2023’s Besat Animated Movies

Animated movies have grown to be an essential part of cinema. While they were once seen as being geared for children, animated films have evolved tremendously over time. Some of cinema’s most effective and well-crafted movies happen to be animated. Each year there are exciting advancements in animation and storytelling that reflect incredible imagination on the screen. 2023 has been no different.



2023 has featured a wide array of animated movies that range from fun franchise sequels, like Trolls Band Together, to hard-hitting fantasy quasi-autobiographies, like The Boy and the Heron. A long list of animated titles can be daunting to go through in order to figure out which ones are worth the watch and those that are skippable. Thankfully, some gems prove to shine brighter than the rest and rank as 2023’s best animated movies.

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10 Merry Little Batman Brings Family Fun To Gotham

Merry Little Batman

Merry Little Batman

Little Damian Wayne confronts enemies in his city after finding himself alone at Wayne Manor.

Release Date
December 8, 2023

Director
Mike Roth

Cast
Luke Wilson , Yonas Kibreab , James Cromwell

Genres
Comedy , Family

Writers
Morgan Evans , Jase Ricci , Etan Cohen

Producer
Rebecca Palatnik

Production Company
Amazon MGM Studios, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation.

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Mike Roth

1h 36m

6.4

Amazon Prime’s Merry Little Batman follows the young Damian Wayne, the Caped Crusader’s son, as he tries to save Christmas in Gotham and prove himself in the process. The movie was a hit with critics and DC fans alike, especially for its novel approach to typically dark and over-serious characters. The December release limited the movie’s charm to 2023’s final day, but it’s still left a great impact.

Merry Little Batman transforms the terrifying streets of Gotham into a place of family fun. It sets the hilarious superhero storyline against a holiday backdrop. The film has something for everyone, whether it’s the many hidden Easter eggs for hardcore DC fans or the cruder toilet humor that appeals to kids. Most importantly, the superhero movie has a memorable animation style which blends the comic book vibe with early 2000s superhero cartoons. Merry Little Batman is full of charm and family-friendly content, which makes it an animated treat for all.

9 Wish Merges Nostalgia With Novelty

Disney Wish Poster

Wish

A young girl named Asha wishes on a star and gets a more direct answer than she bargained for when a trouble-making star comes down from the sky to join her.

Release Date
November 22, 2023

Director
Fawn Veerasunthorn , Chris Buck

Cast
Chris Pine , Alan Tudyk , Ariana DeBose , Evan Peters

Rating
PG

Runtime
1 Hour 35 Minutes

Genres
Adventure , Comedy

Writers
Jennifer Lee , Allison Moore , Chris Buck

Production Company
Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn

1h 35m

5.8

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While Disney is well known for its many box office hits, the House of Mouse has had its fair share of movies that have bombed at the theater.

Disney’s 100th year means that there were high expectations for the studio’s anticipated 2023 release, Wish. Wish has unfortunately earned mixed reviews upon release, but the film still proves to be enjoyable when stripped away from these set higher standards.

For instance, Wish is an inclusive delight, which showcases characters from various backgrounds, ages, and abilities. The film’s narrative is predictable, yet somewhat redeems itself by being reminiscent of Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty through its magic-based story.

The film’s animation style is its biggest selling point. Wish modern technology with classic designs to create a feel that is both nostalgic and new – a fitting trait for Disney’s 100th anniversary. Wish plays the anniversary card a bit too strongly at times with subtle nods. However, the end credits scenes are the perfect journey through Disney’s beloved history. Wish is by no means a perfect film, but it’s a stunning and fitting tribute to the studio’s epic legacy in animation.

8 Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget Was Worth The Wait

Chicken Run Dawn of the Nugget Film Poster

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Release Date
December 15, 2023

Director
Sam Fell

Cast
Bella Ramsey , Zachary Levi , Thandiwe Newton , David Bradley

Rating
PG

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Sam Fell

1h 41m

6.4

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget succeeds by balancing fan-favorite elements of the first film with creative new additions. Ginger navigates a new family life and motherhood with her friends and Rocky, but ultimately faces her old nemesis, Mrs. Tweedy. The hen’s saga is full of fun callbacks that old fans will appreciate, along with a new buddy adventure (with Molly and Frizzle) that appeals to new audiences.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget‘s strongest element is that it retains the essence of its predecessor, both through its delightful stop-motion animation style and through its suspenseful storyline. The film loses out on some redundant plots, but the overall switch from an escape film to a break-in movie makes it a fun, familiar watch. With 23 years between the two films, audiences were skeptical if Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget could live up to the original’s hype. Aardman Animations thankfully rises to the occasion.

