The best animated movies on Netflix | – Entertainment Weekly News

There's no limit to what the imagination can dream up — and with animation, there's no limit to what filmmakers can accomplish on screen. From stealing the moon, to raining food, to traveling through time, the medium is one of pure potential. Visually gripping, with art rendered in 2D, 3D, motion graphics, or stop motion, animation is for all ages. And Netflix has curated an impressive collection, including comedies, cartoons, and a few of the platform's original features. Here are our picks for the best animated movies streaming on the site.
2010 was the year of the animation villain, as evidenced by the dueling films Despicable Me and Megamind, both anti-hero origin stories. When super-villain Gru’s (Steve Carell) reputation as a criminal mastermind is called into question, he decides to prove his evil abilities once and for all by executing the ultimate heist: stealing the moon. Unfortunately for Gru, he has competition in the form of an ambitious, young upstart named Vector (Jason Segel), who is coming for Gru’s villainous job and title. After Gru is unable to complete a portion of his plan, he adopts three young sisters (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Fisher) with the intention of ditching them after the job is completed, but finds that parenting them is more rewarding than any criminal activity.
Spawning two prequels and two sequels (with another slated to arrive in 2024), Despicable Me is a franchise capable of filling up your evenings for an entire business week. Comedy fans will recognize the familiar voices of  Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, and Will Arnett, and musical lovers will immediately pick up on the dulcet tones of one Julie Andrews. Featuring, as EW’s critic points out, “an American story, from a Spanish animator’s idea, fleshed out by a French animation house” Despicable Me offers something for everyone.
If you liked Despicable Me, you may also enjoy: Megamind (2010), also streaming on Netflix.
The legendary adventures of awesomeness continue in the third (and seemingly final) installment of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Jack Black is back to voice Po, who has recently succeeded his now-retired mentor Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) as a kung fu teacher. While struggling to develop his style of instruction, Po happens upon his biological father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) and the two forge a bond. Po agrees to accompany Li Shan to a secret panda village to learn the art of chi — but when a supernatural villain threatens to destroy all kung fu masters, Po must overcome his teaching difficulties and find a way to turn a village of pandas into a disciplined fighting force. The Furious Five return (played by Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross) and J.K. Simmons stars as the antagonist, Kai. In keeping with the family theme of the film, four of Angelina Jolie’s six kids make voice cameos. 
And if you need more convincing, animation, an EW reviewer writes in their review of the film, “is perhaps the best medium for martial arts, helping it move beyond superhuman physicality into the realm of mystical energy.” 
If you liked Kung Fu Panda 3, you may also enjoy: How to Train Your Dragon (2010), streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Regardless of whether or not ’tis the season, Klaus is a Santa Claus origin story that’s enjoyable any time of the year. Starring Oscar winner J.K. Simmons as the film’s eponymous hero, Klaus tells the tale of a widowed Norwegian lumberman who is recruited by the town’s new postman Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) to make toys for him to deliver in an effort to prove his father, the postmaster general, wrong. But when Klaus’ toys begin to cheer up the children of Smeerensburg — a town whose inhabitants are perpetually engaged in a feud between two familial clans — Jesper and Klaus must step out of their comfort zones to help save the town from itself.     
A Spanish/American animated film marking the debut of director Sergio Pablos (who also developed the concept for Despicable Me), Klaus offers a new perspective on the gift giving hero of the Christmas season. “It’s not Santa Claus, it’s Klaus,” Simmons — who was once a mall Santa himself — tells EW. “He’s certainly not the cuddly St. Nick that people see when they go to Macy’s when we first meet him.” 
Klaus isn’t just another feel-good film; it’s also a film that looks great. Employing unique technology to transform 2D animation into what looks like 3D, the film is well-deserving of its Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature (the first of Netflix’s original animated features to receive that distinction). 
If you liked Klaus, you may also enjoy: Happy Holidays from Madagascar (2005), also streaming on Netflix.
Who among us hasn’t pretended to be something we’re not to attract the attention of a crush? In the 2020 Japanese anime film A Whisker Away, a middle-school girl named Miyo struggles with unrequited love as she yearns for her classmate, Kento, who continues to reject her romantic advances. Upon receiving a magical mask capable of turning her into a cat, Miyo is able to spend time with Kento without fear of rejection — but it’s a risky proposition, as one day, the transformation could become permanent. 
The film’s Japanese title, which literally translates to Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to be a Cat, tells you all you need to know about the simplicity and heart of the narrative. Packed with sumptuous visuals and a universally relatable core, this winsome coming-of-age story is intended for teens and young adults, but is also a must-see for anime enthusiasts, magical realism fans, and those looking to have their faith in love renewed.   
If you liked A Whisker Away, you may also enjoy: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), streaming on HBO Max.
