As we all remember, 2017 was a pretty mediocre year for animation with several movies released but only one or two worth remembering. Thankfully, the same cannot be said for 2018. Although only ten animated films were released throughout the course of the year. A large majority of them were actually really innovative and left memorable marks on the animation genre. From highly anticipated sequels to pleasant surprises where we least expected them, 2018 was a great year for animation. Before we can get to the really good stuff though, we have to start from the worst. So with all that said, here are the animated movies of 2018 ranked from worst to best!
#10 Sherlock Gnomes Is this just going to become a trend now? Every year we’re going to get that one sequel to a movie we never even asked for in the first place? Well this year that movie took the form of Sherlock Gnomes. An absolute joke of a sequel to an absolute joke of a concept. Sherlock Gnomes is the follow up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. Basically a bunch of Gnomeo and Juliet’s gnome friends go missing and so they decide to get Sherlock Gnomes to help them solve the mystery. I feel like when people think of animation as only a kid’s genre, this is the kind of movie they’re thinking of. The comedy is clearly aimed at children and has almost no effort put into it. The plot is forgettable and honestly for that reason alone there isn’t really much to say about it other than that it sucked.
#9 Early Man Early man was the stop motion animated movie of the year and although the diversity of its animation style was appreciated, it unfortunately did not do much to impress. The story follows Dug, a simple caveman as him and his tribe face the approaching bronze age. When Lord Nooth wants to turn his land into a mine, Dug and his clan are forced to dig for precious metals or be forgotten like the stone age. Yah this movie was pretty forgettable and not that interesting to watch.
#8 The Grinch Call my heart two sizes small but if you had asked me two years ago what the fate of Illumination was going to be, I would’ve told you that with original films like Sing and Secret Life of Pets doing really well, they were on the right track to becoming a competitor with the other big names of animation. However, after the disaster of Despicable Me 3, Illumination decided to keep the mediocrity alive and well by releasing in 2018 a movie that we’ve already seen two other times, based on a book that is only 70 pages. On the surface there is nothing extremely wrong with this movie, but honestly the fact alone that I knew exactly how this story was going to go and how it was going to end before even stepping foot into the theater bothered me. So much to the point where that fact alone overshadowed any positive things this movie could’ve done. The one thing I did like was how they added depth to Max the dog’s character but again, that’s a small thing. I want more Illumination originals not retellings.
#7 Hotel Transylvania 3 Sony Animation Studios basically spent all of 2018 doing damage control for the disastrous hit their reputation took last year after the release of The Emoji Movie. How did they accomplish this? By having their next release be the third installment of their most successful franchise. Did we ask for another Hotel Transylvania movie? No. Am I complaining that we got it? Surprisingly, no. Basically, Mavis notices that Drac is getting exhausted and overworked making sure that everyone else’s vacations go smoothly, so she sends the family on a cruise in order to allow Drac the relaxation he so desperately needs. On the cruise, Drac ends up running into trouble from his past and together the group of monsters must find a way to escape the cruise ship. Obviously it wasn’t an original or groundbreaking movie but it definitely wasn’t that bad for being the third movie of a franchise. The comedy was more well thought out and effective and the plot of the story went back to its roots of character development focusing on the characters we actually liked and wanted to see. Sure it basically just moved the plot of the hotel onto a boat but honestly it was pretty entertaining to watch and at the end of the day didn’t really have any bad messages for children or make me feel like I wasted my time.
#6 Smallfoot Y’all when I talk about this year having unexpected pleasant surprises, THIS is the movie i’m referring to. Going into 2018 with everything I had heard about this movie, I had very low expectations and anticipated it to be another dumb kids movie with nothing funny or thought provoking about it. Boy was I wrong. Smallfoot is by no means a masterpiece or close to anything Pixar or Disney worthy, but for a studio that barely makes animated films on their own, Warner Brothers did a great job trying. Smallfoot is about Migo, a friendly Yeti whose world gets turned upside down when he discovers something that he didn’t know existed, a human. He soon faces banishment from his snowy home when the rest of the villagers refuse to believe him. Hoping to prove them wrong, Migo embarks on a journey to find proof of that humans really do exist. What made this movie so special was the message the story chose to address. The film tackled commentary on current social issues like discrimination to an extent that other movies of its kind did not reach. The movie specifically talks about how a lack of effective and understanding communication between both sides of any issue is the ultimate barrier to realizing a solution. In today’s political and social climate, this is an essential and crucial message to be teaching both children AND adults. If you haven’t already, I recommend giving this movie a watch.
