Since I had my bag fruitless searches for good animated feature films (yeah, Shrek #1, sure), here’s my list. For me animation generally = hand drawn animation, so if you’re looking for soulless CGI bollocks look somewhere else.
♥ = nice!
→ = search Youtube for trailer (embedding makes no sense since they tend to get deleted).
~ A–Z ~
Yes, anime and other animation in one list! Studio Ghibli, Studio 4°C and Satoshi Kon have their own sections further down (I have no idea why). Contrary to the stupid SEO-style title there are also movies in there that suck badly (and as you can see they aren’t ranked, either).
A Certain Magical Index: Endyumion’s Miracle (2013) – I mostly enjoyed the spin-offs of the series this is based on, Railgun and Railgun S, and compared to that this is a really mediocre movie (and the sexism has been turned up quite a notch). Also awful Jpop. Go for Railgun S. →
Arrugas aka Wrinkles (2011) – While I do think we need more media staring older people, I really didn’t care about the shenanigans of a retired bank clerk and some other dude in a retirement home. I guess if you liked The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (which I equally despised) this might be for you. →
Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) – Long time since I watched this, liked it back then but it’s probably shit. School uniform fetish, anyone? (and stay away from Blood C The Last Dark, it’s even worse than the stupid title suggests). →
Blue Exorcist The Movie (2012) – While this is beautifully done and I enjoy the world and the monsters, there are loooooong stretches where absolutely nothing is happening (if you don’t know the series, I guess, otherwise watching these people playing baseball is rather fascinating, I imagine). Also fucking fanservice lady outfits. →
Bodacious Space Pirates – Abyss of Hyperspace 2014 – After the events of the TV series Marika and her friends help a boy to lift the mystery behind his father’s disappearance. While I do like all the female characters (hacker girl!) and the evil NSA/corporate conglomerate villain, the actual story wasn’t very interesting and full of tired old tropes (I’m a young boy in bed with a hot older girl! I hate my father because he was so cool and never around!). →
Brendan and the Secret of Kells (2009)
This just might be my favorite movie ever. Beautifully stylized drawings, dreamlike OST by Bruno Coulais, medieval setting (if you don’t blink, you can see some PoC monks!), typography. Wow. ♥ →
Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below aka Journey to Agartha (2011)
Yes, that title sucks badly and the gender-stereotypes are strong in this one. If you want badass female characters that don’t need rescuing all the time you need to look elsewhere. Still entertaining if awkwardly pathed. My German review is here. →
Corpse Bride (2005) – If you are – unlike me – not bored to death by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp by now, … watch the short Vincent instead which is much better and feels like real claymation and not like „claymation made so perfect/sterile it’s like 3D“. Hate the ending, too, can we please for ONCE have a movie that doesn’t do the fucking Hero’s Journey? →
Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (2004) – Ouch. m(
Fears of the Dark (2007)
A collection of short films with one or two are good contributions (the ones by Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire/Pierre di Sciullo? Charles Burn’s part is pretty standard, unfortunately). →
Fullmetal Alchemist The Sacred Star of Milos (2012) – FMA was on this anime list from The Mary Sue and while I didn’t hook up on the series this movie is quite entertaining (can’t ever have enough revolution stories) and it has prominent female characters. You did good for a shitty movie adaption, FMA-movie. →
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015) – Lol, sureley that can’t be the official title, right? Unfortunately it is and you can conclude how good this movie is from that innovative title (not at all). This is a mix of political intrigue I don’t care about and over the top action I’m bored by. Gone are the mesmerizing quiet parts from the previous movies that I enjoyed. It’s also really jarring that Kusanagi is the Smurfette of the team. →
Giovanni’s Island (2014) – Visually impressive this movie tells the story of Japanese children on the island Shikota that gets occupied by the russians after WWII … Someone likes Night on the Galactic Railroad … →
Hotarubi no Mori e / Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light (2011)
Nice, simple short film, watch it. German Review here. ♥ →
Hal a.k.a. Haru (2013)
While this is really beautiful (cept for the main dude) the story is really boring up until the ending which is kinda nice. The old women are rad.
