2023 was an amazing year for films of all genres but there were also an impressive amount of animated movies. Now I am a defender of animation forever. Mostly because the Academy and some of the general public seem to think that animation is inherently for children and not respected appropriately as an artform. That said, I love animated movies so they are getting their own article. We are ranking the animated movies of 2023 from worst to best. Like with a lot of lists I’ve made, I don’t think any of these movies were bad; we are just going from less good to great.
For this article we will specifically be ranking animated movies that had theatrical releases. Streaming releases will have to be their own separate list.
Starting with the less good we have Wish. It had the potential to be incredible but the music caused it to be Disney’s worst production. This is truly the worst musical Disney has ever produced and that is wildly disappointing since we’ve had recent magic come out of that company. Walt would be disappointed.
Next up we have Elemental. Elemental was a good movie, I thought it was really sweet. The problem I had with it actually didn’t have anything to do with the movie itself. I think it was marketed poorly and that the trailers focused too much on the love story and not enough on what the movie was actually about. The immigrant story was far more compelling and should have been given way more credit.
Getting to the middle and frankly pretty good movies we’ve got Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. Ruby Gillman was a really cute movie. I really love coming of age stories. And so few coming of age stories revolve around teenage girls and I think that those stories are so important. I love the existence of this movie and I think it was executed very well.
The Super-Mario Brothers Movie was one of the highest grossing movies of 2023 and it is easy to see why. The appeal to both fans of any iteration of the games as well as their kids is very obvious. However I am really over Chris Pratt being in stuff so honestly his presence kind of killed the movie for me. I really understand its popularity. But popularity doesn't equal quality and the last two movies ahead of it are infinitely better films in both content and execution.
Across the Spiderverse is a brilliant accomplishment for animation. Seriously such a feat of art and storytelling. And a truly beautiful addition to the film industry. The only reason it is placed second is because I have to wait 3-5 years for the next movie and we ended on a hell of a cliffhanger.
And last but not least Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles earns its top spot. This is as close to a flawless movie as it gets. The animation style felt very much like a comic book and the story was incredible. I think it was one of the best adaptations and executions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that exists.
I LOVED the animated movies this year and I truly hope we get more of them soon. That said, I also hope that after the deals that were made this year for SAG-AFTRA and the WGA that the animators also go on strike so they start getting treated like humans and paid the way they deserve. The working conditions on animated movies are more often than not inhumane. And as they are producing some of the greatest movies of our time, artists need to be treated and paid properly.