10 Animated Movies That Prove Animation Isn’t “Just For Kids”

One of the most controversial moments at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022 occurred during the presentation for Best Animated Feature. Presented by Lily James, Naomi Scottand Halle Bailey – three actresses known for their appearances in live-action remakes of classic Disney animated films – the Best Animated Feature category was dismissed as a children’s category.

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While Disney is known for being a family business and has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature 16 times since the category was created in 2001, it’s simplistic to think that animation is “just for kids.” . Animated movies can appeal to people of all ages, as seen recently with the success of Pixar turn red depicting intergenerational trauma and exploring complex mother-daughter relationships. Animation is not a genre, but a style. It’s a way of storytelling and a cinematic art form that can be used to explore adult themes.

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” (2021)

The Mitchell family in the car from The Mitchells vs the Machines

A notable contender for Best Animated Feature at the 94th Academy Awards, The Mitchells vs. the Machines was considered one of the biggest Oscar snubs of the night, with the award going to Disney’s Encanto Instead.

In Sony Pictures Animation’s latest film, The Mitchells vs. the Machines follows the eccentric and ambitious young filmmaker Katie (Abbi Jacobson) and his dysfunctional family as they are all caught up in the robot apocalypse. Almost as if the film was directed by Katie herself, The Mitchells vs. the Machines implements what the creators call “Katie-vision” with 2D doodles and stock footage layered over CG animation. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a film about expressing your unique personality, and the creative animation style perfectly captures the heart of the film.


“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

Foxy near a tree in Fantastic Mr. Fox

Adaptation by Roald Dahl classic children’s book, Wes Anderson brings his talent for carefully selected shots and picturesque cinematography to his first venture into stop-motion animation with Fantastic Mr. Fox.

After the titular Mr. Fox (George Clooney) planning an elaborate heist to support his family, Fantastic Mr. Fox looks at what it means to be a good father and a good husband. With its robust animation style and mature themes, Anderson’s animation reveals that children can be mature just as much as adults can be childish.

“Run Away” (2021)

LGBT Representation at Flee

Making history as the first film to be nominated simultaneously for Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature at the 94th Academy Awards, To run away is a Danish animated documentary directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen follow a man under the pseudonym Amine Nawabi as he shares his hidden past and the time he fled his country, Afghanistan.

To run away is a groundbreaking animated film with its distinctive style, mature themes, and LGBT+ portrayal, it expands the very definition of what it means to be a documentary.

“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)

Brother and sister surrounded by fireflies in the dark

Studio Ghibli films are known for their whimsical aesthetic underscored by mature themes. Set during World War II, the Grave of the Fireflies is a tragic film with anti-war sentiments that follows a boy and his younger sister struggling to survive in war-torn Japan.

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With loss, destruction and death at its heart, the Grave of the Fireflies is a difficult film to watch because the children lose their mother and their home but still have hope. An eloquent and deeply depressing film, it’s a prime example of animated films’ abilities to provide mature social commentary.

“Klaus” (2019)

The postman and Klaus

Although a movie about Santa Claus might not feel like a movie made for adults, Klaus is more than it seems. Becoming one of the first animated films from a streaming service to be nominated for an Oscar, Klaus is a groundbreaking animated film for its themes and animation style.

When a postman arrives in a small Arctic village, he befriends the reclusive carpenter Klaus (JK Simmons) and employs his help to distribute toys and spread joy to the lonely townspeople. Making the most of the new technologies available, the animators behind Klaus brought his characters to life using lighting and texture to make the characters appear 3D despite being a 2D movie. painting with light, KlausThe unique animation style conveys emotion through light and shadow, achieving a feat once thought impossible in 2D animation.

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

Spider World's Spiders Collide

Considered one of the best Spider-Man movies ever made, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse revolutionized animation for Sony Pictures Animation as producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller anchored the film with a unique style.

Combining computer animation with traditional hand-drawn comic techniques, the film uses many techniques to make the most of the animated medium. By alternating the frame rate between 24 frames per second and 12 frames per second, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has a unique sense of the rhythm of his movement. As the multiverse opens up, multiple animation styles collide, bringing together Spider-Ham’s cartoonish style (John Mulaney) with Peni Parker’s anime style (Kimiko Glenn) and the black aesthetic of Spider-Noir (Nicholas Cage). With its animation innovations, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not only makes the most of his medium, but also celebrates it and recognizes the extent of its creative potential.

“Akira” (1988)

Akira's Motorbike Slide

An early entry illustrating innovations in animated cinema, the dystopian Japanese cyberpunk world of Akira was hosted by Katsuhiro Otomo in the 1988 animated film.

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Made in the 1980s before computers became the primary means of animation, every frame of Akira was drawn by hand, using a technique known as cel animation. With 24 frames per second and the film’s runtime of two hours, there are over 172,000 hand-drawn images in Akira. This painstaking process resulted in a fluid animation style that brings every detail of the film’s world to life.

“Waking Life” (2001)

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Waking Life

An experimental animated film written and directed by Richard Linklater, waking life makes the most of developments in technology by creating rotoscoped film. Rotoscoping is the process of animating on pre-recorded video footage, one frame at a time.

waking life was brought to life by numerous artists, resulting in the film’s aesthetic evolution from scene to scene and the creation of a surreal, shifting dreamscape. With his strange style, waking life uses animation to embellish action cinema by making the realistic appear unrealistic.

“Shrek” (2001)

Lord Farquaad's Castle from Shrek

While many animated films are aimed directly at children, that doesn’t stop creators from cleverly hiding adult jokes. Putting a modern spin on wholesome childhood fairy tales such as Cinderella, White as snowand Sleeping BeautyDream works’ Shrek is full of references and dirty jokes that definitely went over the kids’ heads.

Whether it’s the vulgar allusion to the name “Lord Farquaad” or that of Shrek (Mike Myers) comment on Farquaad “compensating for something” with his larger-than-life castle, Shrek is full of adult humor. ShrekThe creative spirit of imbues the film with a more mature comedy that can be savored by older viewers who need to fill in the blanks. Shrek recognizes the intelligence of its audience and uses its adult humor to add a layer of fun to the film that stands the test of time, seeing adults return to the film with a new appreciation.

‘Sausage Party’ (2016)

Sausage Party Sausages, Buns & Bagels

While the thought of inanimate objects coming to life sounds like the perfect kids movie echoing the themes of toy story and The beauty and the Beast, sausage party definitely not suitable for children.

Created by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldbergand Jonah Hill, sausage party is an adult animated film set in a world where the products inside the supermarket are alive. With characters such as a sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen), a cute hot dog bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig), and a Jewish bagel played by Edward Norton, sausage party is creative in bringing the film to an adult audience. Being the first 3D computer-animated film to be rated R, sausage party thrives on innuendo and puns aimed at adult audiences and emphasizes that animation is a medium that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

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