Best Animated Features of 2021
Another incredible year for the medium
As the calendar turns to December, countless lists detailing the best of the year are published. One category I’m always particularly interested in is animation and 2021 has been a fantastic year for the medium.
Animation still tends to be overlooked by the majority, but there are plenty of titles for everyone. Below I have highlighted some of my favorite and significant animated features of 2021.
There are two more that I don’t go into great detail about below—The Spine of Night and Cryptozoo. These two titles are definitely for adults only and they have glorious animation and unique stories that I had to give them a mention. Anyways, on with the list.
Disney/Pixar has three movies this year (four if you count Ron’s Gone Wrong), that are eligible for the Animated Feature Film Oscar. While I’ve yet to see Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon and Luca didn’t do too much for me. If you are a Disney+ member, you can easily check out Raya and Luca on the service and they’re a fine way to kill a few hours. If you are looking for a traditional Disney musical, you’ll have to wait for Encanto to make its way to Disney+.
Ultimately, Thrice Upon a Time picks a new fate for the teenagers who once protected the world from the threat known as angels. It’s more hopeful compared to the heartbreaking finale of End of Evangelion. That’s fitting because Hideaki Anno has changed quite a bit in the last two decades. He has had a chance to confront his demons and deliver what he believes is the final bow for Evangelion. You can’t satisfy everyone, but I believe this might be the best one yet. And what a marvelous finale it is.
I absolutely loved the Evangelion finale, but this is certainly NOT for people unfamiliar with Evangelion. In order to really get the most from this, you’ll probably have to have seen the TV series and movies that have come before it. Amazon didn’t even bother submitting it for Best Animated Feature, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment here—it’s one of my favorite movies of the year.
From my review earlier this year:
Rarely do I return to a movie immediately after it ends, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing with The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Whether it was the moments when Katie and Rick were trying to repair their relationship or the dog Monchi photobombing the family trip, there are so many standout moments. Each character is given a time to shine and the animation is a delight to behold. The bummer about family trips is that you can’t relive those moments exactly how they happened. That isn’t the case here and The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one trip you’ll want to revisit again and again.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines is still the best-animated film of 2021 and I implore you to watch it on Netflix if you haven’t yet.
Thoughts on Flee, Belle, and Summit of the Gods follow the paywall. Don’t miss out.
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