For years, critics have recklessly bashed few movies which actually don’t deserved that, and Sometimes they have penned down love letters in praise of few Gems but this doesn’t always resulted into the more audience, who should watch them. So I have prepared this list of best underrated animated movies which is diverse includes best and good animated movies, from genres like romantic, musical, Science fiction(Sci Fi), documentary animated movies.
If you are fed up with the sequels and half baked over exhausted ideas, let’s dive in this list, which has some best animated movies by pixar, disney and and other international movies particularly, french animated movies alongside other Indie animated movies.
Note:- Numbers doesn’t suggest any kind of rankings perhaps movie go back and forth in time to make this more revelant. And this list doesn’t include movies from DC animation and Anime.
1. Treasure Planet 2002
Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker
A restless teen, Jim Hawkins(Joseph Gordon) journeys across the universe as a cabin boy aboard a spaceship. He develops bonds with other crew members,especially with John Silver, the cook who is a cyborg. Later, he discovers that his trusted friend Silver is actually a scheming pirate with mutiny on his mind. He must grow and become mature enough to confront the betrayal and tackle these mutineers, he discovers a great treasure greater than his wildest imaginations.Plot/Synopsis and Voice Cast
We have started off with our list with a classic movie from Disney, maybe the best underrated movie from Disney. This proves that how Disney was willing to experiment when Pixar had just started to conquer the genre. This movie was inspired from the Scribner’s version of Treasure Island. But this time Disney formula failed and critics panned down this as a visual feast with nothing else to offer. However this critical destruction cannot be justified, perhaps there should be a middle ground for those old Disney movies which could not justify themselves as a Classic. This Sci Fi movie straight out of 18 century is an entertaining movie for all ages.
2. Ne zha 2019
Directed by Yu Yang
Another Chinese anime movie from the emerging genre of Wuxia, which involves the chinese Kung Fu legends. A major blockbuster from China it grossed more than 700 million dollars upon it’s release in 2019. I am including this movie because it’s better than most of the mainstream 3d animated movies of Hollywood. So In this way it feels underrated.
The primus after extracting spirit pearl and demon from the chaos pearl. He places a curse on the demon pearl and summons that third child of Li Zing to be born with the demon pearl. But the tragedy strikes, the pearls got misplaced and Ne zha borns with the demon pill. This young boy, who is lonely and branded as the demon, he must fight his own fate, which is already decided on his birth.
The visuals of this movie seems to surpass the Mainstream Hollywood studios likes of Pixar. It has just the right amount of humor, fantasy, emotions, dialogues and a bit more action, in the end it’s a Kung Fu movie. Perhaps for me it’s the most complete movie of 2019 with amazing characters and a great ending. A top notch experience and the family entertainment of the superior class. I am really hyped for it’s much anticipated sequel Legend of Deification:Zhiyang Jiya, has been pending for the release since the pandemic outbreak. If you haven’t not watched it yet then you know what to watch next in this weekend.
3. The Illusionist 2010
Directed by Sylvain Chomet, who also directed the Triplets of Belleville
Set in the 1950s premise where the art of Magic is dying out with emerging rockstars dominating the. Tatischeff, the illusionist(Jean-Claude Dondais) is forced to move out into some remote parts of England and Scotland, where he performs in small pubs and bars in order to survive. While performing his tricks in a small village, where electricity has just arrived. A young girl, Alice(Eilidh Rankin) falls for his illusions and believes his tricks are real magic. She decides to secretly follow a complete stranger.Plot or synopsis and Voice cast
Mentioned as the antidote to the messy Mainstream flare with a remarkable score of above 90 on Rotten tomatoes. It has the most beautiful plot a little fancy. Direction of the movie is so unique true to the 1950s and refreshing, it’s so calmly paced and ends with a heartbreaking final act. If you have knack for a slow burning, heart warming movie, then this masterpiece is the one, you have ever wanted.
