The AFI’s 10 Best Animated Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes

The American Film Institute honors the art of filmmaking and is prone to singling out the movies and filmmakers who have had an indelible impact on the industry. Between 1998 and 2008, the AFI released a string of lists in which they ranked the greatest aspects of film, whether it be the greatest quotes, scores, songs, or any other element of filmmaking.

They also released the AFI’s 10 Top 10, in which they counted down the ten greatest movies in ten distinct genres. One of these genres was animation. Like everything subjective, the AFI’s list is open to debate. As such, it’s interesting to note the disparate Rotten Tomatoes scores of each individual movie.

10 Shrek (2001) – 88%

Shrek is certainly one of the most unique animated films of all time. Led by brilliant vocal performances from Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, Shrek received enormous amounts of praise for its sense of humor and constant subversion of long-established fairy tale tropes.

This is a fairy tale for the modern age, warping tropes into an original and charming love story that also happens to be filled with more juvenile jokes. That said, it’s the lowest-ranking movie on this list, sitting at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

9 Bambi (1942) – 90%

Bambi is an undeniable classic, and it has long been integrated into the wider pop-culture consciousness. The name “Bambi” has become synonymous with cute deer, and the famous scene in which Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter is widely regarded as one of the saddest scenes in movie history.

Even people who have never seen Bambi know the general gist of the story, so powerful is its impact. However, it may be a little too dated for some, resulting in the second-lowest ranking of 90%.


8 The Lion King (1994) – 93%

Widely regarded as one of Disney’s best films, The Lion King truly has it all. There’s a fantastic and tragic story rooted in Shakespearean tragedy (it’s no secret that The Lion King is modeled after Hamlet). There are also the iconic characters like Scar, Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Zazu, Rafiki, and Timon & Pumbaa.

And of course, there’s the brilliant soundtrack composed by Elton John and Tim Rice, featuring classic songs like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and what is arguably the greatest villain song in Disney history, “Be Prepared”.

7 Beauty And The Beast (1991) – 94%

Disney enjoyed a stellar string of movies throughout the early ’90s, and it began with Beauty and the Beast. Perhaps the greatest and most influential Disney film of the modern era, Beauty and the Beast made movie history by becoming the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. It does everything The Lion King does, only (arguably) better.

Containing iconic characters, a gorgeous love story, spectacular animation, and the best soundtrack in the Disney canon, there’s simply no going wrong with Beauty and the Beast.

6 Fantasia (1940) – 95%

Fantasia is easily the strangest film on this list, and quite possibly the most experimental mainstream animated film of all time. The film certainly isn’t for everyone, consisting of eight individual segments scored to classical music. Breaking from Disney tradition, Fantasia doesn’t tell a story in the traditional sense.

Instead, it’s more of a visual and aural treat with aims of being more “artful” than its predecessors. Mileage varies with Fantasia, but those willing to explore will find a unique and unforgettable experience.

5 Cinderella (1950) – 97%

Like most of Disney’s older repertoire, Cinderella is an iconic piece of entertainment that has long enjoyed a high standing in popular culture. In many ways, the story of Cinderella is more famous than the movie itself. Everyone knows about the evil stepmother and stepsisters, the pumpkin carriage, the ball, and the glass slipper, even if they’ve never seen a single still from the movie.

It’s the type of movie that transcends itself, and it may be the most well-known of all the Disney stories.

4 Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937) – 98%

If nothing else, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs must be acknowledged for its contributions to movie history. Serving as the first full-length Disney animated movie, Snow White instantly made an impact, earning strong praise for its animation and launching the very identity of “Disney” as we know it today.

While it’s obviously a little dated today, Snow White remains perfectly entertaining and serves as an important time capsule. There’s nothing else like it.

3 Finding Nemo (2003) – 99%

One of two Pixar films on the AFI list, Finding Nemo was released in 2003 and serves as the most recent entry. Despite not holding the “stature” of something like Snow White or Cinderella, Finding Nemo holds its own special importance in movie history.

It tells a beautiful father-son story, it’s filled with iconic characters and gorgeous animation, and Ellen DeGeneres gives one of the all-time greatest vocal performances as the forgetful Dory.

2 Pinocchio (1940) – 100%

Another classic Disney film, Pinocchio was the second Disney film to be produced, and it continued the company’s newfound legacy. Pinocchio himself has long remained a popular character, and his growing nose has been integrated into wider cultural use to denote someone who is lying.

The old-school animation has a certain charm to it, “When You Wish Upon a Star” is one of the greatest Disney songs of all time, and supporting characters like Jiminy Cricket and Geppetto prove just as iconic as the protagonist himself.

1 Toy Story (1995) – 100%

The second Pixar film on the list, Toy Story is one of the rare films to hold a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Put simply, there’s nothing to dislike about this movie.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have incredible chemistry as Woody and Buzz, and the story is a beautifully told tale about friendship, growing up, and embracing change. And of course, the animation is iconic, introducing the very concept of computer-generated imagery and changing how animated movies were made. Its impact is still being felt today, and it is widely regarded as a classic.

Next10 Best Actors Who Haven’t Won An Oscar For Acting, According To Ranker

About The Author

Nathan Sharp (852 Articles Published)

Nathan Sharp is a writer from outside Toronto, Ontario. He has a love of movies and television, having enjoyed them for more than twenty years. His preferences include drama, action, and horror, with the former being a particular point of interest and fascination.

He also has a love of video games, particularly those of Rockstar.

Whether it be about film, television, or video games, Nathan loves a good discussion and has written hundreds of articles for Screen Rant.

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