Let’s be honest here: Disney kind of stacked the deck in their favor in 2021, releasing five animated films under their ever-expanding umbrella, which now includes 20th Century Studios. Not only did four of those movies make it into the top 10 of the year, but Raya and the Last Dragon impressed critics enough to walk away with the Golden Tomato. It wasn’t all just Disney, though. The top five had room for surprising entries like the striking animated documentary Flee, about a Danish refugee from Afghanistan sharing his story, and Demon Slayer: The Movie, a feature-length continuation of the global hit anime series. Despite a lackluster year at the box office, 2021 proves that animation continues to thrive as a medium for some of the most creative storytelling in the movies.
The order reflects Tomatometer scores (as of December 31, 2021) after adjustment from our ranking formula, which compensates for variation in the number of reviews when comparing movies or TV shows.
Adjusted Score: 108596%
Critics Consensus: Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio’s increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.
Adjusted Score: 107261%
Critics Consensus: Eye-catching and energetic, The Mitchells vs. the Machines delivers a funny, feel-good story that the whole family can enjoy.
Adjusted Score: 105712%
Critics Consensus: Slight but suffused with infectious joy, the beguiling Luca proves Pixar can play it safe while still charming audiences of all ages.
Adjusted Score: 104740%
Critics Consensus: Depicting the refugee experience through vivid animation, Flee pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking to present a moving memoir of self-discovery.
Adjusted Score: 98758%
Critics Consensus: Demon Slayer‘s visually stunning animation and masterful action set pieces serve a heartfelt plot that is sure to satisfy fans.
Adjusted Score: 99790%
Critics Consensus: Encanto‘s setting and cultural perspective are new for Disney, but the end result is the same — enchanting, beautifully animated fun for the whole family.
Adjusted Score: 90562%
Critics Consensus: Vivo offers few surprises, but this attractively animated adventure is enlivened by the catchy songs contributed by star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Adjusted Score: 84630%
Critics Consensus: It isn’t the first animated film to confront technology creep, but in terms of striking an entertaining balance between humor and heart, Ron’s Gone Wrong gets it right.
Adjusted Score: 79756%
Critics Consensus: No job’s too big and no pup’s too small for PAW Patrol: The Movie, which should give its youthful target demographic exactly what they’re looking for.
Adjusted Score: 77932%
Critics Consensus: With a hard fantasy story that stands in service of its eye-catching animation, The Spine of Night is a distinctive treat for genre enthusiasts.