Home Cartoon movies Best Animated Movies of the 90s, Ranked

Best Animated Movies of the 90s, Ranked


The 90s are one of the most influential sources of nostalgia in modern pop culture. It was a time of transition for media – technology began to propel animation forward, and the decade gave way to some of the most recognizable fictional characters of all time. It was a simpler time: Disney shows were goldmines, Saturday morning cartoons were sacred, and kids couldn’t wait to get home and pop their favorite movie into the VHS player.

In terms of the best films of the 90s, it was an unforgettable decade for animation. As computer animation began to blossom and creators found more effective ways to turn storyboards into immersive experiences, we saw a slew of incredible films that are still popular today. Let’s revisit some of the best animated movies of the 90s and see how they stack up.

Related: Best 80s Animated Movies, Ranked

space jam

At one point, you might not have believed that animation and live action could mix on screen. Walk in space jam! Released in 1996, we see Michael Jordan as he chooses to retire from his illustrious basketball career. However, things take an unexpected turn when the Looney Tunes win and beg his help in a basketball game against a team of alien monsters. The premise is as far-fetched as it gets, and the way the creators lean into the chaos is honestly spot-on.

The beauty and the Beast

A tale as old as time, The beauty and the Beast is one of the most endearing love stories in animated history, and we’ve all seen it again and again since its release in 1991. Unbeknownst to the prince-turned-dumb, the charming Belle yearns for more than sedentary life in his small hometown. When Belle volunteers to take her father’s place as a prisoner of the Beast in an enchanted castle, the two gradually build a friendship that will blossom into true love, strong enough to break a decades-old curse.

The Prince of Egypt

Something about the 1998 animation style The Prince of Egypt makes us catch our breath again. This fascinating take on the story of Moses is presented in a new light: we see him growing up as the adoptive brother of Ramses, who will inherit the kingdom of Egypt. Their relationship is at the forefront of the story, and we see them take different paths as Moses begins to fight for the freedom of the Jewish people.

perfect blue

A more adult entry on the list, perfect blue came out in 1997 and left audiences captivated and bewildered for years. We meet Mima, a J-pop idol who is going through an identity crisis after starting a rocky acting career. When some of her colleagues are murdered, she realizes that her mental instability may be affecting her more than she lets on. The mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end, and seeing Mima reclaim his own is a victory we can all appreciate.


Long confused as part of the Disney Princess List, 1997 Anastasia is actually a Don Bluth film that focuses on the young Grand Duchess of Russia. Young Anastasia barely escapes a curse from the sorcerer Rasputin, though she develops amnesia in her attempt to break out of the palace; at 18, she goes on an adventure to find her long-lost family. Our titular heroine is absolutely adorable, and her coming-of-age story is filled with heart, genuine love, and a dazzling animation style.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton fans can explain the unbridled fun and whimsy of the 1993 holiday movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. We first meet Pumpkin King Jack in Halloweentown after a big party, but quickly learn he’s disenchanted with his predictable lifestyle. When he mistakenly wanders into Christmastown, he falls in love and decides to take charge of the holiday for himself. His fellow Halloween harbingers get involved in the festivities, and it’s impossible not to sing along to their songs. The claymation is truly charming, and the creepy denizens of Halloweentown are surprisingly wholesome.

Related: 5 Best Tim Burton Movies, Ranked

toy story

toy story was a milestone for Pixar in 1995, and it continues to be a fan favorite around the world. Of all the toys in young Andy’s room, Woody was always the favorite – until Buzz Lightyear showed up. After they go missing, we follow Woody and Buzz as they travel home before moving day. The voice cast is nothing short of phenomenal, and many of the franchise’s most quoted moments come from this film.

Princess Mononoke

It’s hard to pick a favorite Studio Ghibli movie, but the one from 1997 Princess Mononoke is easily one of the best. Prince Ashitaka finds himself cursed by a demon while defending his village, and he quickly ventures west in hopes of finding a cure. Along the way, he encounters many unforgettable characters, including the namesake wolf princess herself. The film offers a crucial lesson in deforestation and neglect of the planet, and Ashitaka’s relationship with San is nothing short of wonderful.

The iron giant

Although it performed poorly at the box office, The iron giant is now a beloved classic that took viewers on an adventurous emotional roller coaster when it was released in 1999. The story features Hogarth Hughes, a bright young boy who befriends a massive alien robot during war cold. It doesn’t take long at all for the Iron Giant to wow viewers, and the ending is still enough to leave us in tears. No wonder he was nominated for so many awards!

The Lion King

Is there anyone who wouldn’t start following the opening notes of “Circle of Life” in The Lion King? This 1994 Disney rendition of Hamlet has it all – a rich and colorful world populated by memorable characters, an engrossing story, a gorgeous soundtrack, and voice talent for days on end. Watching young Simba as he struggles to come to terms with the death of his father to finally return home as the king his pride needs still gives us chills.

Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange: Things to know before watching Multiverse of Madness

Read more

About the Author