7 Leo Cherishes Life

Leo Netflix Poster

Leo

Release Date
January 22, 1984

Director
Robert Smigel , Robert Marianetti , David Wachtenheim

Cast
Adam Sandler , Bill Burr , Cecily Strong , Jason Alexander

Rating
PG

Runtime
102 minutes

Writers
Robert Smigel , Adam Sandler , Paul Sado

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim

1h 42m

7.0

Adam Sandler has always been a chameleon-like actor, but the star becomes a literal lizard in 2023’s Leo. Sandler voices the titular character, a 74-year-old tuatara that goes from class pet to life coach for a class of elementary school students. Leo has been generally praised for its voice acting and animation, but faced some minor criticism for its less-than-impressive musical numbers.

However, Leo‘s musical spin really adds to its lighthearted charm as hilarious antics accompany the songs, which contribute towards the film’s satirical nature.

Leo has tons of humor, but it also has lots of heart as it showcases themes of empathy, kindness, and friendship. Leo’s very human fear of death brings unexpected maturity to the film and makes the narrative a powerful watch for audiences of all ages. Leo‘s wholesome nature and powerful message gives Disney films a run for their money and will have viewers looking for their own real-life Leo.

6 Elemental Is A New Spin On A Classic Tale

Elemental Poster

Elemental

Follows Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, earth- and air-residents live together.

Release Date
June 16, 2023

Director
Peter Sohn

Cast
Leah Lewis , Mamoudou Athie , Ronnie del Carmen

Rating
PG

Runtime
1 hour 41 minutes

Genres
Adventure , Comedy

Writers
John Hoberg , Kat Likkel , Brenda Hsueh

Producer
Denise Ream

Production Company
Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Peter Sohn

1h 41m

7.0

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Disney’s Elemental provides an entertaining spin to the popular opposites-attract trope when a young fire element named Ember teams up with water element, Wade, to save her father’s shop. The film does a great job with its world-building, plus crisp animation and stunning cinematography pull audiences into Wish‘s unique landscapes.

Elemental also explores social issues more extensively than the standard Disney movie. Wish looks at the struggles of first generation immigrants and classism within its Element City. However, this more political departure from Disney Pixar norms has not been well-received by everyone. It’s proven to be a detriment to the film’s critical and box office success. Elemental‘s visual mastery and social focus still make it an incredibly engaging and worthwhile watch, especially for older audiences who can appreciate its nuances.

5 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Saved The Franchise

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem Poster

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The film follows the Turtle brothers as they work to earn the love of New York City while facing down an army of mutants.

Release Date
August 2, 2023

Director
Jeff Rowe , Kyle Spears

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Jeff Rowe, Kyler Spears

1h 39m

7.2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was slowly fading as a franchise after years of lackluster feature films. Luckily, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem successfully brings the turtles back in an epic return to form. This animated reboot has won over critics and led to a resurgence of appreciation for the turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem takes the ninja turtles back to their experimental and entertaining roots. The film doesn’t shy away from the awkwardness of adolescence and how it’s difficult to find yourself at this age. It’s a superhero theme that deeply resonates with the mutant heroes. The movie’s animation is its strongest superpower and the sketchbook style brings unique visuals that help set the film apart from other 2023 releases. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, through its lighthearted approach and bold animation, has become one of 2023’s best animated films.

4 The Super Mario Bros. Movie Beats All Odds

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Pierre Leduc

1h 32m

7.0

The Internet was heavy in negative comments nd low expectations ever since Illumination Studios announced that they were producing The Super Marios Bros. Movie. However, all these assumptions were proven to be misguided once The Super Marios Bros. Movie smashed box office collections. The film has received slight criticism for its thin plot and cheesy dialogue, but overall it’s proven to be a surprise hit.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie feels like a film that’s made for fans. There are countless Easter eggs that warrant multiple viewings in order to spot everything. The film also captures the Mario-Verse’s universal appeal and inserts characters from multiple generations of Super Mario games. The movie’s bright colors and true-to-source designs make the animation all the more enjoyable, especially when it’s paired with the film’s lively soundtrack (“Peaches” emerges as a Grammy-worthy performance). The Super Mario Bros. Movie proves that sometimes simple and fun goes a long way, particularly in animation.

