90 Best Computer-Animated Movies Ranked by Tomatometer
Ever since the 1995 release of Toy Story, when feature animation bounded from paper reams and into the domain of the digital, it’s been to infinity and beyond in creative storytelling. We’ve traveled the sky by house and balloon (Up), crossed dimensions with Spider-Man (Into the Spider-Verse), swam the deepest oceans (Finding Nemo) while learning the value of family along with super glue (The Lego Movie).
In these feats of imagination, Cars rule the world, superheroes and villains can turn their lives around (The Incredibles, Despicable Me), and a squirrel chasing an acorn becomes a Sisyphean myth. It’s where we can believe in fairy tales again (Frozen, Brave)…while having a good laugh at their expense (Shrek). We’ve also witnessed processed meats do some things in Sausage Party we’d rather not speak of again.
A whole industry of is supported by this medium, including the previously mentioned Pixar, Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age), Illumination (The Secret Life of Pets), and Sony Pictures Animation (Hotel Transylvania). And let’s not forget DreamWorks Animation (How to Train Your Dragon), whose latest film Trolls World Tour, which broke streaming records when it went straight to on-demand, skipping theatrical.
Wherever the story takes us from , we’ve ranked the most critically approved films of the genre in our list of the best-reviewed computer-animated movies. Each entry had to reach at least 20 reviews before we put them up for consideration, where we then ranked them by Tomatometer. So, enjoy our guide to the 90 best computer-animated movies ever made.
Critics Consensus: It's nowhere near as inventive as its off-the-wall premise might suggest, but Turbo boasts just enough colorful visual thrills and sharp voice acting to recommend as undemanding family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a speed-obsessed snail with an unusual dream: to become the world's greatest racer. This odd snail... [More]
Critics Consensus: It regurgitates plot points from earlier animated efforts, and isn't quite as funny as it should be, but a top-shelf voice cast and strong visuals help make Megamind a pleasant, if unspectacular, diversion.
Synopsis: Though he is the most-brilliant supervillain the world has known, Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the least-successful. Thwarted time and again... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Good Dinosaur delivers thrillingly beautiful animation in service of a worthy story that, even if it doesn't quite live up to the lofty standards set by Pixar, still adds up to charming, family-friendly entertainment.
Synopsis: Luckily for young Arlo, his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand) and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped... [More]
Critics Consensus:Surf's Up is a laid back, visually stunning animated movie that brings a fresh twist to some familiar conventions. Its witty mockumentary format is fun and inventive, and the CGI is breathtakingly realistic.
Synopsis: Surfing means everything to teenage penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf). Followed by a documentary film crew, he leaves his home... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members.
Synopsis: George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When... [More]
Critics Consensus:Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel's narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he's going to... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Peanuts Movie offers a colorful gateway into the world of its classic characters and a sweetly nostalgic -- if relatively unambitious -- treat for the adults who grew up with them.
Synopsis: Life always seems complicated for good ol' Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), the boy who always tries his best against seemingly... [More]
Critics Consensus: While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.
Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a far away swamp, there lived an ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) whose precious solitude... [More]
Critics Consensus: It may suffer in comparison to Pixar's classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio's formula -- and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure.
Synopsis: Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio's increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.
Synopsis: Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty... [More]
Critics Consensus: The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that's as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation -- all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.
Synopsis: From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live... [More]
Critics Consensus: The rare sequel that arguably improves on its predecessor, Toy Story 2 uses inventive storytelling, gorgeous animation, and a talented cast to deliver another rich moviegoing experience for all ages.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), leaving Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen)... [More]
Fox’s got a new Ice Ageand it’s set on collision course for theaters this Friday. Animation at the studio has weaved a winding line through Saturday morning cartoons, adult fare, and studio closures before lifting Fox as one of Hollywood’s major animated players decades later, alongside Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks. In this week’s gallery, we look at 24 films and TV shows highlighting the history of Fox Animation.
It’s The Wizard of Oz, so you know of the deathly horrors that await: the Wicked Witch of the West, that dark ominous corridor, those flying monkeys. I’m a grown woman and I’m still afraid of the flying monkeys, so I can only imagine how much more terrifying they’d be in 3-D on that giant IMAX screen. I’d pondered taking my son, who’s almost 4, to see it over the weekend but was advised by three different moms (two of whom are pediatricians) that he’s still too young for such an experience. So parents, maybe wait until your kids are age 5 or 6 – and show it to them at home, first, where they can hide comfortably behind the coffee table.
Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, some thematic material and brief language.
James Gandolfini is lovely in writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s midlife romantic comedy — gentle, sweet and self-deprecating — but the fact that this was his last performance before dying of a heart attack this summer makes it that much more poignant. Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-star as a couple of divorced, single parents in Los Angeles who fall for each other with some eventual complications. There’s no real nudity but we do see them in bed together, and Louis-Dreyfus shares some frank sex talk with a couple of her friends (played by Toni Collette and Catherine Keener) as well as her teenage daughter and her best friend.
