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Top 10 Best 3D Animation Movies of All Time

ben marvazi 2020

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Ranking The Best 3D Animation Movies

Welcome to our celebration of the most incredible 3D animation movies of all time.

In the world of cinema, 3D animation has been a game-changer, bringing to life stories and characters in a way that captures the imagination of audiences globally. 

These films are not just feats of technological prowess; they are masterpieces of storytelling, art, and emotion.

a minion dropping a microphone

Cover GIF via GIPHY

This blog revisits the top 10 best 3D animation movies of all time. Each movie on our list has made a significant impact. They've pushed boundaries, set new standards, and delighted viewers of all ages. 

From the pioneering steps of 'Toy Story' to the cultural richness of 'Moana,' these films have contributed to the tapestry of the film industry in unique and enduring ways.

1. Toy Story (1995)

When talking about pioneers in 3D animation movies, 'Toy Story' is a name that stands tall. 

Released in 1995, it wasn't just the first fully computer-animated feature film; it was a revolution in storytelling and technology. Pixar, with its innovative PhotoRealistic RenderMan software, brought to life a world that was both enchanting and visually stunning. 

The complex character movements combined with the meticulous integration of lighting and shadows set a new benchmark in animation.

Buzz and Woody from Toy Story


But the magic of 'Toy Story' wasn't just in its technical prowess. The film's storytelling techniques – witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a timeless coming-of-age story – resonated deeply with audiences of all ages. 

'Toy Story' was more than a movie; it was a cultural phenomenon that paved the way for future 3D animation movies, showing the world the limitless potential of this new form of storytelling.

2. Shrek (2001)

In 2001, 'Shrek' burst onto the scene and immediately redefined what 3D animation movies could be. This film took the traditional fairy tale format and turned it on its head with irreverent humor and a layered storyline. 

'Shrek' was a bold statement in the world of cinema, proving that animated films could be smart, funny, and appeal to both kids and adults.

Shrek from the movie Shrek sighing

GIF by DreamWorks Animation via GIPHY

The success of 'Shrek' was monumental. It won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, a testament to its innovation and impact. Commercially, it was a juggernaut, grossing over $484 million worldwide and laying the groundwork for a successful franchise. 

3. Inside Out (2015)

Pixar's 'Inside Out' is a testament to how 3D animation movies can resonate on a global scale. Released to critical and commercial acclaim, this movie went beyond the confines of American studios to capture the hearts of audiences worldwide. 

What set 'Inside Out' apart was Pixar's dedication to cultural sensitivity. The studio made thoughtful adjustments for various international audiences, altering specific jokes, cultural references, and even character details to ensure relevance and avoid potential cultural misunderstandings

four characters from the movie Inside Out gasping

GIF by Disney via GIPHY

The film's success is evident in its impressive box office numbers, grossing over $858 million worldwide, and its performance in diverse markets like China, the UK, and Mexico. 

It didn't just win hearts; it won awards, including an Academy Award, underscoring its status as an international sensation in the world of 3D animation movies.

4. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

'How to Train Your Dragon,' released in 2010, stands out as a visual masterpiece in the realm of 3D animation movies. 

This film pushed the boundaries of what was technically possible in animation, especially in its depiction of vast landscapes and exhilarating dragon flight sequences. 

The use of particle effects and advanced lighting techniques created a world that was both fantastical and remarkably realistic.

the boy and the dragon from How To Train Your Dragon interacting for the first time

GIF by How To Train Your Dragon via GIPHY

The technological innovations behind 'How to Train Your Dragon' are noteworthy. The development of new software for simulating wind, fire, and water particles resulted in animation that felt alive and dynamic.

It's a film that not only showcased the potential of 3D animation movies in creating stunning visuals but also in telling profound and engaging stories.

5. Despicable Me (2010)

In 2010, 'Despicable Me' emerged as a beloved family favorite, marking its place in the pantheon of great 3D animation movies. 

This film struck a perfect balance between humor and heart, telling the story of a reformed supervillain, Gru, and his heartwarming journey with his adopted daughters.

