“The Iron Giant” is a Cold War-era tearjerker.
Set during the Cold War, “The Iron Giant” focuses on the relationship between a giant metal robot and a young boy named Hogarth, who attempts to protect him from government agents who think he’s a foreign threat.
The film, directed by Pixar legend Brad Bird and produced by Warner Animation, has become a classic in the decades since its release. “The Iron Giant” is an incredibly compelling, emotive journey, and one that’s worth revisiting time and time again.
“The Iron Giant” is available to stream on The Roku Channel with ads.
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” explores the growing pains of adolescence and independence.
In “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” young witch Kiki strikes out to find her footing in a new city, as is required of all witches her age. As she settles in and sets up her own delivery service, she learns how to rely on others in her community while also establishing her independence.
Directed by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” lands on the lighter side of the Studio Ghibli canon. That doesn’t mean that it’s any less profound or touching.
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” is available to stream on HBO Max.
“Ice Age” is an extremely funny found-family adventure.
The “Ice Age” is maybe one of the most bizarre, touching found family stories to grace the screen. Bound together by a human baby that must be returned to its family, Manny the woolly mammoth (Ray Romano), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo), and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), reluctantly cooperate and grow close.
This 20th Century Fox classic still stands the test of time and makes for a great family watch.
“Ice Age” is available to stream on Disney+.
“How to Train Your Dragon” is a thrilling Norse adventure epic.
DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon” is an adventure of whimsy, following misfit Viking teen Hiccup as he discovers that it’s easier for him to befriend a dragon than kill one, as is custom in his village. Featuring a stunning score by John Powell, thrilling flight sequences, and a colorful cast of characters, “How to Train Your Dragon” stands out as an animated classic.
“How to Train Your Dragon” is available to stream on Peacock.
“Rise of the Guardians” manages to avoid full holiday camp.
“Rise of the Guardians” follows a group of fantastical figures — Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost — as they try to save children from the nightmare-inducing villain Pitch Black. Rather than fall into campy, patronizing holiday children’s movie territory, however, “Rise of the Guardians” is delightful, imaginative, and surprisingly touching.
“Rise of the Guardians” is available to stream for free with ads on Amazon Prime Video.
“Shrek” is a must-watch classic.
One of the great animated classics of the 21st century, “Shrek” follows the disgruntled, titular ogre who’s unwittingly roped into a rescuing a fairytale princess. Along the way, Shrek and the princess Fiona, who herself is afflicted with a curse that turns her into an ogre at nighttime, fall in love.
Brilliantly written and perfectly voiced, “Shrek” is a must-watch.
“Megamind” is a twist on the Superman story.
“Megamind” stars Will Ferrell as the titular, melodramatic supervillain Megamind, an alien refugee locked into a rivalry with a Superman-like escapee from the same galaxy. When he accidentally kills his rival, however, Megamind finds himself without purpose, eventually creating another superhero just to have someone to fight.
An irreverent and fun twist on the Superman story, “Megamind” features a fantastic performance from Ferrell and delivers an entertaining anti-hero story.
“Megamind” is available to stream on Netflix.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a whimsical, stop-motion classic.
Adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” follows the titular character after he gives up a life of thievery to become a father. Unable to restrain himself when his family moves into a tree close to three farmers, Mr. Fox plunges them back into despair when the farmers come after him.
Witty, mature, and full of charm, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a whimsical watch and a marvel of character design and stop-motion animation.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is available to stream free on YouTube with ads.
“ParaNorman” is a fun stop-motion adventure about witchcraft and adolescence.
“ParaNorman” follows Norman Babcock, a boy with the ability to communicate with ghosts, as he and his friends try to end a witch’s curse placed upon their town. A stop-motion film from the studio Laika, “ParaNorman” is a rumination on loneliness and the challenges of adolescence, wrapped in a witty package.
“ParaNorman” is available to stream free on The Roku Channel with ads.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a visual marvel and a profound origin story.
“Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse” is a stunning animated imagining of the origin story of Miles Morales, one of the Marvel Comics characters who takes on the Spider-Man mantle. When a collider tears open reality, bringing multiple other Spider-people into Miles’ world, he has to come into his own powers and figure out how to send his new friends home.
Featuring stunning, imaginative animation, a delightful ensemble cast, and one of the best film soundtracks in recent memory, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” definitely worth a watch.
“Klaus” is a beautiful Santa Claus origin story.
A reimagining of the Santa Claus story, “Klaus” is a beautifully animated tale about a reluctant postman who teams up with a local, reclusive woodcutter to deliver toys to children. Netflix’s first animated feature, the films hearkens back to the halcyon days of Disney hand-drawn animation — plainly, it’s just unbelievably pleasing to look at.
“Klaus” isn’t just eye candy, though. It’s a thoughtful origin story that lends some emotional heft to the myth of Santa Claus.
“Klaus” is available to stream on Netflix.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is delightfully weird.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is a film about weird kids turning into even weirder adults — and also, tornadoes made of spaghetti. When amateur inventor Flint Lockwood’s water-to-food machine goes out of control, he and meteorologist Sam Sparks have to shut it down to stop food-related weather from destroying the world.
Delightfully bizarre, smart, and creative, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is a fun escape.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is available to stream on Netflix until December 31.
“Chicken Run” is the first film from the studio that made “Wallace and Gromit.”
“Chicken Run” is the first feature film from Aardman Animation, which went on to make “Wallace and Gromit.” The film follows a group of chickens who repeatedly fail to escape a farm where they’re killed and eaten when they can no longer produce eggs. When the farm’s owners decide to change their product from eggs to meat pies, the chickens’ situation becomes more dire.
With engaging stop-motion animation and a hilarious concept, “Chicken Run” is still worth a watch two decades after its release.
“Chicken Run” is available to stream on Peacock.