Animation is often fun for the whole family, with Disney being the standard go-to for many parents and animation fans. 2021 was a difficult year for the film industry due to the pandemic, and many animated films were sent off to streaming services at the beginning of the year. This year saw some interesting developments in the animation stage. Sony Animation, for example, released many new movies on Netflix this year to critical acclaim.
Many Japanese animated films were released to theaters in America in 2021, but they didn’t receive the same type of critical attention from Rotten Tomatoes that some of the other entries did. While many received upwards of 80-90 percent on the Tomatometer, less than 10 reviews make it hard to determine how they would have done with the type of attention a Disney film would get. Still, according to Rotten Tomatoes, the top ten animated films of 2021 featured a wide range of pictures from around the world.
10 Sing 2 – 70%
The sequel to Illuminations Sing, Sing 2 returns to the musical animal world and sees the lovable misfits of the first film try to open a Vegas act. The all-star cast from the first film returns and this time, Bono joins as a reclusive musician that Buster Moon wants to recruit for his big show.
According to critics, Sing 2 offered more of what audiences liked about the first film. More singing, more dancing, and more heart. With a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that kids and parents found an exciting movie to go see during the holiday season.
9 Paw Patrol: The Movie – 79%
Due to the pandemic, this highly anticipated movie based on the popular kids’ show was moved to Paramount+, where kids were able to safely enjoy the new movie. Oftentimes, animated films try to go for “fun for the whole family” but there’s nothing wrong with developing one that’s just for the kids. The continuing exploits of the PAW Patrol are something kids have been eager for.
8 Ron’s Gone Wrong – 80%
One of the strays that Disney picked up from its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Ron’s Gone Wrong sees the whole world obsessed with personal robots that serve as sentient iPhones. The story follows a young boy who is paired up with a defective one and they become unlikely friends as they fight to show other kids that no one is ever alone.
7 Vivo – 86%
One of the films that Sony Pictures Animation sold to Netflix, Vivo stars Ynairaly Simo as Gabi and Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Vivo. Vivo follows the title character as he travels with Gabi to deliver a love song from Vivo’s old departed friend.
With little to no marketing, Vivo became a surprise hit with critics and viewers and currently sits at 86%. Even though critics didn’t find anything particularly new or surprising about this film, the songs that were supplied by Lin-Manuel Miranda are credited with carrying the film to a fresh rating.
6 Encanto – 91%
Disney’s second animated original that was released in 2021, Encanto was a big critical hit. Encanto follows the Madrigal family, who are a family gifted with mystical powers such as super strength and super hearing except for Mirabel. However, Mirabel, played by Stephanie Beatriz, is soon tasked with finding out why the miracle of their magic is dying and along the way hopes to fix her family.
With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Encanto has enchanted audiences and critics alike. The new setting and family are said to be handled with love and respect. That mixed with the always stunning animation and Disney magic catapulted this movie to a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.
5 Luca – 91%
Critics fell in love with this film. While the story was simple, it proved that Pixar was able and willing to develop animation styles and techniques outside of the realism that they had been pushing for all these years.
4 Raya And The Last Dragon – 94%
Disney Animations’ first film to be released in 2021, and the only one of the two that’s not a musical. Raya and the Last Dragon follow Raya as she finds the last dragon so they can put an end to a great evil that is destroying the land. Raya and the Last Dragon was also one of the last hybrid release films that Disney put out.
Even though critics pointed out that the film still stuck to the classic Disney princess formula, its stunning animation and voice work elevated the film for them. Disney’s representation has been a major criticism for them for several years now and Raya and the Last Dragon went a long way in rectifying that in the eyes of the public.
3 The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – 97%
Sporting an innovative animation style, the likes of which that could give Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a run for its money, The Mitchells vs. The Machines was the critical darling of the animation world. Following Katie Mitchell and her family, as they try to survive and then stop the robot apocalypse, the Netflix film was a heartwarming surprise.
The film’s energetic animation was a breath of fresh air to critics and audiences alike. Most of the animation style stems from how “weird” the main character is meant to be, giving it a unique look that celebrates the weird film nerd in you. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreakingly emotional, and every percent in that 97% was earned.
2 Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time – 100%
The fourth installment in the Rebuild of Evangelion series has been a long time coming for fans of the anime. Once again following the exploits of Shinji and the gang, this film serves as Hideaki Anno’s final statement on the Evangelion series.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t an easy feat but it was still the most reviewed anime movie that was released in America last year. The last film in the Evangelion series served as a fitting and satisfying conclusion to all who saw it.
1 The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf – 100%
The first feature-length film in Netflix’s popular Witcher franchise, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf serves as a prequel to the series starring Henry Cavil. The film follows Geralt’s mentor Vesemir as he fights monsters and uncovers a plot to destroy the Witchers.
Even though less than 50 critics reviewed the movie, it sits at a stable 100%. Studio Mir has been turning out stunning animation for Netflix for a while now and this film was no exception. Its fluid animation and swashbuckling story resonated with all who saw it and served as a nice stepping stone leading into The Witcher: Season 2.
15 Best Movies Of 2021, Ranked (According To IMDb)
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