4. My life as a Zucchini 2016
Directed by Claude Barras
A Swiss French stop motion animated movie originally titled Ma vie de Courgette in French (also alternatively named as My Life as a Zucchini) released in 2016.
Icare a young boy sent to an Orphanage after the death of his mother, devastated(but mostly confused) he learns to make friends with other orphans. They struggles in the vicious world of men by staying together.Plot or Synopsis
A movie driven by it’s emotions with no flashy animation, this movie is told from a child’s point of view and captures the innocence and honest nature of kids in the direst circumstances. The character design seems playful like the vibrant imagination of a child with a Tim Burton touch. This is movie based on the theme of Orphanage but it’s different from any other such movie, completely refreshing. A lovely little movie with runtime close to 1hour with some great writing complemented by some beautiful animation, it may not completely explore the nuance of the adults and great deapth of the emotions but it’s hard to resist. Opening scene of the movie was soo good and hard hitting, check it out yourself.
5. The Bread Winner 2016
Directed by Nora Towmey
It is produced by the same studio which also produced The song of the sea and Secret of the Kells, you may notice the green eyes and beautiful animation. It recieved shower of praise from critiques and it bagged so many nominations upon it’s release.
A story of Young girl Parvana who lives in a city under the Taliban influence in Afghanistan. When her father gets wrongly arrested she is forced to work, disguised as a boy for her survival in a war torn society filled with stereotypes. This movie takes off as a quest for survival, and soon reaches the heights of discovering the basic ideas of Freedom while never shying away from depicting the harsh nature of the society. The animation is visually stunning and it is so striking when it depicts few moments of joy in the world dominating by dark shades in the most beautiful way possible. Direction of the movie stands out the most of the time as narration includes telling the small tales of bravery and freedom as Parvana struggles and her imagination draws parallels of her struggle and keeps her spirit alive.
6. The Peanuts Movie 2016
Directed by Steve Martino
We all know the duo, Charlie brown and Snoopy for so long. With this movie they made their big screen debut in 2016. In this movie, Peanut falls in love for the red haired girl, he tries to impress with his friends and Snoopy. While Snoopy tackles his arch nemesis, Red Baron(the legendary Ace of Aces).
The next generation Peanut movie is told in latest CGI animation, don’t let you fool yourself by judging it as another it is pretty good. The plot of the movie is great with some interconnected storylines revealing in a simultaneous way. Jokes in the movie are funny, I laughed a lot even at the dumb joke like Leotoystore. It’s very beautiful to watch them straight out of the comic strips on the big screen. This movie is great fun for the children while their parents embarks on a nostalgic journey. For me it is the best next gen adaptation of a classic property.
7. Song of the Sea
Directed by Tom Moore, an academy awards winning director
Based on an Irish folklore, involving little Ben and his sister, who is a Selkie. Selkie are the mysterious creatures, who guides the Supernatural creatures in the afterlife. She is mute, she must find her voice so she could finally sing.
If you love watching an emotional light humored animated musical fantasy, then this is it. Infact it is more than that, Music of this movie can even make Disney films envy. I can still hear the soothing melody of the lullaby, Arahman na Farrage, while writing this short review. The animation of this movie is stunning it’s like a folk art painting exhibition displayed on the big screen. Tom Moore has seemed carved out an entire genre based on his amazing animation. Watching this movie is an act of admiration.
8. Long way north 2015
Directed by Rémi Chayé
Another French movie, orginally titled as Tout en haut du monde, a joint French Danish project set in the remote northern Russia. This list is getting more and more international.
Sasha, a young Russian aristocrat, living in the town of Saint Petersburg sets out on an adventurous journey to find her adventurer grandfather and save her family’s reputation
It’s an adventure movie, a breaking barriers movie with feminism at it’s core. Unlike any other mainstream adventure movie, it has the true spirit of an expedition based adventure movie, it smart and tension is rife and there is so much to endure and admire in this beautifully animated movie. And In the end all of this pays off with a chilly and hearty conclusion. There are so many beautiful movie in this list, I have started feeling that I am over using the word beautiful,honestly I can’t do much because they are really beautiful. It has much more emotional depth while having lesser Ds than a 3D movie.
