Here Are The Best Animated Movies Of 2022 So Far – Looper

Here Are The Best Animated Movies Of 2022 So Far – Looper

Few years have offered as wide a range of animated films as 2022, as the year’s releases have presented a variety of styles, themes, and genres ranging from family-friendly to adult-oriented. Much like 2021’s animation selections, there have been nostalgic throwbacks for the child in all of us, original concepts bringing new life to the art form, and ambitiously driven mind-benders to challenge the boundaries of animation. Some have become blockbusters, others seem more likely to go down as cult hits or underappreciated classics.
To celebrate such memorable moments, below is a breakdown of the very best animated films. From super pets to bad guys, the return of Chip ‘n Dale to the debut of a giant red panda, another year of fluctuating Covid-19 regulations brought such stories into homes, theaters, and found a warm reception from an increasingly-varied viewing audience. Below, the standouts that made 2022 a year worth watching cartoons.

The comic book publishing company DC is no stranger to making animated films. In collaboration with Warner Bros. Entertainment, DC has a huge catalogue of animation features stretching back to the mid-’90s. There is even a complete DC Animated Movie Universe that follows the same character crossover approach of Marvel’s MCU. While the tradition of direct-to-video DC cartoons continued in 2022 with “Catwoman: Hunted,” “Green Lantern: Beware My Power,” and “Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons,” its most notable release had nary a biped in sight. 
DC League of Super-Pets” features a team of animal companions attached to classic comic book characters. The 3D computer-animated comedy is based on the “Legion of Super-Pets” and boasts a cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, and Keanu Reeves. Aside from reportedly being the dawn of a new franchise, the animated movie stakes claim to being the first appearance of Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal of Black Adam, slightly over a month before the character received his live-action debut.

For the sake of making a solid pun, “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is a mixed bag of nuts. The Disney+ original movie boldly incorporates multiple film styles, including live-action, traditional 2D animation, and photo-real computer-generated imagery — with some claymation thrown in to really fill the movie’s cheeks. The result of all these mixed formats created a visually dynamic adventure often paralleled as a “spiritual successor” to the beloved 1988 mixed-form feature “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Beyond the movie’s eye-catching styles, “Chip ‘n Dale” offers something for the entire family. The child-friendly story is peppered with references to animation’s long history, rolling audiences down a mountain of nostalgia. Anyone looking for a movie that offers characters from “Transformers,” “South Park,” and “My Little Pony” all in one feature hit the jackpot with “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers.” Meanwhile, the movie headlined by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as the titular characters scooped up the year’s Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.

Although it may not have been a huge critical success, it’s hard to debate the cultural impact of those little yellow guys in the overalls, furthered by “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” 
Regardless of your opinion on the banana-colored creatures, the Minions have become a fan-favorite fictional species for audiences that were introduced to them in 2010’s “Despicable Me.” Now the official mascots of Illumination Entertainment, the yellow pill-shaped beings received their first spin-off movie in 2015. Delayed by Covid-19 for nearly two years, it’s safe to say fans were ready for the second “Minions” movie to debut in 2022.
Aside from becoming one of the top-grossing movies of 2022, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” initiated a viral social media trend. Started by a crew of Australian high school students, teenagers the world over were attending theatrical screenings of the movie dressed in their finest suits. Titling themselves “gentleminions,” teenagers created their own meme subculture that earned recognition from the film’s studio. The internet-steamed excitement made “Minions: The Rise of Gru” a movie worth checking out to discover what the noise was all about — even if you’re watching at home, you might want to get dressed up.

2022 was a strange year for anime, as many of the most anticipated imported features underperformed critically. However, the temporary lull opened the opportunity for “Dragon Ball” to reaffirm its place at the top of the Japanimation food chain. 
Starting life as a manga in 1984, “Dragon Ball” became a worldwide success with its first animated series and successor “Dragon Ball Z.” Since then, the world of powerful martial artists has become a global franchise, covering multiple television programs, specials, and over 20 feature-length films.
As the second film under the “Dragon Ball Super” branding, “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” followed its predecessor in becoming one of the franchise’s most financially successful movies to date. The latest edition to the growing series also holds an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score, outdoing all its predecessors. Much of the acclaim for “Super Hero” is due to an original story that saturates itself in nostalgic fan service. Additionally, it is the first “Dragon Ball” movie to utilize computer animation, as opposed to the traditional 2D format.

Honestly, when Disney+ debuted in late 2019, Netflix could have easily conceded animation supremacy to the dominant studio and thrown in the towel on its entire cartoon department. However, the rival streaming service has since come out strong with animated features such as “The Willoughbys,” “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” and “The Mitchells vs the Machines.” More competitive than ever, in 2022 Netflix released its most viewed original animated film in “The Sea Beast.”
A completely original story from Chris Williams (the director of “Big Hero 6” and “Bolt”), “The Sea Beast” stars Karl Urban as a sailing monster hunter searching for the elusive “Red Bluster.” Meeting an orphaned girl, played by Zaris-Angel Hator, the story voyages into a family-building fantasy epic. Despite its relatively bland title, “The Sea Beast” boasts a respectably high critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a high-seas adventure worth watching with the whole family.

Fans of the Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers” were ecstatic to learn that there would be a full-length feature of the “Animation Domination” show. Unfortunately, they had to wait much longer than anticipated. First announced in October 2017, the original 2020 release date was postponed due to Covid-19 protocols. “We’re not in a hurry to be in theaters,” series creator Loren Bouchard told Collider, “until its really come back, people are going to the movies, and feel safe and comfortable there.” Finally, after five years of waiting, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” received its debut at Hollywood’s El Capitan in May of 2022.
It was worth the wait. Audiences delivered a respectable box office return during the movie’s theatrical run, despite going up against some of the year’s biggest hits, including “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Critically, the musical comedy received praise for its ability to please existing fans while indoctrinating a fresh audience. Most notably, the film maintains the heart and comedy of the original animated series, making “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” a darling watch for families comfortable with its PG-13 rating.