#5 Teen Titans Go to the Movies! Ok I lied Smallfoot wasn’t the only unexpected pleasant surprise from the year. Teen Titans Go to the Movies was another movie I was expecting to fail miserably at impressing my expectations. I didn’t really watch the show on Cartoon Network and instead was a die hard fan of the original 2003-2006 series. This movie follows Robin as he struggles to get his own movie since every other big name superhero is getting theirs. Along with the help of his other Titan friends, they decide that in order to be considered real heroes and get their movie, they need to have an arch nemesis. In comes Slade, the Titan’s number one arch nemesis. As the Teen Titans try to get their own movie, several crazy shenanigans take place. This movie’s greatest strength was the comedy. The movie took several well deserved shots at both themselves, DC, Marvel, and superhero movies in general. It was one of those movies that knew very well it wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously and therefore took nothing seriously. The pay off was extremely enjoyable to watch and had the whole theater, both kids and adults laughing. But that wasn’t all the movie had to offer.
#4 Incredibles 2 After 14 long years, Pixar finally gave the public what they had been waiting for since 2004. A highly anticipated sequel to what many fans agree is one of Pixar’s best classics, The Incredibles. Naturally, given the massive success and appeal of the first film, the expectations for the sequel were set extremely high. To be fair, it would be really hard for Pixar to find a way to top the original however that didn’t mean that we shouldn’t expect it. Especially from a studio that has produced sequels worthy of surpassing the original such as both Toy Story 2 and 3, and Finding Dory. The large amount of time since the original had some benefits but overall, in my opinion, led to the cause of why the sequel fell short in comparison to the original and other Pixar films. Especially due to the decision to make the film take place seconds after where the first left off. Basically, for some reasons supers are still illegal? And so the Incredibles after fighting off the Underminer get recruited by yet again another scientific company to have Elastigirl go out this time and do undercover hero work in order to make superheroes legal again. Sound familiar? Yah, we thought so too. Although Incredibles 2 easily features Pixar’s best animation, unfortunately the same cannot be said for its plot and character development. For that reason alone, I could not place the film any higher on this list. The things the movie did well were provide intense beautifully animated action sequences and highlight a little bit more of the family in more scenes. However where the film fell short was leaving the audience in disbelief at the amount of regression seen in the character development. Again I feel like this is mostly noticed because of the decision to have the movie take place right after the first film. The other struggle the movie faced was having a weak, predictable and honestly boring villain. No not screenslaver, that guy was actually scary and had one of the most intense thriller scenes in an animated film i’ve seen in a long time. No, i’m talking about freaking Evelyn Endeavor. But again, overall those things weren’t enough to keep the movie from paling in comparison the other animated movies of the year but it certainly kept it from competing with the heavy hitters of the year. Speaking of which…
#3 Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet Where Pixar fell short in developing a successful sequel, Disney ended up surprising audiences by proving the sequel to Wreck it Ralph wasn’t a disappointment or a mistake. This was a huge deal for Disney because it would be the first theatrical release of a sequel to one of its beloved classics in a long time therefore setting the tone for future sequels to come. The story starts out with Ralph and Vanellope living their normal lives after the first movie, but Vanellope starts craving something different and wants to get a little bit more out of life. Yah.. I know its a little cliche. Anyway, when Ralph tries to help her he actually causes her game to almost get shut down by having the wheel of the game break. So they set out into the world of the Internet to find a Sugar Rush Wheel or Vanellope’s game will be unplugged. While in the internet, they encounter a variety of new characters and worlds and some of the new games cause Vanellope to question what she really wants leading to the real highlight and focus of the film, the character development between her relationship with Ralph. The main reasons why this sequel did a better job than Incredibles 2 is because it expanded on the world from the first film in a far superior and interesting way as well as adding more interesting characters that served as crucial elements to the plot. This movie also had a lot more to give children and adults of all ages in terms of themes and messages regarding friendships and how insecurities can harm the bond between people. Just because friends may be going down different paths in life, it does not mean that the friendship is any less real or that it must come to an end as long as both parties still make the effort to be understanding towards each other. The movie still wasn’t perfect, the plot at times was a little jumbled and all over the place and aside from expanding the universe and adding more characters, the concept itself was not very original and that is why this movie is only at #3.