9. Secret of the Kells
Directed by Tom Moore, a highly revered figure in animation genre.
Another movie ispired from an enchanting Irish folktale, like Song of the sea. Perhaps this is not an underrated movie by any criteria but it’s probably lesser known, the point is people must watch it.
Cellach is preparing a grand wall to defend the small alley of Kells from the barbarian Invaders. He has high hopes for Young Brendan, who has no interest in war, he secretly endures the passion for the fabled art of calligraphy. Aidan( a legendary callgrapher) arrives at the Monastery with his fable book with the most beautiful calligraphy, human eyes ever seen. Young Breden decides to help the ageing Aedan in completing the last page of the book.
It is visually stunning which is also the main theme of the movie,as we discover the beauty and art and it’s imact on the human emotions. From the starting point movie made me curious about the last page, I was wondering for the whole time how the most beautiful book would look like? Art and emotions are inseparable,it is the most strong stimuli that evokes our imagination and emotions alike, this piece of art stirrs our emotions like anything else. It’s truly a masterpiece with a great plot tells a compelling story. Don’t be misjudged it’s not entirely about animation it has other substance too like a enriched world of fantasy with lots mysterious beings, and themes like knowledge must be passed on. For me Tom Moore is the European Miyazaki, a less ambitious one or just the great Tom Moore. Maybe the reason behind this comparison is, it reminded me of Princess Mononoke. Feel free to comment if you feel the same.
10. Planet 51 2009
Directed by Jorge Blanco
When astronaut Capt. Charles “Chuck” Baker lands on Planet 51, right after his ceremonial setting the first foot on an unknown planets selfie which is most likely has no life forms. He gets the surprise of his life when he learns that it is inhabited by little green people straight out of ET or any other 1950s American movie. People or aliens of this planet have seen so many movies of planetary invasion,they so many stereotypes based on fear. Chuck must find a way to save himself if he doesn’t want to get dissected in a bed.Synopsis or Plot
I think this is truly our first underrated pick among the other critically acclaimed award winning lesser known movies. It was panned down by critics upon it’s release perhaps they had big expectations for this movie which has such an amazing concept and serves as a parody for an entire genre of 1950s.
Instead they got a kids movies with good humor and few nostalgic references for adults. It’s a movie for all ages, with an unique concept which makes you chuckle just to think about it as Humans invading Aliens parody, regarding all the bad reviews I would only say maybe it was not the smart, meatier parody they all wanted. Oh I forgot to mention it has Dwayne Johnson in the lead.
11. The Pirates! Band of Misfits 2012
Directed by Peter lord. Animated by the creators of Wallace and Gromit, in their iconic clay stop motion Animation.
The pirate captain a underdog, makes a surprise participant in the Pirate of the year Award. He must amass a great treasure in order to beat his far superior opponents. He is backed up by the most loyal subordinates or the band of Misfits and his pet parrot. He come across a scientist, Charles Dicken and discovers a big truth about his pet parrot. He has a grand plan to amass a grand treasure by participating in the Royal Society of London, which is also the most dangerous place for the pirates.Plot or Synopsis
Pirate Captain, a man with the most luxurious beard, he is humorous, silly with some confidence issues. Thankfully he doesn’t remind me of Jack Sparrow, this is the first resemblance one can make upon seeing the poster,but this is not an another Pirates of Caribbean inspired crap, perhaps it’s a more thoughtout decent parody based on a series of books. True to it’s marketing tagline laugh your booty off, it’s humor is intact and witty. It’s colorful cast and humor reminded me of One piece one of the best Anime and Manga. I would love too see a follow up based on the next books of the Series by Gideon Defoe , alas It’s highly unlikely to happen.
12. Mune: the guardian of the Moon
Directed by Alexandre Heboyan, Benoît Philippon
This list getting a lot French, a movie based on a convulated mythology.