For something completely different from standard animated films, “Entergalactic” breaks the mold visually and conceptually. The movie was designed as a companion piece to Kid Cudi’s full-length album of the same name. Originally released as a series on Netflix, the streaming service later adapted the collection into a full 90-minute feature to coincide with the studio album’s debut in September 2022. While Kid Cudi believes it could be possible that “Entergalactic” may receive more chapters in the future, it currently works as a full-length film for audiences to devour in a single seating.
Offering the look and feel of the game-changing “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” the animation for “Entergalactic” goes above and beyond. Animators built a 3D model of New York City by downloading Google Maps into their pipeline (per Cartoon Brew), making the city streets an accurate representation. Meanwhile, the story is an urban romance taking inspiration from movies like “When Harry Met Sally.” “Entergalactic” also offers a surprising number of stars on its cast list, including Cudi, Timothée Chalamet, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jaden Smith. Reception for the feature has been unanimously positive, receiving high ratings from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

There simply are not enough movies in the heist genre. Any film with a collection of skilled thieves and outlaws collaborating their way to an elaborate robbery scheme, akin to “Ocean’s Eleven,” is a welcome addition to movie history — especially an animated feature appropriate for the whole family. It is no wonder “The Bad Guys” rocketed its way to becoming the second-highest-grossing animated film for 2022 behind only the meme-worthy “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”
If fan-favorite movie characters like Darth Vader and Thanos have proven anything, it is that villains are often more interesting than their heroic opposition. “The Bad Guys” is built upon a platform of success. Add in a cast that includes Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, and Craig Robinson, and the movie is a natural pick to fill audience’s time. Although critics were slightly more finicky with their response to “The Bad Guys,” public opinion of the movie is overwhelmingly positive, as proven by its Rotten Tomatoes audience score. An original concept is always a breath of fresh air — hopefully, it doesn’t get bogged down in the future by multiple spin-offs and sequels.

A Mount Rushmore of animation would arguably include the faces of Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki, Ralph Bakshi, and Matt Groening. However, there could be a case to be made for filmmaker Richard Linklater
The director of films like “Dazed and Confused” and “School of Rock” exploded minds and changed the game of American animation in previous decades with his groundbreaking rotoscope features “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly.” With his last animated movie released more than 15 years ago, Linklater fans were delighted to see “Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood.”
Released on Netflix, “Apollo 10 ½” is an adult-oriented drama that explores the life of the first man to land on the surface of the moon. Flashing a cast led by Jack Black, the film explores how a childhood dream of going to space becomes a reality. Or does it? Like Linklater’s previous animations, the coming-of-age feature utilizes a rotoscoping technique — where animation is traced from live-action film. Unsurprisingly, “Apollo 10 ½” makes an honest challenge for the best-animated film of 2022, thanks to its refreshing, inspired spirit.

Oh boy. Who would have thought after the dynamic dim-witted duo “Beavis and Butt-Head” premiered on television screens in 1993 that decades later audiences would still be talking about them? What started as a lowbrow MTV-commissioned animated series (primarily commenting on music videos) dug its way into the collective culture; while the satirical series had a failed resurgence in 2011, “Beavis and Butt-Head” made a more glorious return in 2022, returning to television and releasing a full-length feature movie, “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe.”
Astonishingly, the sequel to 1996’s “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” went beyond being a gift to clamoring fans looking for service from their favorite pair of teenage idiots; instead, it became a critical smash hit unto itself. The movie takes the titular characters through a journey in time, transporting them from 1998 to modern day. Encountering parallel versions of themselves and running from the government along their way, “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” is surprisingly self-aware while offering a narrative on how the world has changed.

Those searching for the most heart-warming, adorably comforting film of 2022 need to watch “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.” Based on a series of shorts, everyone from uncompromising grandmothers to the most rambunctious toddlers will quickly fall in love with Marcel, who happens to be a one-eyed shell… with shoes on. The full-length feature, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is a mockumentary-style comedy created using a stop motion technique that involves every possible trinket from a standard American household. After winning hearts at the Telluride Film Festival in 2021, the movie earned a nationwide release in July 2022.
The story follows Marcel, an abandoned adolescent shell, on a search for his community that was lost before the documentary begins. Accompanied only by his aging grandma and new documentarian best friend, Marcel overcomes insurmountable odds in a world that is far larger than he ever anticipated. The film stars “Marcel the Shell” creators Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp and scooped up a Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. One of the best-reviewed movies of the year, “Marcel the Shell” is as quirky as it is downright lovable.

As if contractually obligated to release a hit movie annually, Pixar knocked another one out of the park in 2022. Debuting on Disney+ in March 2022, “Turning Red” quickly became a bright, colorful spot in the year’s most notable releases. Boasting a multicultural cast, the movie is celebrated for making unconventional choices like being set in an Asian-populated part of urban Canada. Meanwhile, the story forms itself around a theme that is historically and dangerously underrepresented by media, feminine puberty.
While the film did receive negative backlash calling its bold selections “unrelatable,” thankfully, the heart of the plot managed to shine through. 
“This is a coming of age film, everyone goes through that change,” lead-actress Rosalie Chiang told CBC News, “I think different people of different cultures are going to go through it differently, but at the end of the day, the core messiness and change is something everyone can relate to.” Breaking the mold, “Turning Red” established itself amongst Pixar’s elite filmography, ranking high among the year’s best-animated features.

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