#2 Isle of Dogs In a year where the two major animation studios both released sequels and 2019 shaping up to be full of nothing but sequels, if there was anything I valued most this year it was originality. I wanted to see the studios takes risks, bring new stories to the big screen and increase their representation. Isle of Dogs was all those things and more, it was a breath of fresh air that the animation landscape very much needed! Unlike with Early Man, the unique look of the stop motion animation here was combined with a great story and characters. The story takes place in futuristic Japan where all dogs have been exiled off of Megasaki City to an island known as Trash Island. A boy named Atari however, escapes and flies to Trash Island in order to find and recover his lost guard dog named Spots. He comes across a pack of wild strays and together they journey across the island in search of his dog. Although simple, so much is done and accomplished with this film. Many of the props for this film go to Wes Anderson as his directing style is very evident in the film. The most enjoyable part of the film for me was the characters, who are all well developed and with the proper amount of time show why you should care or root for them. The animation style was unique to the point where I was intrigued throughout the whole film by the way the characters looked and expressed all their emotions through eyes more than moving. In several cases, characters would just be standing still but still conversing and conveying a lot of development. The only reason why this is not my number one pick is because as great as the movie was, I wouldn’t expect children of all ages to understand it or relate to it. It would be harder for really young audiences to sit still through it all. There are also some really disturbing images that come along with the style of animation, specifically for me a scene with maggots that was awfully close to reality. At times the dogs come off as really scary because of how realistic they look. Which again, are all strengths of the movie’s animation, however in my opinion, a great animated movie does its job of appealing to us at all ages, whether we are young children, adolescents or adults. This movie tended to lean more towards the adolescent and adult age but the experience was well worth the tone. Hopefully Isle of Dogs won’t be Wes Anderson’s last animated film because the genre could certainly continue to benefit from his works.
#1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse This movie is by far 2018’s best animated movie. And the studio behind this masterpiece was Sony Animation Studios. I mentioned earlier how with Hotel Transylvania 3 Sony managed to retain at least the little bit of reputation it had pre-Emoji Movie but y’all when this movie came out, Sony gained much of my respect back. The potential is there! They can make great animated movies that compete with other major animation studios. To put how much this movie’s success means into perspective, it just won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature in a year where BOTH Disney and Pixar were also nominated. In the thirteen years that this award has existed, there have only been two other times when a Non-Disney or Pixar film one this award. The Adventures of Tin Tin in 2011 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 in 2014. With the Oscar nominations just released, I anticipate Into The Spiderverse taking home the oscar as well. When we look back at 2018, we will remember it as the year of the Spiderverse! The story takes place in Brooklyn New York introducing us to Myles Morales as he begins his journey as Spider-Man while meeting various alternate versions of the beloved Super Hero that we’ve come to know and love. Overall this movie is a prime example of an action packed, character driven story that is fun and entertaining for all ages. Spiderman fans new and old can swing right into the world of the MultiVerse and invest themselves in a thrilling adventure that leaves audiences wanting much more from these characters, this world, and the music! The soundtrack to this movie is absolutely addictive and compliments the scenes from the film extremely well. Now you can’t talk about this movie without talking about one of its most defining characteristics, the animation!!! 2018 was a diverse year for animation in general, several of the movies mentioned in this list did not stick to just one animation style. Instead, a lot of them decided to flex their animation skills by incorporating multiple styles in the same film. Movies like Teen Titans Go to the Movies, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and of course Into the Spider Verse all showed off different styles of 3-D animation and 2-D animation, as well as Early Man and Isle of Dogs giving us our taste of stop motion animation. Into the Spiderverse managed to use animation to portray characters from different alternate universes as well as utilizing animation to create their world as reflective of comic book pages coming to life on the big screen. The animation seen in this film is so innovative and has left an impact on audiences that I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of it appear in the near future. We NEED it to appear more in the near future. If you haven’t seen this movie yet then GO SEE IT! There is no reason for you to miss out on this gem of a movie.
2018 was a long year but we finally made it to 2019 and with all the positives in animation from last year, I’m hopeful that 2019 will also bring us great things. In fact, let’s take a moment to grasp a quick sneak peak at all the movies supposed to come out next year.