Agnes from Despicable Me slapping her cheeks


The true charm of 'Despicable Me' lies in its unique blend of humor, exemplified by the Minions, whose slapstick comedy delighted audiences of all ages. 

'Despicable Me' wasn't just a commercial success; it became a cultural phenomenon. Its appeal across generations and its blend of humor and emotion have cemented its status as a family favorite in the world of 3D animation movies.

6. The Lego Movie (2014)

'The Lego Movie,' released in 2014, stands out as a remarkable underdog story in the 3D animation movies list. 

This movie took the familiar concept of Lego bricks and transformed it into a vibrant, dynamic universe filled with humor and creativity. 

Its innovative use of CGI animation to mimic the look and feel of actual Lego constructions was not just visually inventive but also narratively engaging. The film skillfully subverts typical animated movie tropes with its meta-humor and self-aware narrative.

the protagonist from The Lego Movie wiggling his shoulders


It's a story that appeals to both children and adults, blending a clever, entertaining plot with a whimsical world that sparks the imagination.

7. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

'Kung Fu Panda,' released in 2008, is a brilliant example of 3D animation movies that successfully launches a franchise. 

This DreamWorks Animation production blended martial arts action, slapstick humor, and heartwarming themes to create a unique and captivating cinematic experience. 

master shifu and Po from Kung Foo Panda exercising

GIF by DreamWorks Animation via GIPHY

The influence of 'Kung Fu Panda' extended beyond the movie theater. It spawned two sequels, a television series, and video games, expanding the Kung Fu Panda universe and cementing its status as a beloved franchise. 

8. WALL-E (2008)

In 2008, 'WALL-E' emerged as a shining example of storytelling prowess in 3D animation movies. 

This Pixar masterpiece told a largely dialogue-free story, focusing instead on the emotional journey of a lonely robot and his quest for companionship. Its exploration of themes like environmentalism and the need for connection resonated deeply with audiences, making it a standout film in animation history.

'WALL-E' is a testament to the power of animation in telling meaningful and touching stories. Its success lies in its ability to connect with audiences on a deeper level, using the medium of 3D animation movies to explore and express ideas that resonate with people of all ages. 

Wall-E and Eve from the movie Wall-E spinning through space

GIF by Disney Pixar via GIPHY

9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,' released in 2018 is a groundbreaking achievement in the world of 3D animation movies. 

This movie revolutionized comic book animation with its unique visual style, blending traditional hand-drawn techniques with advanced CGI to create a stunning, immersive experience. Its innovative approach to animation has set a new standard for the genre.

Winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, this movie has been recognized as a landmark achievement in animation. It's a film that has redefined what is possible in 3D animation movies, proving that the medium can be as powerful and impactful as any live-action movie.

the pig from Spiderman Into The Spiderverse giving away his hammer


10. Moana (2016)

'Moana,' released in 2016, stands as a modern classic in the realm of 3D animation movies. 

This film is a celebration of Polynesian culture, brought to life through vibrant animation and unique water effects. The movie's innovative approach to depicting the textures and dynamics of the ocean set a new benchmark in visual storytelling.

What truly sets 'Moana' apart is its powerful narrative centered around a strong female protagonist. 

Moana's journey of self-discovery and courage is not just a story of adventure; it's an empowering tale that resonates with audiences, especially young girls.

Maui from Moana showing a thumbs-up to Moana

GIF by Moana via GIPHY

The film's focus on heritage, bravery, and exploration is both inspiring and culturally significant.

Get Inspired By the Best 3D Animation Movies

Our journey through the top 10 best 3D animation movies of all time has been a celebration of innovation, creativity, and storytelling. 

From the pioneering genius of 'Toy Story' to the cultural richness of 'Moana,' each film on this list has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. 

These movies have not only entertained us but have also pushed the boundaries of what is possible in animation, inspiring future generations of filmmakers and animators.

a rocket flying through space

GIF by Ross Norton via GIPHY

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today.

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