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Best Animated Movies of the Decade: From ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ to ‘Into the Spider-Verse’

by | Dec 19, 2019

Animation Mentor's Best Movies of the 2010s

How to Train Your Dragon, Coco, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse all made our list!

2020 is almost upon us and in honor of the wonderful animation we enjoyed the last 10 years, we thought it would be fun to ask our staff to pick their favorite animated movies of the decade.

But here’s the thing: When you ask people in the animation industry to pick their favorite animated film, they’ll tell you that picking just one is impossible and they’ll pick ten instead. (Can you blame us? Animation is THE BEST.)

So, in mostly-chronological order, here’s a list of our staff’s favorite films from 2010-2019.

How To Train Your Dragon (2010), Tangled (2010), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Shawn Kelly, Co-Founder
For me, these three films are deadlocked in an epic struggle for the top spot. All three are triumphs of artistry and storytelling that also happen to be thrilling fun to watch. I could watch any of these every day of my life and still be in awe.

Sorry, picking just one is impossible for me. Even trying to keep it to three is…it’s just… I can’t do this! Isle of Dogs! Who’s idea was this post!? Rango! Don’t you know that I love animation? Moana! You can’t ask me to pick just one. Coco! Toy Story Threeeee! Avengers: Infinity War is basically an animated movie!

Someone take this keyboard away from me.

Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

Beau Pratt, Student Community Ambassador
Video games were a huge part of my life growing up so getting to see that world in film was magical to me. But more than that, when I was an animation student this film always kept me inspired and I would play it on loop during many late nights studying to help me remember why I wanted to animate.

Cameron Pratt, Student Community Ambassador
Wreck-it Ralph came out when Beau and I were students at AM. It was a huge inspiration and motivation to us going through the course and we would watch it night after night while working on assignments.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)

Justin Owens, Product Development Lead
There were so many great animated movies this past decade, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. The reason I picked Cloudy 2 as my highlight is from both a storytelling and animation perspective. I think the storytelling is hilarious in this film, and I just love how pushed the animation style is. I also love how they break like every animation rule you’re taught in school, and do it in such a clever and entertaining way. For example twinning: never have the hands do the exact same pose when animating, that’s a big cliche and something you’re taught to avoid. Also keep any secondary animation subtle, it shouldn’t detract from the main beat of the shot. And yet! We see these two rules being broken with the main antagonist in this film. They become defining character traits of Chester and work so well. And the timing in this film! The animation is so snappy and fun. Seriously, study this movie.

Honorable Mentions:
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse! Again the animation style just rocked in this film. It’s really great to see innovation in animation style. Storytelling was really engaging as well.

Monsters University! I love odd couple buddy comedies, and I love the Monster Inc world, so this was a win-win for me.

Zootopia! The world building was so engrossing in this film, I just wanted to study every frame. I loved the character design as well, really took me back to the classic Disney Robin Hood film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens! So much animation going on this film and I just take it for granted, it all looks so real and believable. It’s amazing the level of talent and creativity that goes into these films, and this one really brought my inner child to the forefront.

Inside Out (2015)

Holly Shaw, Operations & Accounting Manager
Loved this unique story bringing human emotions to life! An actual animated “train of thought”? A “mind dump”? This movie stands out to me because of its clever story and now I can see the inside of my mind er. . . in my mind!

Zootopia (2016)

Rachel Ito, Art and Marketing Director
This film has it all! I’m a big fan of animals, film noir, murder mysteries, political intrigue, and buddy-buddy movies. The artistry and world building is phenomenal and kudos to the whole Disney team for creating a brilliant film. I love how the film navigates mature themes, from empowering women in a male-dominated industry to learning how to relate to people without prejudice. It feels modern, relevant, and I still get inspired by this film. Judy and Nick 4ever!

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Holly Birchfield, Content Marketing Manager
I have too many favorites, so I’ll highlight one that I think deserves all the attention it received (and more). Kubo and the Two Strings is an amazing story, with captivating music, rich costuming and set design, and gorgeous animation. It caught me in Scene 1 and I don’t think I blinked for the next hour and 41 minutes.

Coco (2017)

Mars Q, Student Success Coach
Being a Latino musician, I love that this animated film is all about culture, tradition and music. The way this film captures the spirit of Dia de los Muertos really resonated with me and my family. I wish my abuelita got to see it! Looking forward to ‘Soul’…

Tim Evitt, Student Success Coach
Obviously the character animation and crowd animation were awesome, the environments they created were just crazy beautiful, and I loved how you felt as if you were there in Mexico celebrating Día de los Muertos.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Stephen Maloney, Technology Product Manager
With great power comes… a rad new style of animation that felt fun and fresh.

Into the Spider-Verse

Bobby Beck, Co-Founder and CEO
This is a no-brainer for me. When I was a kid and Spider-Man came on I would sing the song and jump from couch to couch pretending I was Spider-Man as I sang the theme song at the top of my lungs.

I’ve liked the other Spider-Man movies, but Spider-Verse was the first film that really hit the tone and feel that I remembered as a kid. Although that was much more limited, my memory fills in the details and it “seems” more like Spider-Verse to me.

As an animator and creative, I’m stoked to see such a divergent style for animation. It stepped over several boundaries in terms of race, quality, look and feel. It was a big BOLD step and it paid off. I’m thankful Sony took the risk to do so. As a result several buddies and I feel like Sony is the studio to look out for and is near the top of our list right now. It’s pretty awesome what one solid movie can do for a studio’s reputation.

Where Pixar and Disney were once always in the lead, we’re starting to see other studios take a leap forward to the top slots; i.e. Sony, Netflix and… who’s next? Be bold, be true and push animation into new realms!

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