Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by April
When you are in the mood to watch cinematic art, these are the best animated movies for adults- including works by Tim Burton and more!
Who says cartoons are just for kids? There are lots of animated movies with adult themes that are actually better for adults. The artwork and scripts in the movies are often so spectacular, that you only start to appreciate them as you get older.
The Best Animated Movies For Adults To Watch
What are your favorite things about animated movies? If it is the artwork or storylines, then these are the movies that should be on your list. They are masterpieces that will either take your breath away or wrap you up in a whole new world of imagination.
Some of the movies on this list are emotional and heart-wrenching. Others are more lighthearted and whimsical. Browse each movie and pick out which ones fit your current mood!
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This movie is a Tim Burton classic. It was created in 1993 with laborious stop-action photography. People describe this as an animated musical dark fantasy film, which is pretty accurate.
This movie tells the story of Jack Skellington, a man that looks like a skeleton that lives in Halloween Town. When he is bored with the same ritual of scaring people in the real world, he discovers Christmastown. The movie follows his misadventures as he tries to bring Christmas to Halloweentown and has a feel-good ending.
If you are into catchy songs and breathtaking artwork, then this movie should be on your must-watch list.
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Fans of Japanese anime and post-apocalyptic themes will really get into Akira. This animated film was created in 1988 and is definitely a classic anime film.
The really fun thing is that this movie was made in the 80s but is set in a dystopian 2019. In this movie, Shōtarō Kaneda is a leader of a biker gang and he tries to save his friend Tetsuo from a secret government project.
Anyone that really enjoys sci-fi and end-of-the-world themes will enjoy this movie.
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Fantasia is a Disney classic film that doesn’t just tell one story but, it marries classic music with Disney animation in a spectacular way! It was released back in 1940 but is still enjoyed by people to this day.
This film doesn’t have any dialogue between characters. It’s a beautiful blending of animated imagery with classical music. It is the perfect thing to watch if you want something artistic without a plot you have to follow.
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4. Sausage Party
Fans of adult humor will really enjoy Seth Rogan’s 2016 movie Sausage Party. Full of dark humor – like the violent death of vegetables – and sexual jokes, this movie is perfect for adults.
In Sausage Party, you will follow the experiences of food at a grocery store as they go from the store to a customer’s house. Everything to Frank the Sausage (Seth Rogan) is idealistic and happy until he realizes the terrifying truth – he is doomed to become a meal for the human.
With tons of raunchy jokes that are better for adults than kids, you’ll watch the supermarket food try to escape humans in this hilarious comedy.
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5. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Directed by Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a film made in 2009 with amazing voice talent from George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray. It’s based on the book The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl and follows the struggles of Mr. Fox between his animal instincts and the promise he made his wife.
This is a stop-action animated film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
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6. Grave of the Fireflies
Another anime from the 1980s, Grave Of The Fireflies is a war tragedy based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical story by Akiyuki Nosaka. At only 1 hour and 33 minutes, this movie is a shorter animated film that portrays real human emotion in a genuine way.
You will watch as Seita – a teenager in charge of taking care of his younger sister – becomes separated from their parents during World War II. This is a tale of survival that will grip your heart.
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7. Spirited Away
If you want to watch an uplifting fairy tale instead, the anime Spirited Away is perfect!
This will take you out of your ordinary day as you enjoy the story of a little 10-year-old girl who stumbles upon an abandoned amusement park with her parents. After her parents are turned into pigs, she discovers that this is a resort for supernatural beings that want a break from their time on earth. Now, she has to work there in order to free herself and her parents.
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8. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
This movie is a must-see for fans of the show South Park. It has all the same jokes and characters that you love from the 90s, but with even more jokes and hilarity!
This was made in 1999. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time! It’s actually a musical. The main characters that we all love (Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny) sneak into an R-rated film and come out with expanded vocabularies that greatly upset their teachers and parents. It spins out of control and becomes a call to war with Canada!
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9. The Simpsons Movie
Every fan of The Simpsons should watch this movie. It was made in 2007 and is basically everything you love about The Simpsons (including another ear-worm, “Spide Pig!”).
Homer’s misadventures don’t just threaten his family. This time, the entire world depends on Homer to save it. In the process, he is also trying to earn Marge’s forgiveness.
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10. Princess Mononoke
Made in 1997, this anime is a fantasy-horror film with dark themes that are better for older teens and adults.
This movie follows the struggle of gods dealing with how humans are ravaging the earth. A boy named Ashitaka becomes infected after an animal attack. While he is seeking a cure, he also tries to bring peace between the wolf god and humans. In all of the fantastic animation and storytelling, it has a good message about humanity’s responsibility to care for the earth.
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A more recent animated movie is Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa. This was made in 2015 and uses stop-motion photography. This is an Acadamy Award-nominated film that many consider a visual achievement.
The story is just as amazing as the animation. It tells the story of a lonely customer service agent who sees everyone as identical until he meets a unique woman in a Cincinnati hotel. You will experience a story about relatable themes – loneliness and alienation – all mixed in with dry humor. It’s a very psychologically deep film, so be ready to chat about it with someone after you watch it.
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Another heart-gripping film about a child’s experience in a war is Persepolis. This black and white movie was released in 2008. It tells the gripping story about an outspoken Iranian girl who grows up during the Islamic Revolution that happened in the 1970s.
The gripping thing about this movie is that it is biographical. It’s based on the Marjane Satrapi autobiographical graphic novel of the same time.
It’s a shorter film – at just 1 hour and 36 minutes – but it will leave you with a lot to discuss.
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13. Yellow Submarine
If you are a fan of animated movies, then you should watch Yellow Submarine at least once. The Beatles created this classic film back in 1968 and it is still loved by people of all ages to this day.
It’s an imaginative (and slightly trippy) story of the Beatles as they fight the Blue Meanies. Sing along with the songs you grew up listening to and cheer them on as they make new friends and bring peace and harmony to the world.
It is called a “psychedelic animated movie” that almost everyone considers timeless. It doesn’t age. Even if you aren’t familiar with The Beatles or their songs, this is still a really fun movie to watch as an adult.
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14. Inside Out
Disney and Pixar’s 2015 animated film was marketed to children, but it has psychological themes that adults will appreciate too. It’s a comedy that will have you tearing up at the end! This movie follows a young girl named Riley and the emotions that live in her head (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness).
The relatable themes of how to process the darker emotions and not just cover them up with fake happiness is something that everyone – even adults – will appreciate and enjoy.
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Finally, the 2009 dark fantasy horror film is actually so dark that I think it’s better for adults than kids. When I say it’s a horror movie, I’m not overexaggerating. The mother in this movie is so creepy that the images will replay in your mind long after the movie is over.
This film follows a young girl named Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) who discovers an alternate world that mirrors her own, but seems better than her life. The creepy thing is that Other Mother tries to keep her there forever. It has a deeper theme of appreciating what you have instead of wanting what you don’t, but getting there is a trip.
Watch Coraline on
When you are looking for animated movies for adults, any of the ones on this list are going to be perfect. Some of them are darker, others will have you laughing or singing along. All of the movies on this list are works of art and deserve to be on this list because they are definitely animation classics.
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