10 Non-Disney Films That Deserve Academy Awards

Words by Kathlene Masilongan

I absolutely adore animated films. Give me an animated film over a pretentious fake-deep aesthetic film any day.

Animation has the power to transport you to worlds you’ll never see anywhere else. While filmmaking has advanced over the years, there’s something animation can do that “traditional” cinema can’t. Even though we attempt to trick the eye with CGI, there’s only so much it can do. Meanwhile, the possibilities with animation are endless.

Did you know that ever since 2012, all the animated films that were awarded at the Oscars were from Disney or its subsidiary company Pixar? That’s seven whole years of them taking home that little golden man. However, this Disney spell was broken recently by Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I could talk about Spider-Verse all day if you’d let me because let’s be honest it was the best film that was released in the last year, but today I’m here to talk about the other unsung animated heroes of our time that didn’t get to snag the celebrated award.

10. The Land Before Time

The Land Before Time 1988

If we hold on together… This timeless classic is the stuff of a lot of our childhoods. The first film came out in 1988 and has since grown into a fourteen-movie franchise with an animated series, too! I still prefer the OG first film, but this is what my childhood was made of! My interest in archeology and dinosaurs, in general, was built on these films.

9. Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs 2018

It’s a film about an island of dogs, what more could you possibly want? I wasn’t expecting this film to leave such an impression on me, especially since stop motion isn’t really my thing and I hate dog movies. But this one was unique in its premise. I won’t talk much about the culture aspect and all that jazz, but you have to watch this film.

8. How to Train Your Dragon

How To Train Your Dragon

One word: wholesome. And dragons! I won’t lie to you and say that I didn’t cry watching all of these How To Train Your Dragon movies, because I did. There’s something about odd-ball underdogs rising to their full potential that always tugs on the heartstrings. This is probably my second favorite film from DreamWorks (the first is also on this list).

7. Anomalisa

Anomalisa 2015

Animation isn’t just for children. It’s for everyone and it could definitely be for adults, Anomalisa proves it. It’s eerie and slow, unfamiliar but very familiar at the same time. The fact that it tackles people’s issues when they become adults is something I think a lot of us can relate to. Some people who’ve watched this are still recovering so be warned! This comes from the mind of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman so it’s a little topsy turvy and confusing, but apparently easier to follow than a lot of his other films.

6. The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt 1998

While The Prince of Egypt’s iconic song “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey did win an Academy Award, the film itself didn’t bag the award and I just want to know why! This film was magical and life-changing. The number of times its made me cry while watching it as an adult is… a lot. This isn’t even coming from a religious standpoint whatsoever. Films are supposed to make you feel things and this made me, and everyone else I know, all of the things!

5. Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings

This is an animation feat! Watching the behind the scenes of this and comparing it to the actual movie, your mind is going to be blown with the amount of work and creativity that was put into making this. That alone deserves an award! Sadly, it was released at the same time as block-buster hits Moana and Zootopia so it was kind of hidden from all of us, including me. It still deserves the award though! At least in my heart.

4. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howls Moving Castle

In my opinion, half of the Ghibli films deserve an academy award! While Spirited Away did snatch the Best Animated Feature award in 2002, none of the Ghibli films that followed came close to being nominated. Howl’s Moving Castle is one such film that takes an audience into its world. One minute you think you’re sitting on your couch and the next thing you know you’re surrounded by magical creatures. This is one of those films that people keep for rainy days. This is what I was talking about when I was talking about how animation has no limits.

3. The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant is such a classic animated film from a lot of our childhoods again. It’s wholesome and probably made someone (me) cry when they watched it. For a movie about a lost robot, it has so much heart and soul in it. It’s been decades since this was released and people still put it in their favorite movies lists and it’s for a good reason! If you haven’t watched The Iron Giant, I highly recommend sitting with it and just absorbing it.

2. Coraline


I feel like Coraline is such a creepy cartoon classic that my mind always thought that it was released in the 90s. However, this film was released in 2009 and is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. More than its very relatable and heartwarming story, the animation of this, especially for the era that it was released, was so clean. Even now, when I catch it on TV, I stop to watch it because it’s just so good that you can’t peel your eyes away from it. Again, it’s the power of animation to create words that are similar but very different from ours that makes it a powerful medium.

1. Your Name

Your Name 2016

You saw this coming. If you didn’t, why? It blew my mind when I found out that one of the highest grossing animated films of all time didn’t even get to step on the Best Animated Features nominations list for the year it was released. Not only did this make all of us cry, which is how I obviously judge films, but it’s just so beautiful in all aspects. Watching this film takes us to a time and place where everything was a lot simpler, a little bit slower and down to earth. The evolution of anime art styles has been questioned by a lot of people, but this brought us back to the childhood cartoons we grew up with. It’s simple but polished as a result of today’s technological advancements. And the plot? The plot made this a masterpiece.

How about you? Which non-Disney animated film do you feel deserves an Academy Award?