Meteorology meets the Midas touch in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a computer-animated comedy based on the 1979 children’s book by the same name. Cloudy tells the story of Flint (Bill Hader), a struggling inventor who  — while living in Swallow Falls, an island with a predominantly sardine-based diet — creates a weather machine capable of turning water into food. But when Flint loses control of the machine, what began as a tasty treat for the citizens of Swallow Falls soon turns into a climate disaster unlike any they’ve experienced before. With a sequel and a two-season spin off series (airing first on Cartoon Network and later on Canada’s YTV) Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a franchise capable of offering plenty of second helpings. Also featuring the voices of Anna Faris, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris, and Lauren Graham, this light-hearted film is fun for the whole family (but best enjoyed on a full stomach).
If you liked Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, you may also enjoy: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013), also streaming on Netflix.
Every family has problems, but the Mitchell family has big problems — robot apocalypse-type problems. In this animated comedy, a dysfunctional family’s (voiced by Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and director Mike Rianda) already messy road trip is thrown into further chaos when robots attempt to take over the world. As the only people left to fight them off, it’s up to the Mitchells to take out the machines and save humanity. But to do that, they’ll have to ensure their family’s connection to each other is stronger than their connection to their phones and iPads. 
In an ironic twist, The Mitchells vs. The Machines — whose message warns of the dangers of relying too much on technology — employs both hand-drawn and CGI animation to create its visuals. Speaking to EW, McBride explains that the film makes us question how we (and our children) interact with technology. “It’s not something we should keep them from,” he said. “We should just understand how to make sure they’re using it in a way that’s adding to their lives and not distracting from it.”
If you liked The Mitchells vs. The Machines, you may also enjoy: The Incredibles (2004), streaming on Disney+.
Imagine, if you will, if The Secret Garden and Back to the Future had an anime baby. The result would be 2018’s Mirai, the story of a boy trying to navigate his emotions after the birth of his new baby sister, Mirai. Four-year-old Kun is used to enjoying his parents’ full attention, but as his family attempts to adjust to a number of life changes, Kun flees to his family’s garden, which he soon discovers is capable of transporting him through time. As Kun continues to seek refuge there, he meets his family members at different phases of their lives, and begins to develop compassion and understanding for their struggles, too. 
Featuring the voices of John Cho and Rebecca Hall as Kun’s parents, and Daniel Dae Kim as the voice of his great-grandfather, Mirai is a thought-provoking, beautifully executed tale of self-discovery and creating family bonds. Directed by acclaimed Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda, the film is considered the capstone entry in his career, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. As EW’s critic says, “Hosoda imaginatively uses different animation styles to differentiate between the down-to-earth family stories and out-of-this-world time-travel sequences… Such mind-boggling visuals are well-balanced with a grounded attitude and an appreciation for the little moments in life.”
If you liked Mirai, you may also enjoy: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
The third of Netflix’s original animated features, Over the Moon is one of the platform’s most stunning visual works of art. Directed by Oscar-winner Glen Keane (the Disney animator behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast), this vibrant film tells the story of Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), a young Chinese girl mourning the death of her mother. A passionate scientist, Fei Fei finds solace in a story her parents told her about Chang’e (Phillipa Soo) — a goddess who lives on the moon — and decides to build a rocketship so she can visit her. A vibrant exploration of Chinese culture, grief, and believing in the face of adversity, the film features gorgeous animated sequences, memorable songs, and the voices of John Cho, Ken Jeong, and Sandra Oh.
An ambitious feature lovingly crafted by a pedigreed production team, Over the Moon is a family film that will haunt you long after the credits have rolled. “There was this one shot with Fei Fei where she just became so real she won my heart,” Keane tells EW. “She’s like your own child, in a way.” 
If you liked Over the Moon, you may also enjoy: Turning Red (2022), streaming on Disney+.
Viva la Vivo! Lin-Manuel Miranda partners with Netflix for this computer-animated original that starts in Havana and ends in Miami, with stops in Key West and the Everglades along the way. Underscored by Latin beats, propelled by a fast-moving story, and even featuring some rapping, Vivo is a buoyant celebration of Caribbean culture. Miranda stars as Vivo, a kinkajou living in Havana as one half of a street-performing act. When his partner Andrés (played by Juan de Marcos González) passes away, Vivo resolves to deliver a song Andrés wrote for his long lost love Marta (Gloria Estefan), who is about to perform her retirement show in Miami. Aided by Andrés’ great-niece Gabi (Ynairaly Simo), Vivo hits all the wrong notes in his quest to keep love alive, but his journey is a delight to watch.
Musically, Vivo combines mambo, hip-hop, and EDM, and while it’s not Miranda’s best-known work, earworms like “My Own Drum” are sure to lodge themselves deep into your subconscious. “Have tissues ready,” an EW critic recommends in their review, “and thank Vivo for teaching the little ones a valuable lesson: Do not go into a swamp alone, or you will meet a tree-size python who sounds just like Michael Rooker.”
If you liked Vivo, you may also enjoy: Moana (2016), streaming on Disney+.
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