Kérity, la maison des contes aka Eleanor’s Secret (2009) – The style is
fresh not too bad but the story didn’t interest me at all, a boy has trouble learning to read, literary characters are coming to life, he’s The Chosen One m ( →
Le Jour des Corneilles aka The Day of the Crows (2012) – I was looking forward to this but it’s quite a mess. A (kind of) feral child story with a traumatized father but that’s not important because in the end they just decided not even trying to tell a coherent story. →
Library War – Wings of Revolution (2012) – A movie where some kind of military group booklovers fights against some government cencorship police? That sounds so way out, it should be awesome but it’s actually really bad, boring as hell and full of sexist tropes. Avoid.
Magic Tree House (2011) – A somewhat educational children’s movie in which two siblings travel to (obviously only western) historical & literal places by means of a magic tree house. It’s very generic and has awful, awful character design. →
Majokko Shimai no Yoyo to Nene aka Witch Sisters Yoyo and Nene (2013)
Hey, another anime that I liked better than most things Ghibli has done in the last ten years! Magic, ass kicking ladies, stunning backgrounds, cool creatures what more do you want (better character design …)? ♥ →
Neon Genesis Evangelion Movies (2007–?) – These fuckers are actually proud of their
fanservicesexism? EDIT: Or maybe not? If you can cope with that you get suberb animation and an, um, „interesting“? story. →
Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (2009) – I remember kinda looking forward to seeing this (why?) and then being pretty disappointed. →
Onigamiden – Legend of the Millennium Dragon (2011) – Horrible, horrible character design, bad animation, terrible editing, totally counterproductive soundtrack and a story that doesn’t make any sense. Avoid. →
Patema Inverted (2013)
While the main characters are a huge disappointment (well, hello Generic Anime Guy and Damsel in Distress, haven’t seen you in the last two seconds, is it time again?) the pretty interesting setting of inverted gravities makes up for that (also yay for massive plot-twist). If you want to, there’s also a really cute (but obviously very tragic) gay lovestory in there. What? Oh, they’re only „sharing a vision“? Yeah. Sure. →
Patlabor – The Movie (1989) – This reminded me a lot of Mamoru Oshii’s first GitS movie (1995) but it’s more lo-fi, pretty boring and with comedy elemets that aren’t funny. There’s also the shitty way bland asshole protag treats Noa Izumi (who kicked so much ass in the grand finale!). Akin to the quiet parts in Ghost in the Shell this has some nice scenes with two dudes walking around in ruined city scapes and Shinobu Nagumo is pretty cool (but has only a minor role in this). So a very mixed bag overall, can’t really reccomend. →
Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993) – How to hack a goverment into (almost) starting a civil war. Pretty scary theoretically but watching all three movie back to back I don’t really care for them much: just like with GitS I’m really not interested in all the political intrigue that large parts of these movies are about. And while the final mecha battles of all three Patlabor installments feature women prominently, they’re mostly abscent from the rest of the movies. →
Piano no Mori: The Perfect World of Kai aka Piano Forest (2007) – It’s the old „Unlikely friendship between orderly rich kid and poor wild child“-story, this time they’re connected by their love for playing piano. While the character design is pretty bad and the story could have been told in half that time (= it’s super boring), Kai’s mother is pretty cool and there’s also this (yes, that’s a toilet). →
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009) – The only good thing about this is Layton’s ass-kicking assistant Emma who is by far the coolest female character I’ve seen in a long while in mediocre movies like this. Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t still lots of damseling and awful character design, obviously. →
Psycho Pass – The Movie (2015) – If you’re into dystopian Sci-Fi that makes GitS seem like a stroll in the park this one is for you. Be warned of another instance shitty heterosexism, though. Gays are gross? Seriously? In 2015?. →
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movies (2012 / 2013)
Don’t be fooled by the sweet childish looks of these movies, they’re actually pretty hefty. They also do a cool mixture of normal anime style with more experimental stuff. Obviously there’s a lot to critique if a guy makes a grimdark version of Magical Girls. Review for the first two films by RequiresHate and one this one tries to make sense of third one. →
