Top 5 Most Underrated Animated Movies of All Time

Animated Movies that Should Stop Being Overlooked

With dozens of animated movies flooding multiplexes per year, it’s becoming all-too-easy for some films to unfairly slip through the cracks. Though I could probably come up with a list containing dozens of such movies, I’ve limited myself to five animated films that I feel are most deserving of a second chance -- or a first one, if you haven't seen them yet!

01
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Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

One of Disney’s last traditionally-animated offerings, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a captivating, beautifully-drawn effort that was unfairly panned by critics and ignored by audiences back in 2001. The film, which follows several misfits as they attempt to locate the legendary sunken continent, is as far from a typical Disney cartoon as one could imagine – there are no musical numbers or talking animals, for example – yet the enthralling storyline and compelling characters cement Atlantis: The Lost Empire’s place as one of the studio’s most underrated endeavors.

The movie’s exciting presentation ensures that it remains a step above many of its live-action counterparts, including 2008’s .

02
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Porco Rosso (1992)

Despite his near-flawless track record, a few of Hayao Miyazaki's animated endeavors go unnoticed by all but his most hardcore fans. 1992’s Porco Rosso, which details the ongoing adventures of a World War I veteran bounty hunter who just happens to have a pig’s head atop his human body.

It is as beautifully animated and consistently entertaining as such Miyazaki classics as 1997’s and 2001’s Spirited Away, so it’s impossible not to wonder why the movie remains such an obscure part of the animator’s body of work. There’s an old-fashioned quality to Porco Rosso that makes it one of the most accessible of Miyazaki’s releases, as the movie features colorful characters and a number of visceral, propulsive action sequences.

03
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A Bug’s Life (1998)

It seems almost ridiculous to label anything coming from Pixar Animation as underrated, but A Bug’s Life, the studio’s second full-length release, has all but been forgotten in the wake of such monstrously successful titles as 2003’s Finding Nemo, 2004’s , and the trilogy. Until 2015's The Good Dinosaur, A Bug’s Life was Pixar's lowest-grossing film at the U.S. box office.

Armed with a charming selection of characters and an engaging storyline, A Bug’s Life may not aspire to tug at your heartstrings like 2009’s Up or wow you with its awe-inspiring visuals like 2008’s WALL-E – yet the movie is as effortlessly entertaining and likeable as anything within Pixar’s flawless filmography.

04
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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Much like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron represented one of its studio’s last-gasp attempts at a hand-drawn cartoon before computer-generated fare dominated the animation landscape. But despite DreamWorks Animation’s best efforts, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron died a rather quick death at the worldwide box office – which is just too bad, since the movie primarily comes off as a timeless adventure that holds appeal for viewers of all ages.

It’s an atmosphere that’s only heightened by the sweeping visuals and majestic score, with the movie’s old-school sensibilities leading Roger Ebert to justifiably label it a “a big, bold, colorful adventure” that is “surprisingly moving.”

05
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Titan A.E. (2000)

One of the cartoon genre’s most expensive flops, Titan A.E. is nevertheless an engaging sci-fi movie that has been unjustly relegated to the trash-bin of animation history. The story transpires in the year 3028 and follows several humans as they attempt to save their race from total annihilation.

Titan A.E. features a series of eye-popping action sequences. Filmmakers Don Bluth and Gary Goldman offer up several rollicking space battles that rival anything within George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels in terms of sheer excitement. With a voice cast that includes Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, and John Leguizamo, Titan A.E. is just one of those forgotten movies that deserves a second look on home video.

Edited by Christopher McKittrick