Rating: PG, for mild action, some scary images and brief rude humor.
So I can only speak to the first hour so of this film, because that’s the point at which my son, who was then 3 ½, decided he was scared and wanted to leave. Apply that tidbit as you will to your own children of that age. Much of the imagery in this 3-D animated adventure is colorful and wondrous, as tiny creatures are fighting a battle of good and evil within a secret universe in the forest. The scenery can be vibrant and verdant, but when the bad guys are on screen, the skies turn dark and the surroundings become harsher. (This should come as no surprise given that Christoph Waltz voices the lead villain.) Suitable for nearly all ages.
Rating: PG-13, for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images.
One of the most graphic PG-13 movies I’ve ever seen. A pandemic sweeps the globe, turning people into convulsing, flailing, ravenous zombies within seconds. Heavy-duty gunfire, pandemonium and a general obliteration of civilized society as we know it ensues. And only Brad Pitt, as a former investigator for the United Nations, can stop the madness. This is an incredibly stressful film to watch. But the imagery may look familiar, and perhaps not all that frightening, for pre-teens who’ve played a lot of first-person-shooter video games.
Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content and partial nudity.
There is a healthy amount of naked Alexander Skarsgard in this movie. Not that anyone’s complaining, but FYI, it exists. Actually, this thriller features quite a few creepy, sexualized rituals as an undercover corporate agent (Brit Marling) infiltrates a cult of eco-activist anarchists. Some disturbing imagery appears at the film’s start — birds and sea life that have been the victims of massive oil spills, for example — followed by violent acts scattered throughout as this underground group gets its theatrical revenge.
Rating: PG-13, for some violence and sexual references.
The classic piece of Chicano literature that inspired this film also has inspired some serious controversy since its publication in 1972. Some church groups and parents have decried Rudolfo Anaya’s novel as anti-Catholic or too profane and pushed to have it banned from school districts across the country. The film itself, though, is a mostly gentle and tastefully photographed depiction of a young boy’s coming of age in rural 1940s New Mexico. His maturation includes a questioning of the Catholic faith of his parents and a curiosity about the Native American mysticism of his elders. But such musings feel more like an inherent part of the progression into adolescence than an intentionally subversive force.
This week in streaming video, we’ve got the successful follow-up to a major franchise reboot, an Oscar-winning drama, an animated adventure, and a based-on-true-events thriller. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.
This week on home video, we’ve got an interesting mix of critical darlings and big name duds, but the biggest release is an animated fantasy adventure that fits somewhere in the middle. Following that, we’ve got an Oscar-winning drama, a thriller from another Oscar-winning director, a bad spoof comedy, and an underwhelming clash between two iconic actors. Read on for the full list:
If the story in Blue Sky Studios’ Epic feels a little familiar, it’s probably because it’s kind of a reverse Ferngully (that probably deserves an UrbanDictionary entry), at least in the sense that it’s a girl — not a boy — who shrinks down to bug size and discovers a magical world ripe for a green-friendly message. Amanda Seyfried voices M.K., who is introduced to the miniature world of the Leafmen and the Boggans when the queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) is attacked and, before dying, shrinks M.K. and entrusts her with the security of her chosen heir. As Boggan leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) continues his assault, M.K. must unite with the Leafmen to protect the pod that will hatch the new forest queen. Directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots), Epic features a voice cast that is as talented as it is eclectic in its composition, with roles played by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Hutcherson, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, and yes, Steven Tyler as a wise glowworm. Critics agreed that Epic‘s themes covered fairly familiar territory, but at 66%, it’s still animated beautifully and entertaining enough to be enjoyable.
Chances are, if this film hadn’t been nominated for several top Academy Awards, one of which — Best Foreign Language Film — it won, most folks wouldn’t even know it existed. Internationally acclaimed Austrian director Michael Haneke helmed this heartbreaking French language film about an octogenarian retiree named Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and his wife Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who suffers through a stroke and a botched surgery that leaves her paralyzed. As Anne’s condition worsens, Georges begins to feel the strain of taking care of her, and he is forced into a difficult decision. Amour won praise across the board for its impressive performances and for its bold, honest script, which was also penned by Haneke. Emmanuelle Riva was recognized with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Haneke earned nominations for both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and the film also earned a spot on the Best Picture list. Certified Fresh at 94%, Amour is a powerful exploration of love and commitment in the face of tragedy.
Robert De Niro and John Travolta have both seen their share of flops in recent years (we covered The Big Wedding just last week, for example), but in Killing Season, the two legendary actors come together for the first time with spectacularly disappointing results. Travolta plays a former Serbian soldier named Emil Kovac tasked with tracking down American veteran Benjamin Ford (De Niro) who’s since become a recluse living in the Appalachians. Assuming the guise of a wandering hunter, Kovac befriends Ford, then reveals his true intentions when the two embark on a hunt together. The most common criticisms leveled against the film were that the dialogue was stilted, the action unnecessarily graphic, and the acting uneven, particularly with respect to Travolta’s hammy accent. Considering the caliber of actors involved, Killing Season could have and should have much more impressive than its 11% Tomatometer score would indicate.
