Whoever said that cartoons and animated films are purely childish endeavors obviously hasn't been paying attention. In the wake of inventive Studio Ghibli films (Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away), and heartwrenching Pixar releases (Toy Story 3, Up), it's safe to say that animated movies positively challenge and activate the mind the same way live-action films are supposedly made to do, if not more.
That said, we've rounded up 10 of the best animated films to catch for a memorable watch that'd sure to resonate with our 'grown up' sensibilities.
Loving Vincent (2017)
125 painters pooled together to retell the final days of Vincent Van Gogh through purely oil-painted animation. This murder mystery follows a young man who delivers Van Gogh's last letter to his hometown, and ends up investigating the events that lead to his unfortunate death.
Starring: Douglas Booth, Josh Burdeett, Holly Earl
Michael Stone carries a dilemma heavy on his shoulders that we can all relate to. In Anomalisa this old, jaded man finds himself crippled by the mundane routine workings of his uneventful, and tedious life. However, things take an unexpeted turn when he meets a stranger during a business trip.
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse
Amidst the bevy of Spiderman reboots in the past decade, Into the Spider-Verse is a breath of fresh air that introduces a welcome new perspective on the superhero's story. Unlike its live action counterparts, the film follows Miles Morales, a teenager weighed down by his father's expectations, who gains powers through a spider bite. Soon after he starts using his newfound abilities for good, he meets alternate versions of himself, later on leading to an epic race to save the multiverse. Filled with humor, and a whole lot of heart, Into the Spider-Verse imparts an important lesson that would do us all good to remember: that to truly live our lives is to take a leap of faith.
Starring: Shameik Moore, Chris Pine, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali
Frozen II (2019)
Dealing with themes of change, accountability, and death, Frozen II grew up with its audience to tell a considerably darker story six years in the making. Set three years after the original film, it reintroduces Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf, all set in their own lives in the now peaceful Arrendelle. But when ravenous elements suddenly wreak havoc in the kingdom, our four heroes journey out into unknown lands to set things right.
Starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff
The LEGO Movie
An ordinary LEGO worker is mistakenly identified to be Special. Upon being classified as a key to saving the world, he's drafted into a group tasked to save the world from the evil tyrant, Mr. Business. A touching and silly animated adventure, more than just a movie about toys, The LEGO Movie brings out the suppressed imaginative spirit in all of us.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Alison Brie
Inside Out demonstrates an emotionally exhaustive journey known by adults all too well. Set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl, the story brings the five core emotions of Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness, to the forefront as they're made to juggle the inevitable changes thrown into Riley's life.
Starring: Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, Kaitlyn Dias, Amy Poehler
Persepolis is based on the the autobigroaphical graphic novel of Marjane Satrapi. Outspoken and strong-willed, it chronicles her coming of age while in the middle of a disastrous war between Iran and Iraq.
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve
In this psychological thriller on perception, performance, and voyeurism, a former pop idol, turned actress, starts to lose her sense of reality after a row of gruesome murders start to occur around her. All while she also deals with an obsessed fan who's taken to stalking her in the wake of her career change.
Starring: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto
Grave of the Fireflies
It's not an animated movie list without a Studio Ghibli film. Remember to bring out your tissues for this one especially if you harbor a close bond with your sibling. Grave of the Fireflies demonstrates the human cost of war in the most visceral way. In the heat of a firebombing during World War II, two siblings are seperated from their parents, and struggle to survive the aftermath while wholly relying on each other.
Starring: Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutomu Tatsumi
I Lost My Body
A severed hand escapes a dissection lab and traverses the streets of Paris to find its way back to its body. As it journey's out into the unknown, it reminisces on the life it once had with a young man named Naoufel.
Starring: Dev Patel, Alia Shawkat, Geroge Wendt