Our top 25 animated movies list heads down the final stretch, the five best films ever made. This quintet separated itself from the pack with a ton of support from multiple members of the panel. Tomorrow: #4.
5) Finding Nemo (5 votes, 304 points)
Chris: Like a couple other movies on our list, Finding Nemo opens with a punch in the stomach and never looks back.
It’s because of how sad the opening is that I’m willing to forgive Marlin for being a little overprotective. There he is, just minding his own business and enjoying a wonderful day, when all of a sudden his wife and 99% of his kids are gone. I think he’s allowed to be a bit cautious.
When I first watched Finding Nemo, I thought I was going to be annoyed by the secondary story with Nemo and his new friends in the dentist’s office. Turns out that might be my favorite part. Instead, what annoys me is Dory. So yes, I’m a bit concerned about a sequel that focuses even more attention on her.
Still, the entire movie captures the essence of what makes Pixar so great in almost all of its projects (*cough*Cars and Cars 2*cough*) — heart. Pixar makes you invest in these wonderfully animated characters, whether they’re people or rats or fish or the personification of emotions themselves. It’s remarkable, really.
Shaun: I went with my very first girlfriend to see this movie, and we held hands for the first time during it! Yes, the relationship later crashed and horrifically burned, but that never tainted my enjoyment of Marlin’s quest to find his son. Part of the wonderment I held with this movie lies in how incredible PIxar rendered the ocean as this huge, terrifying, wonderful space. This company is consistently creative, but Finding Nemo managed to capture the true essence of the ocean, and was as immersive for me as it was entertaining. I was fond of all the characters, and even found the subplot following the sea creatures in the dentist’s tank tormented by She-Sid to be wonderfully charming. Very deserving of its position as one of the best animated movies ever made.
Michaela: I practically grew up with this movie. I never get tired of watching it, and I still love it to this day. Finding Nemo’s story about parenthood and learning to accept the fact that children grow up and need to be let go is a really powerful message that can resonate with the audience, both adults and children. Marlin’s protectiveness is believable and doesn’t come off as irritating or annoying because of how well-written a character he is. Of course, Dory is the best character in the film, and her banter with Marlin creates some of the best moments in the movie. Not only has the comedy in Finding Nemo aged very well, but so has the animation. I sometimes forget that this movie is twelve years old because of how amazing it still looks. I’m slightly terrified at the prospect of a sequel because of how much I love this movie, but I can only hope that it will be as emotionally compelling as Finding Nemo is.
Cary: As much as I loved Toy Story, I don’t really think I “got” Pixar until I saw Finding Nemo. Man, that story about the little, lost clownfish just hit all the right emotional cylinders, from start (his mother’s death) to finish (reuniting with his father). Plus, Dory, Dory, and…Dory. Also, Finding Dory? Yes please, because the world NEEDS MORE DORY.
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