Not Just for Kids: These Are the Best Animated Movies to Watch ASAP

Laura Hanrahan
Photo credit: Khadija Horton
Photo credit: Khadija Horton

From Cosmopolitan

It's kind of wild to think that the first full-length animated movie EVER only came out about 80 years ago (it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, for anyone who isn't a film buff like moi). Since that fateful day in 1936, we've been treated to a bunch of really amazing and super magical animated films. It goes without saying that Disney and Pixar are the biggest powerhouses in the game—they crank out perfectly designed, scripted, and scored animated movie classics like it's their job or something—but of course, newer studios like Dreamworks have delivered fan-favorites from Shrek to How to Train Your Dragon.

Even as an adult, there’s just something so soothing about throwing on an animated movie and diving into the cute, colorful, and often musical world for bit. That's right, there's no shame in watching animation sans little kiddos—you can find plenty of animated flicks that feature less, ahem, family-friendly humor and language. Here are the 21 best animated movies to watch tonight.

Toy Story

This movie is indisputably great for all ages. The buddy comedy bits between Buzz and Woody don't get old, even if you've seen them a thousand times already. Is it just me or was the scene with all the little green alien toys actually kinda scary as a child?

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Frozen

Sing it with me now, "Let it go, let it goooo!" This movie basically took over the world—even if you've never seen it, you likely know the tune to various songs, plus the names of the main characters. By the way, Frozen currently ranks as the 16th highest-grossing film of all time, earning $1.2 billion worldwide.

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Moana

I can't decide what I love most about this movie: the catchy songs that get stuck in my head or the fact that Moana is a kickass princess who saves the day with zero help from any love interest. More of this, please!

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Inside Out

If only we all had Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, and Amy Poehler narrating the emotions in our head, the world would be a better place. Extremely creative and inventive, this movie will stick with you long after it's over. A very good one even when kids aren't present, btw.

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Coco

Get those tissues ready because watching little Miguel uncover his family's history in the Land of the Dead is VERY emotional.

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Up

The first 10 minutes of Up = the greatest love story of all time, hands down. This super poignant Pixar production scored 98% on Rotten Tomato's Tomatometer, just saying.

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Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming? More like ~just keep hitting play~ because it's scientifically impossible to get tired of Finding Nemo.

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WALL-E

Sure, WALL-E might be a robot that can't even speak, but my gooooodness is he able to get you feeling all of the feels. In this fantastic adventure story, WALL-E and EVE jet around outer space trying to save Earth—and you'll just have to watch it for yourself to see what happens.

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Monsters, Inc.

This movie made me go from being scared that there was a monster hiding in my closet to actively rooting for one to show up under my bed. This is a great flick for skittish kids, but the computer animation will truly delight any age. Famed critic Roger Ebert called it "a tour de force."

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Spirited Away

If you've never delved into Japanese animated movies, this coming-of-age story is a great place to start. Ten-year-old Chihiro and her family accidentally stumble upon a resort for supernatural beings, but after her parents are turned into pigs, she must work at the resort to free them. Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003, casual.

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The Lion King

The true circle of life is that you watch The Lion King a million times as a kid and then when you get older and have a kid of your own, you watch it another million times. And you never stop loving it. The end.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington is equal parts charming and creepy as he tries to get Halloween Town to take over the holiday land known as Christmas Town. The Tim Burton musical is somewhat dark, if I'm being honest, which might be part of the reason it now has a cult following. Also worth noting: It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service

Thirteen-year-old witch Kiki moves to a new town and uses her newfound broom-flying skills to set up a flying courier service. You've got to respect the hustle!

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Coraline

Finding a better, alternate universe sounds pretty great (especially, um, nowadays), until your alternate universe family tries to trap you there, of course.

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My Neighbor Totoro

When Satsuke and Mei have to move into an old country house with their father, they soon become friends with all the spirits living there, most notably the big, cuddly Totoro. (Psst! This was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the same filmmaker who did Spirited Away, and it also won a ton of awards.)

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Shrek

Shrek freakin' cleaned up during awards season in 2002. It took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Featured, won at the BAFTAs in the Best Screenplay - Adapted category, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

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The Lego Movie

What happens when a regular Lego man is mistaken for the master builder? He gets dragged into having to save the world from an evil tyrant, duh!

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How to Train Your Dragon

Can you really blame Hiccup (yes, that's his name) for not wanting to fight dragons like his ancestors? Just look at how cute Toothless is!!

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Sausage Party

Yes, Sausage Party is a comedy about food at the grocery store, but it earned itself an R rating for (and this probably won't come as a surprise to you) "strong crude sexual content." You might recognize some of the voices—James Franco, Michael Cera, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, and Salma Hayek all get first billing.

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The Simpsons Movie

Even if you've never seen the TV show (which...uh...what?), The Simpsons Movie is still an excellent watch if you love satire.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

This movie legit won over fifty (50!!) awards. Bragging rights include being the first non-Disney/Pixar movie to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2019 since Rango in 2011.

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