With no clear frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, many pundits are claiming that it was a lousy year for animation. It wasn’t. There have only been a handful of films that have captured the imagination of the movie-going public in a serious way and there were a number of high profile, expensively produced bombs that littered the cinematic landscape (The Secret Life of Pets ended up as a franchise nonstarter), but these things are true every year. The fact that The Angry Birds Movie 2 narrowly missed my list is a testament to the variety and quality of the animated features released this year. (Seriously, it’s good.) And, it should be noted, I haven’t gotten a chance to see Weathering With You yet, although I am, of course, dying to.
Also, before we get into the list, I wanted to stress that Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King is, without question, an animated film. The fact that many are still referring to the movie as “live action” is as baffling as it is factually incorrect; this new Lion King was hand animated by a team of talented artists, just like the original 1994 classic. The movie is an undeniable technical accomplishment, for sure, but should be heralded for what it is: one of 2019’s most successful animated films.