The 15 Most Visually Stunning Animated Movies Ever Made

8. Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea

This Irish animated fantasy is one of the lesser known yet no less incredible feature of recent years is filled with nuanced and deep characters, but even they are outdone by its amazing visuals. The images on display are awe-inspiring and blissful, crafting a picturesque environment that looks like it was lifted straight out of the most beautifully illustrated story book imaginable.

The traditional twist only grants it a more timeless feel and the sense of craftsmanship seems to seep through and the film overflows with emotion, artistry and beauty.


7. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

I hate to repeat and overused phrase, but the other amazing animation fantasy to emerge last year resembles a painting come to life. The texture is rich and stylized with a watercolor minimalism creating a literal moving portrait.

The simple and restrained composition has an honest, delicate and exquisite nature to it that is yet another one of the many, many hits Studio Ghibli has had over the years, in fact it stands as one of their finest achievements yet (especially impressive remembering that the studio also has My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononke on its filmography as well).


6. Waltz with Bashir


Moody, dark and brutal are not words we associate with beauty, yet they all describe the imagery present in Waltz with Bashir. It’s hard to believe that it is in fact animated hand drawn puppets but it was, with each image being cut up into thousands of single fragments and fashioned individually.

The distinctive guise owes itself to the fact that the technique was actually invented for the film. The effect may be haunting but its gorgeousness is unquestionable and both contrasts and complements the rather depressing subject matter, at times surreal and at others all too real.


5. Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

If there’s any director renowned for his meticulous visual style, it’s Wes Anderson. His incursion into stop motion animation is one that shares that peculiar artistic expression as all of his live action endeavors.

Fantastic Mr Fox was animated at just twelve frames per second and contains so many remarkable features including its distinct color palette, the lighting reference, the monochromatic and centralised framing all come together to form this heterogeneous, delightful and utterly limitless vision.


4. Akira

Akira movie

The animation of Akira was groundbreaking at its time of release for the detail and expressions they could create for their characters, but there’s even more to behold from the dystopian thriller.

The neon textures create an ambiance of a society on the verge of collapse, with all the violent and adrenaline fueled visuals to boot as well as its richly detailed futuristic set pieces. Akira just pulsates with kinetic energy through its style and never lets up from the opening bike chases through Neo Tokyo to its cosmic and mind bending finale.


3. Fantasia

Fantasia (1940)

You knew this would be on here. Disney’s third animated feature film is more than just a beautiful animated classic, it’s a celebration of sight and sound itself, a masterclass in what animation can accomplish when you throw those silly things like story and character out the window.

The animators carefully studied the movements and actions of athletes and dancers to capture what they needed. The rhythmic style and abstract imagery is only made more wondrous by Fantasia’s striking use of color and light and ultimately it still holds up as one of Disney’s most amazing features.


2. Spirited Away


Miyazaki’s masterpiece is overflowing with a kind of exquisiteness the reaches far beyond its aesthetic accomplishments, the dazzling tone, magical nature and spiritual style create an inner beauty as well as an external one.

Even the largest creations like the mutated No Face and the tiniest details such as the hopping lamppost have an air of astounding enchantment to them, ranging from that of rapidity to contemplative. The quiet moments are just as wondrous and intriguing as the active sequences that fully submerge the viewer within this amazing and reverent world.


1. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words

Few animated films genuinely make you pause as you have to reflect upon whether what you just witnessed was actually animated, but that’s exactly what The Garden of Words does with its images. Every frame is a piece of artwork, rendered to perfection and illuminated in an inspiring template.

More than once the visuals are too astonishing for words and it’s used to an almost poetic nature and to make it more remarkable it’s all done in a relatively uninteresting scenery, no post-apocalyptic, spiritual or war torn environments here just regular life portrayed in an almost phot realistic way.

The animation is tender and beyond belief in every aspect from the largest backdrops to the tiniest detail. It contains stunning atmospheric executions, stupendous light to flare off of the lens and reflection representations all contribute to what has to be the most honest yet complex piece of artistry on this list and it almost definitely the most visually stunning animated film of all time.