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The 20 Best Animated Movies of 2020

This year’s gems sprung from both the expected and unexpected corners of the medium.
Best Animated Movies of 2020
By  · Published on December 15th, 2020

This article is part of our 2020 Rewind. Follow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more released in this very strange year. In this entry, we explore the best animated movies of 2020.

Peeking back at our 2020 Preview, we entered the year in the same fashion that we do every year: filled with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement for what lies ahead. Twelve months later, a lot has gone down, and we did not receive every movie we were thirsting to see.

However, while we did not get Raya and the Last Dragon or Evangelion: 3.0+1.0, most of the other animated movies we were craving did find some form of release despite theatrical troubles. Even better, many of the movies we were psyched to see proved to be real bangers and found their way onto the list below.

Pickings were not as slim as you might suspect, and some of the year’s best films sprung from unexpected corners. Short-form animation continues to prove itself as an arena for experimentation and innovation. Several of 2020’s best works don’t even crack an hour. One doesn’t even break ten minutes.

Feel free to get animated yourself as you explore this list of 2020’s finest cartoon movies.

20. My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising

My Hero Academia Heroes Rising

The second cinematic brawl to spin out of the My Hero Academia anime series is more of the same. If you dig that same, then your palate is rewarded. Transferred to a remote island, U.A. High’s Class 1-A find themselves the last line of defense against Izuku Midoriya, the holder of One for All. Together they scream and smash against each other, igniting wave after wave of kinetic, feverish animation. The energy emitted from the screen is all-consuming. Take a bath in it or drown.

19. Alien Xmas

Alien Xmas animated movies 2020

Alien Xmas springs out of Chiodo Brothers Productions, the same maniacs that brought Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the wannabe Rankin/Bass stop-motion segments of Elf to life. It tells the tale of X, the smallest member of an alien race consumed with a desire to collect trinkets. Charged with invading Earth, X travels to the corner of the planet that seems to have the most toys worth looting: the North Pole. While in the process of taking, he learns the value of giving.

18. We Bare Bears: The Movie

We Bare Bears The Movie

San Francisco is fed up. The three bear brothers (Grizz, Panda, and Ice Bear) cause one accidental catastrophe too many, and an angry mob forms to push them out of their community. The brothers flee to Canada, dodging the attacks of a villainous wildlife agent.

We Bare Bears: The Movie replicates the Cartoon Network series’s tone and humor and simply makes it longer. Does it feel cinematic? No. That’s fine. More is better when it comes to these awkward, loveable weirdos.

17. Over the Moon

Over The Moon Netflix animated movies 2020

Over the Moon wants to be a part of the Disney Renaissance. They hired an old school Disney animator (Glen Keane) to helm the project. They jammed it full of poppy songs and crammed a plethora of cutesy sidekicks to aid their hero to her heartfelt destination. You get the sense that there is an algorithm in play, but dammit, the movie charms with its approximation.

16. A Whisker Away

A Whisker Away

A Whisker Away is the stupidest title. Ignore it. Let’s pretend Netflix uploaded the anime under its original moniker, literally translated as “Wanting to Cry, I Pretend to Be a Cat.” Ah, that’s better. You’re curious now, right?

Miyo (Cherami Leigh) is an unhappy middle school girl. She absolutely adores her classmate Kento (Johnny Yong Bosch), but he won’t give her the time of day. When a mysterious stranger gives her a kitten mask, she transforms into a feline. In this form, she gains unprecedented access to Kento and discovers the torments of his everyday life.

A Whisker Away is a sorrowful exploration of preteen hell. Each pubescent pang, whether wrapped in magic or mundanity, is felt deeply. You’ll squirm through your watch, but triumph comes through survival.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)