The balance in the world was established when the guardian of the sun, roped the sun and the guardian of moon lured the moon. Since then the day and night creatures are living in the harmony. At the ceremony two new champions would be appointed as the next guardians, a small freighted fawn becomes the guardian of the moon accidentally. Necross, a corrupted ex guardian is eagerly waiting to seize this opportunity to steal back sun. The new guardian, Mune must learn his duties and save the world together with the other guardian and his friend Glim.Synopsis, plot and the voice cast
There is a good chance that you are already getting bored while I am using repetitive words like beautiful and amazing but these movie truly are beautiful (oh!again) and I am more certain about this. Animation of the movie is kind of hybrid between anime and 3d CGI, very colorful one. It reminds me of the Arron Ehasz, creator of Avatar. A complex mythology and with characters of different shades but not the really dark ones. This movie is character driven, you discover a lot about this world as our characters progresses. And the only flaw is that the characters may seem common movie typos like a underdog and a overconfident one. But I personally feel characters are relatable even when they lacks characters are relatable, even when they lacked complexity. I really enjoyed comical timing of the servants of Necross.
13. The little Prince 2015
Directed by Mark Osborne
A veteran Aviator meets a girl, tells her the story when his plane was crashed in a desert. In this dystopian cum Modern society where nobody has the time to stop and relax she is introduced to a world where she rediscover the meaning of Childhood and Human feelings. In this movie the Shakespearean final stage of men or second childhood meets the dull and almost fading first act of the men as a Child.Plot or synopsis
A French animated movie(again!) based on the famous book by the same name Antoine de Saint.
There is a very little chance that a movie on Netflix (particularly Originals) with 110 million subscribers can remain lesser known, It’s AI will flood your homepage with them if you show slight interest in the Animation category. If you haven’t watched it yet then you can go for it without a doubt.
15. The Road to El dorado 2000
Directed By Bibo Bergeron, Don Paul, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Silverman, Eric ‘Bibo’ Bergeron(soo many directors)
Two pricks Tulia(Kevin Kline) and Miguel(Kenneth) believes that they have have found their way to the fabled city of El Dorado. After there miraculous escape from the mess in which they found themselves. They arrives in the city of El dorada where the elder, declares them to be the Gods.Plot/Synopsis and Cast
Now we are back to the classics, most of the list about classic animated movies will include atleast 7 out of 10 Disney movies. But however you will be surprised to see other studios like DreamWorks animations(now in a bad shape) were also doing great. A bit schematic, and a very hilarious movie for kids with two famous comedians of that time in the lead.
16. Pocohontas 1995
Directed by Eric Goldberg, Mike Gabriel
Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) is the daughter of Algonquin chief Powhatan (Russell Means), who promises her in marriage to Kocoum, the bravest man whom she doesn’t love. When European settlers arrive, she falls for the handsome John Smith (Mel Gibson). With the enmity between their groups, any wrong step can push them on the brink of a war. The only thing strong as love can only make things better.Plot or synopsis and Voice Cast
There are many reasons to admire Disney and one of them is the strong female characters. This movie based on a real legend has the same spirit and a strong women lead who wants to sculpt her own destiny. Here History meets Disney and as a result we have a charming and politically correct interpretation movie.
17. Book of Life 2014
Directed By Jorge R. Gutierrez
On the Day of the Dead, La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten places a bet involving the fate of three people, Monolo Sanchez(Deigo Luna), Joaquin(Channing Tatum), Maria(Zoe Saldana). In a bid to save the love of his life, Manolo sacrifices himself and is transported to the Land of the Remembered, where he reunites with his dead ancestors and strives to get his life back.Plot/Synopsis and Voice cast
I can safely assume that you are already enchanted by the Pixar’s Coco 2018. If you want to dwell further into the latin culture, then how about a movie with the most stunning and unique visuals, a wooden toy like character design and with a charming Latin soundtrack. Maria as the lady in lead stand outs most to me, a modern educated lady in the patriarchal society with some dominant masculine norms. Don’t overthink it, it’s a hilarious movie with a good message for kids and adults a like. Somehow it’s less predictable than the other similar movies.