Saint Young Men (2013) – I really like the idea of Buddha and Jesus living in today’s Japan but for me this doesn’t live up to it. I think my main problem is that our saints lack any distinctive character, so for most of its runttime this movie is just two dudes doing boring stuff. →
Short Peace (2013) – Again a very mixed back of short films (there’s one pretty gory one) with almost no female characters. The first about a man sleeping at an old shrine and making friends with demons by tailoring stuff for them is by far the best one. →
Song of the Sea (2014)
It’s almost as good as Secret of the Kells despite the story being mostly a mix of Absent Mom and Damsel in Distress tropes. Still if you like mythological creatures like selkies, this one is for you! ♥ →
Steins Gate Movie (2013) – O noez, male main character is disappearing into an alternative reality! Let’s spend a movie saving his stupid ass because obviously the world is just pointless without him! Also: Fuck you and your fat-shaming. →
Strike Witches: The Movie (2012) – Lol no.
Summer Days With Coo (2007) – In this movie about a Kappa watch the first scene, then skip one hour and watch the rest. Nothing important happens inbetween. Be prepared though, the character design is pretty bad, the main character is a brat and there’s gender-stereotypes galore. But watch it anyway for the dog, because the dog is aweome! →
Summer Wars (2009)
I like this despite Kazuma not being a girl (I thought he was at first). That would have made this movie truly awesome! The story is a geek’s wet dream, nerds saving the world via social network battles. ♥ →
Taifun Noruda aka Taifuu no Noruda (2015) – While the setting of this 30min shortfilm is awesome (pupils trapped in their school during a Taifun) the story about two bratty teenager boys that bromance over saving The Mysterious Girl™ is super shite. Another waste of beautiful animation talent, go watch A Letter to Momo, instead. →
Tales of the Night (2011) – This is a mixed bag, I like that the fairy tales are from all around the world but I can’t remember a single episode with a female hero and I guess cultural appropriation much? →
The Case of Hana & Alice (2015)
There’s no reason this is an animated movie (because since when is it a problem that teenagers are played by 30-year-olds?), Shunji Iwai could have just made a live action movie and cut all the rotoscoping and wonky CGI crap. The backgrounds sure are beautiful (though the red blob filter makes it look samey really fast). →
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010) – Wow, another „O noez, I woke up in a slightly different reality“-movie. How fresh! (while it has its problems, this one quite entertaining, actually. I like time-travel stories). →
The Life of Guskou Budori (2012)
Another adaption of a Miyazawa novel. It’s very pretty (and the characters are cats again) but wow is the story BORING (and not as fantastical as Night on the Galactic Railroad). Also: terrible CGI. →
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Don’t know if I ever fully watched this because the singing is abhorrent (musicals in general are). But at least the animation isn’t as plastic perfect as Burton’s later work. →
The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) – Well, at least it isn’t boring but it’s another sausage fest, women are damseled or can’t have an agency, o no (also awful character-design, obviously). I felt that there could have been done more with the rather interesting themes of parallel universes and dreams. →
The Rabbi’s Cat (2011)
While it’s a pleasure to see Joann Sfar’s drawings coming alive the story is a total bore (I’m also afraid there’s a tinsy bit of orientalism going on here…). And WTF is this shit with the girl staying at home while the boys go on an adventure? →
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)I loved this back then, no dialogue, stylized characters but they seem to check the „retro racism is still racism, assholes“ box in the first few minutes. →
Waltz With Bashir (2008)
Wasn’t Israel one of the few armies that almost always had females soldiers? Why doesn’t it pass the Bechdel test then? Update: Because back then there waren’t any female soldiers, says Knut. Pity!→
Welcome to the Space Show (2010)
Nice one! While this is a drag at times after the action-packed start (it clocks in at over 2hrs) the end is pretty nice and this movie doesn’t care too much about gender-stereotypes (girls can do the action and boys are allowed to cry). →
Zarafa (2012) – I guess this is a prime example of Orientalism (but that means many PoC characters!), some seem like quite racist stereopyes to me, like the female pirate captain (yay!) who unfortunately of a walking g*psy cliche.
