney, funny, and willing to go places other kids’ movies won’t. That’s why I love it.

Buy Finding Nemo on DVD

#3. Finding Nemo

Released: 2003
Company: Pixar
Voices: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres

Finding Nemo has captured the hearts of pretty much everybody so it’s no surprise that it’s near the top of my list. The film follows a distraught fish father whose son has been kidnapped on the Great Barrier Reef and how the experience broadens everyone’s horizons. There are several reasons why this movie is awesome: squirt the sea turtle, the shark support group, and the selfish seagulls are my personal favorites. P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney!!

Buy Bolt on DVD

#2. Bolt

Released: 2008
Company: Disney
Voices: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus

Bolt getting #2 spot on a list of best computer animated movies of all time probably comes as a shock to most people, but those people can go make their own lists, because Bolt is amazing. It’s about TV action hero dog who doesn’t realize his powers aren’t real until he gets lost and attempts to use them to return to his beloved Penny. The girl-and-her-dog angle is one I highly approve of, and I just love Mittens, his support feline. Plus, Bolt is just so darn cute when he’s learning to be a real dog!

Buy Wall-E on DVD

#1. Wall-E

Released: 2008
Company: Disney/Pixar
Voices: computer synthesizers

Wall-E is genius, pure and simple. It takes a talented bunch of people to make a love story starring two robots who can only speak about five words apiece, but Pixar pulled it off, which is why they’re the best in the business. The story follows a garbage compacting robot who was left alone on Earth for 700 years as he is accidentally picked up by a probe from a human spaceship. Wall-E encourages kids to be environmentally friendly and eat healthy without being obnoxious. Ten million points for awesomeness and adorability.

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