3 Nimona Is A Heartwarming Treat

Nimona Film Poster

Nimona

Release Date
June 30, 2023

Director
Nick Bruno , Troy Quane

Rating
PG

Runtime
101 minutes

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

1h 46m

7.6

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Netflix’s Nimona is an underrated animated gem of 2023. The adaptation’s direct-to-streaming release has made it less popular than its theatrical counterparts. However, Nimona proves to be a creative masterpiece, not only through its beautifully-crafted fantasy world, but also its expert storytelling and lovable characters. There’s the rare instance when the film’s plot becomes predictable, but its LGBTQ+ representation and discussion of important, heavier themes like mental health more than makes up for its shortcomings.

Nimona‘s greatest strength is its titular character, a shape-shifting “monster” who has centuries’ worth of pain and lore for audiences to experience. Ballister, the wrongly-accused knight who befriends Nimona, is equally compelling. The film’s brilliant voice casting (particularly Chloë Grace Moretz) further adds to its appeal and further brings these animated characters to life. Nimona combines the best parts of old fairy tale structures and modern cyberpunk to create an animated film that is inclusive, heartbreaking, and inspirational all at once.

2 The Boy & The Heron Is A Masterpiece

Mahito Maki in The Boy and the Heron (2023)

The Boy and the Heron

A young boy named Mahito yearning for his mother ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning. A semi-autobiographical fantasy from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki.

Release Date
December 8, 2023

Cast
Soma Santoki , Masaki Suda , Takuya Kimura , Aimyon

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
2 hours 4 minutes

Production Company
Studio Ghibli, Toho Company

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Hayao Miyazaki

2h 4m

7.7

Animation can be as meaningful as it is entertaining. Studio Ghibli productions consistently stand as a testament to this philosophy. The studio’s 2023 release, The Boy and the Heron, continues this trend to great effect. The young Mahito grieves over his mother’s recent death, only to be led by a Heron into a mystery realm where life and death are intertwined. He embarks on the mystical and haunting adventure of a lifetime.

The Boy and the Heron‘s animation is meticulously and beautifully crafted. It somehow goes beyond its predecessors to create a world that is both inspiring and intimidating. However, the film’s success comes from the themes at its core, as the narrative explores everything from grief and healing to the complexities of relationships and introspection. The Boy and the Heron‘s layered message is not immediately obvious, which is sometimes a trademark of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. It still poses a limitation on the film’s ability to be universally enjoyed. Older audiences who can grasp the film’s deeper meaning will consider The Boy and the Heron to be an unbridled masterpeice and the quintessential Miyazaki film.

1 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Is Animation At Its Finest

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse Poster

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero.

Release Date
June 2, 2023

Director
Joaquim Dos Santos , Kemp Powers , Justin K. Thompson

Cast
Shameik Moore , Hailee Steinfeld , Oscar Isaac , Jake Johnson

Rating
PG

Runtime
140 minutes

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero , Animation , Action , Adventure

Director

Runtime

IMDb Rating

Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson

2h 20m

8.6

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse quickly comes to mind in any discussion on 2023’s best animated movie. The first Spider-Verse movie broke the animation mold, but its critically acclaimed sequel further experiments with animation to create a stunning masterpiece that’s full of vibrancy, diversity, and imagination.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pairs its exceptional artistry with a story that is equally engaging. Miles Morales’ adventures are full of emotion and suspense without ever falling prey to predictable clichés. Even the villains, whether it be The Spot or even Miguel, promote self-reflection as they blur the line between morality and villainy. All the film’s elements come together to form an epic animated adventure that’s unlike any other. Its exceptional cliffhanger also leaves fans eager for more. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has raised animated film standards to an unprecedented level through its brilliance and flawless execution. It’s the best animated film of 2023, but also the best animated movie of most years.

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