Critics didn’t love the Wayans brothers’ 2000 spoof Scary Movie, but it certainly has its defenders; it did what it set out to do, and it made a lot of money, which basically guaranteed at least one sequel. Who knew it would make it to five? Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother) jumped behind the camera for Scary Movie 5 (aka Scary MoVie), which stars Ashley Tisdale and Simon Rex in a story that loosely resembles Mama: a young couple are put in charge of three feral children found in a cabin in the woods; when the children are brought home, an evil spirit follows, and spoofs of Black Swan, Inception, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Evil Dead, and more ensue. Look, this movie earned a 4% from the critics, who found it juvenile even for Scary Movie standards, but if this is what tickles your funny bone, more power to you.
Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) headlines this thriller from James Marsh, the man probably best known for his Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, but who’s proven he can handle genre material with the second installment of the Red Riding trilogy. Set in Ireland, Shadow Dancer focuses on Collette McVeigh (Riseborough), the lone daughter in a family of IRA members, who is arrested and subsequently compelled to spy on her family in lieu of a harsh prison sentence. With the welfare of her son in mind, Collette reluctantly agrees, but things come to a head when the authorities raid her brothers’ operation. Certified Fresh at 82%, Shadow Dancer is another winner for Marsh, bolstered by taut direction and a strong performance from Riseborough. Its theatrical run was short-lived in the US, but you can catch this solid thriller on home video this week.
Also available this week:
Rapture-Palooza (24%), starring Anna Kendrick and Craig Robinson in a comedy about a girl fighting to defeat the Anti-Christ in a post-Rapture world.
While most movie franchises find themselves running on fumes after one or two sequels, the Fast & Furious movies have improved as they’ve gone along. Critics say Fast & Furious 6 shows the series still has plenty left in the proverbial tank — its absurd plot is merely an excuse to stage (even more) deliriously exciting chases, stunts, and crashes. This time out, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his merry band of thieves postpone retirement when government agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) asks for their help in taking down a vicious criminal gang that counts old friend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) among its members. The pundits say the Certified FreshFast & Furious 6 is as gleefully preposterous as previous installments, and if you’re in the mood for exhilarating, supercharged action set-pieces, you’ve come to the right place. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of the cars of Fast & Furious.)
The Hangover Part II was mostly content to recycle its predecessor, so switching things up for the second sequel was probably a good idea. Unfortunately, critics say The Hangover Part III is so joke-free that it barely qualifies as a comedy, and while the stars make for good company as usual, the energy level isn’t particularly high. Phil and Stu (Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) decide to get their out-of-control buddy Alan (Zach Galifianakis) into rehab, but their plan is foiled when a mobster (John Goodman) forces the Wolfpack to track down their old frenemy Chow (Ken Jeong). The pundits say The Hangover Part III is substantially darker than the previous installments, and it lacks the go-for-broke exuberance that made the original a massive hit. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a countdown of Cooper’s best-reviewed movies, as well as our interviews with the stars.)
Given the advances in CGI, it takes more than pretty pictures to make an animated feature worthwhile. Still, critics say Epic is so visually stunning and briskly-paced that it (mostly) overcomes its generic storytelling. While looking for her missing father in a forest, a teenage girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) stumbles across fantastical creatures and finds herself in the midst of a battle between good and evil. The pundits say say Epic‘s plot will seem familiar even to small children, but it’s a beautifully animated fantasy with an inspired vocal cast.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Nancy, Please, a thriller about a grad student who runs afoul of his malevolent former roommate when he tries to retrieve a treasured book from her, is at 100 percent.
Two of this week’s major releases (Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III) skew toward an older crowd, but there’s still a little something in multiplexes for the whole family: Epic, a fantasy adventure with voice work from Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, and Beyonce Knowles. Read on to find out more.
What’s it about? While looking for her missing father in a forest, a teenage girl stumbles across fantastical creatures and finds herself in the midst of a battle between good and evil.
Who’s it for? It’s rated PG for “mild action, some scary images and brief rude language.” A parent is separated from his child, and some of the tiny magical characters might spook younger children, but it’s probably safe for ages eight and up.
Is it any good? Critics say Epic‘s plot will seem familiar even to children, but it’s an exciting, beautifully animated fantasy that’s witty and often inspired.
What’s it about? Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is instantly smitten by Lena (Alice Englert), who’s just moved to his small southern town. But their budding love affair is endangered by Lena’s supernatural powers.
Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “violence, scary images, and some sexual material.” Beautiful Creatures isn’t super racy or intense; in fact, the bigger concern is that it will make teens go all swoony.
Is it any good? Critics say the cast is likable, but the plot is predictable, and the whole thing plays like a (slightly) smarter, Dixie-fied version of Twilight.