18. Waltz with Bashir 2008
Directed by Ari Folman(also the lead character)
It’s rated R(shows war horrors and atrocities)
Based on the true incidents of the 1982 Lebanon war. Ari Folman, war veteran has some faint memories of the war in bits and pieces, he tries to recollect his experiences by talking with his fellow veterans, those who can’t forget it.Plot/Synopsis and voice cast
What could be a better medium to show faint reminiscent of past, stimulating terrific war horrors. A movie reminding us the cost at which a war is fought. It’s a wild ride with director going berzerk, yet so close to reality that it intrigues us. The unique animation completely resinates with the plot and premise. If you love to watch historical documentaries, and you are comfortable with graphic violence, then this animated war documentary suits your taste.
19. I lost my Body 2019
Directed by Jeremy Claplin
Well I have not checked it out yet it’s available on Netflix. I think you may have already noticed award and features studded poster of the movie but that doesn’t necessary mean more eyeballs to watch it. The plot follows the story of a cut off hand and it’s escape from dissecting lab and it’s search for it’s lost body. Perhaps it’s the most mature movie in this list, if you love to watch simple melodramic peculiar movies this could be it.
20. Big Fish and Begonia 2016
Directed by Liang Xuan, Chun Zhang.
It’s available on Netflix. I think when everyone is in the battlefield, it will give a tough time to the Disney Plus on their own turf because it has ability to promote right local content to an international audience.
Based on an ancient Chinese legends. there is a mysterious race of beings living in an alternate world of in Sea, they can control the tide and guide the changing of the seasons. When someone turns sixteen they are allowed to visit human world by transforming into a dolphin. She has always fabled about discovering the human world, now she is sixteen, this is her chance. But she soon learns the hardh truth that this world is a dangerous place. When Chun is caught in a trap and almost gave up on her life, she gets saved by a human boy at the cost of his own life. Moved by his kindness and courage, she decides to give the boy life again, but this power comes at a pricePlot or synopsis and Voice Cast
This new recent Chinese Anime phenomena has surprised us all, they are making great movies and series ranging from adult animated series (Scissor seven (review), a good anime) to the 3D CGI ones. And this movie is so similar to an anime, it’s a movie you watch with your heart on your sleeve. This movie based on a complex mythology, has so many lively emotions and it’s breathtaking visuals(It’s so exciting that I am sharing the trailer below), it can leave you soaking wet in tears.
21. 9 2009
A French Sci Fi animated movie, Directed by Shane Acker
After an apocalyptic war between humans and machines, In a dystopian world, completely destroyed and void of human life, A ragdoll awakens in this world and it holds the key to humanity’s salvation. He shall lead the other dolls ,and together they will unfold the secrets of this enigmatic world.Plot/Synopsis
Ending this list as of now with a dystopian movie film, so this makes it more complete and diverse. It’s a character driven movie where secrets doesn’t unfold in a hurry, whereas they are part of the character development. The writtten plot makes it look more like any other dystopian movie. But this is not the case, the attention paid to the intricate small details and a whole different, I would say unique, premise where we have cyborg sack dolls and weird can robots, takes the sci fi category of animated movies to a all new level.
I have tried to prepare this list very careful by incorporating good old movies and the recent ones in way to make it more watchable by focusing on underrrated and lesser knowns equally regardless of their score on IMDB or Rotten tomatoes. French movies has carved out a special place in my heart. But that’s not it, I will be continuously updating this list, your input would be so crucial, you may follow our blog to follow this post along with other posts already posted on my blog and many more to come.
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So which entry was the most surprising,or any thing you would like to include or omit(leave out). Let’s meet in the comments section.
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Other highly recommended list 9 best stop motion animated movies of all time