Generally you want to watch the early movies since for me Ghibli has not been much good after Howl’s Moving Castle.
Only Yesterday (1991)
One of these „nothing much is happening“ feel-good movies in which a woman recalls her youth while checking out country life (which is awesome and only a bit hard like fake movie country life always is). →
Ocean Waves aka I Can Hear the Sea (1993) – Cool Tokyo city girl (who’s kind of a dick because puperty) comes to small provincial town and the best friend of the main character (who’s also kind of a dick because puperty) has a crush on her but … I don’t really care and couldn’t even remember that I’ve already seen about 75% of this when I gave it another try a few month later. Maybe it’s just me being a manly man not being interested in romance, though? →
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
I feel like this was really the beginning of the end for Ghibli but I still like it, having an old person as main character, Howl being all androgynous, the magic, Calcifer … ♥ →
Tales From Earthsea (2006)
Goro Miyazaki should have kept on designing theme parks. Instead he made a complete mess of this movie, taking pieces of the different books and producing a movie that makes no sense whatsoever. Plus thanks for whitewashing another Earthsea adaption. It’s still fucking beautiful though. →
Ponyo On The Cliff (2008)
I really enjoyed this at a recent rewatch. I like the simpler, 80s-TV-series-like artstyle with beautiful crayon backgrounds and I especially enjoyed Sosuke’s mom, Lisa, who is pretty rad (as are the old women in the retirement home, obviously). The end is still a bit weird, but there is a (very subtle) envirenmental message in there and the villain isn’t really evil™, Ghibli-stlye. →
The Wind Rises (2013) – Even if you can ignore all the problematic bullshit that comes with the main protagonist being a designer of WWII warplanes this is still one of the more boring Ghibli movies. →
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) – The best Ghibli film for a long time! This has a very unique caligraphic style and a pretty standard „free-spirited girl doesn’t cope well with city life“ story that takes a really weird turn at the end. →
When Marnie Was There (2014)
I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a Ghibli film for years! It starts of as another teenage angst movie in which a girl goes to the countryside to cure her asthma then turns into a weird invisible girlfriend lovestory (maybe because lost in subtitlelation?) with a lot of twisty twists (that undermine these „lesbian undertones“ but whateva). It’s full of cool characters and all around an awesome movie. ♥ →
Studio 4°C is a really mixed bag with some really good movies and some unbelievable awful ones (Halo, Thundercats, First Squad …) going down to abhorrent disgusting shite (Berserk). You might want to check out their shorter works, too.
Princess Arete (2001)
Just love this, fantasy at it’s best, the emancipation of a princess (though critics argue that the original book is more feminist). This feels like a good olde Ghibli movie. ♥ →
Harmony (2015) – I didn’t even know this was a Studio 4°C movie while watching it. It’s a pretty boring dystopian movie I can hardly remember anything about but here’s a review by Benjanun Sriduangkaew →
That was kind of a letdown, right? Not only have I not watched/can’t remember anything about 80% of the movies but I also can’t really recommend many of them. I guess it’s still a good starting point just to know what’s out there (though this is naturally far from a complete list – for more go to Wikipedia but be warned, you’ll have to wade through all the CGI vomit. Same goes for Letterboxd’s Animation category).
I also recently found the aptly named Anime Movie Guide, so give that a go too.