There are so many animated movies on Netflix that the 2018 breakout Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won’t even show up when you search through the genre. To make sure you don’t miss it — as well as other animated gems currently available on the service, we’ve rounded up the 10 best animated movies you can watch right now.
The offerings range from the aforementioned computer-animated superhero shenanigans to the best in hand-drawn animation as well as stop-motion masterpieces, with recent hits as well as decades-old movies with such gorgeous art that they barely look a day old. And whether it’s childish fun or existential angst you’re looking for, this list has got something for you.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Doing something new in the realm of superhero movies is nigh impossible, and yet Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has pulled it off. The film, which stars the Miles Morales version of the wall-crawling hero (as well as numerous other iterations of him from other Spider-verses, hence the film’s title), is a bright, innovative delight, harnessing a visual style that hasn’t been seen before to tell a story that, despite treading some of the same ground, feels equally fresh.
With appearances from the likes of Spider-Ham and Spider-Man Noir, as well as a look into the parts of New York that haven’t yet been seen in other Spider-Man films, Into the Spider-Verse turns what could be a relatively rote story (characters from one dimension get stuck in another, and must work together in order to get home) into a mesmerizing blend of comedy, action and drama. The film is also keenly aware of the comic book history it’s pulling from, and builds some of its best gags off the way Spider-Man has become a staple of pop culture.
Pixar’s musical Day of the Dead fantasy took home two Academy Awards, winning Best Animated Feature as well as Best Original Song for its central tune, “Remember Me.” Even a briefest glimpse at the film’s stunning visuals make it clear that the acclaim is warranted — that the music is mix of Broadway-worthy tunes and thunderous Jerry Goldsmith cues is a cherry on top.
When would-be musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead, he’s forced to seek the help of his famous great-great-grandfather in order to make his way back, and attempt to bring music back into the lives of his family, who strictly forbid and discourage his musical ambitions. The story unfolds into something much bigger, just as the animated landscape does, turning into a tale about family, death, and moving on.
Before the live action remake of Mulan hits theaters next year, why not revisit the original? Two decades later, the film is still a joy to behold, an adaptation of the legend of Hua Mulan, in which Mulan, a young woman (voiced by Ming-Na Wen), disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the Chinese army.
With Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Harvey Fierstein, and Pat Morita (as well the singing of Lea Salonga and Donny Osmond) in the voice cast, the movie is a delight in almost every respect, and notable as the rare Western film to feature a woman of Asian descent as its lead.
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Nothing in this world is perfect (except the first Incredibles), which is both the message of and truth about Incredibles 2. Picking up right where its predecessor left off, Brad Bird’s sequel delves deeper into the philosophical arguments around whether superheroes are good or bad, and the collective responsibility to do the right thing even when it’s the hard thing.
Now that superheroes are back in the limelight, the next step is rehabilitating their public image. Unfortunately, the rise of the superhero also means the rise of the supervillain, and the tech-wielding Screenslaver is determined to see superheroes retired for good. Bird shows off his Spielberg-rivaling flair for action, making the big action scenes pop, and maintaining a sense of total clarity that’s rare in the contemporary CGI battle landscape.
Even a decade later, stop-motion studio Laika’s very first feature film, Coraline, is a marvel. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, the film follows a young girl named Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning). Her family has just moved across the country, and she’s having trouble adjusting to the jump, a task that doesn’t get any easier as eerie magical influences start creeping into her life. Queen among the new influences in Coraline’s life is Other Mother (Teri Hatcher), a doppelgänger of her actual mother who just so happens to sport buttons for eyes.
Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Before Hayao Miyazaki’s string of instant classics for Studio Ghibli, the animator took a crack at bringing to life one of Japan’s most famous manga characters: Arsène Lupin III. The Castle of Cagliostro finds the gentleman thief caught up in a counterfeiting scheme and looking to enact revenge. While Miyazaki’s sense of whimsy is mostly absent from his debut feature, his taste for spry, fluid movement remains, bringing to life gun fights, car chases and other Bond-like action.
My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
In the stop-motion film My Life as a Zucchini (or My Life as a Courgette), the young Icare is sent to a foster home after losing his mother in a grim accident. At the home, he goes by “Courgette,” his mother’s nickname for him. Initially, Courgette has a rough time, as he’s picked on by the other children, who want to know what happened to his parents. As time passes, however, he grows closer to the other children and even falls in love, slowly learning to open and trust others.
The stop-motion animation lends a sense of delicacy to Courgette’s story that is especially necessary given how awful the initial accident is, as well as how surprisingly frankly the children of the home discuss their respective situations.
The End of Evangelion (1997)
An alternate ending to the cult series Neon Genesis Evangelion, the movie The End of Evangelion picks up where the 24th episode of the series and rewrites the ending. It’s probably best to watch the film once you’ve watched the series (handily also available on Netflix, though not without some problems), but even on its own, it’s a striking work of grief and giant robots. Watching Shinji Ikari’s struggle as the fate of the world comes to rest upon his shoulder is made all the more affecting by director Hideaki Anno’s talent for visual composition.
April and the Extraordinary World (2015)
The sci-fi adventure film April and the Extraordinary World presents a steampunk vision of the world — specifically Europe, with Paris boasting twin Eiffel Towers and the French Empire setting its eyes on Canada as the globe comes to depend on burning wood as a source of energy.
In the middle of it all, a young woman named April receives news that her parents, once thought dead, might still be alive. With her talking cat in tow, April sets off to find them, throwing herself into the middle of a conspiracy involving immortality serum, talking komodo dragons, and rockets.
The Little Prince (2015)
This adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s iconic book combines the story of the titular Little Prince with that of a young girl who has just met the now-elderly aviator who serves as the main character of the book. The Prince’s half of the story is animated in stop motion, while the young girl’s half is computer animated.
While it might not seem necessary to add to Saint-Exupéry’s novella, which sent the Little Prince across planets to befriend foxes and roses, the film, directed by Mark Osborne, pulls it off well, making the tender tale a little more of an adventure, the better to translate to the screen.