Top 10 Films asks: what are the top 10 voice performances in animated movies? Our selection features a fish called Dory, a toy called Woody and a genie called Aladdin…
10. Will Arnett – Lego Batman in The Lego Movie (2014)
This is not the only popular character in an ensemble piece that went on to have their own spin off. After appearing in The Lego Movie, Lego Batman is due out next year. Stealing every scene he featured in Will Arnett’s caricature take on Christian Bale’s gravelly voice was a piece of comic genius especially when he starts rapping about being an orphan. The teaser trailers seem to build on this approach meaning hopes are high for Lego Batman. Indeed, the potential success of the film could see this voice performance creep up the list.
9. Sterling Holloway – Winnie the Pooh in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
An instantly recognisable classic, the original voice from the first Disney Winnie the Pooh theatrical release. Holloway also provided the voice of the mouse in the Aristocats but Winnie the Pooh is his legacy. You don’t know the name but you can hear the voice especially the way he says “honey”. Holloway was the original pooh bear that set the standard for the character that others have had to adhere to.
8. Antonio Banderas – Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 (2004)
Not the only Shrek character to feature on the list but perhaps the only one where the voice came before the character. Of course, only the Spanish Lothario who played Zorro could give justice to this pussy cat in boots. Such was the impact of this new character he was allowed his own spin off film which was so much better than it deserved to be! The Shrek sequels did have diminishing returns but they did produce this brilliant character so they can’t be all that bad.
7. Jeremy Irons – Scar in Lion King (1994)
The only villain to make the list from one of Disney’s most popular films. A fittingly creepy and unnerving voice performance that is expected of any great Disney villain. The almost Shakespearian delivery of Jeremy Iron’s villain only adds to the performance.
6. Eddie Murphy – Donkey in Shrek (2001)
The voice of Donkey is still the best thing the once great Eddie Murphy has done in years. The chemistry with Mike Myers is clear and the comedic timing of Donkey is the highlight of the film. Murphy also provided the voice of the Dragon Mushu in Disney’s Mulan, but it is Donkey that captured Murphy’s charisma and comedy.
5. Peter Sallis – Wallace in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Aardman Animation’s most famous couple with only one voice had some great short films followed by this theatrical release. The brilliant Peter Sallis is the quintessential bumbling Englishman outsmarted and protected by his silent but emotive dog, Wallace. The beautiful animation is matched perfectly with the voice creating a number of great lines like “More cheese Gromit”!
4. Ellen DeGeneres – Dory in Finding Nemo (2003)
Not the highest Pixar entry on the list but the only female voice performance that has made this Top 10. A performance and character so popular in Finding Nemo that Dory has become the main focus of the sequel Finding Dory. A charming, hilarious and lovable character defined by a great voice performance especially when speaking whale. This character with a short term memory is the one that sticks in the long term memory of both kids and adults.
3. Tom Hanks – Woody in Toy Story (1995)
Pixar have changed the animation world and are now the high watermark all others are judged against but Toy Story was a massive risk. Would Toy Story have been such a success without the performance and name of Tom Hanks attached? The film is a modern classic and many will argue that sequels are superior but Hanks’ voice is integral. When watching the film you don’t hear Hanks, you hear Woody, which is the highest praise possible to a voice performance.
2. Phil Harris – Baloo the bear in The Jungle Book (1967)
This is the best classical animation performance before big name actors were used. The voice of Baloo the bear is instantly recognised along with perhaps the most famous Disney song The Bare Necessities. A tune we have all hummed along to. In the classic Disney era the voice talent worked over a number of films and Phil Harris was not only Baloo but Thomas O’Malley in the Aristocats and Little John in Robin Hood. A voice with a smooth welcoming tone that evokes childhood nostalgia to all who hear it.
1. Robin Williams – Genie in Aladdin (1992)
This is the performance that changed the landscape of animated films. All of the Pixar and Shrek films that followed owe a debt to Robin Williams. He was really the first big star to dip his toe into animation with spectacular results. After this it became important to have a popular established voice cast with the likes of Hanks and Murphy. So many great scenes from this classic animation were created around Williams just improvising. The rumour is there was enough material to create an entire film around his voice work. The powers that be were wise enough to just let Williams do his thing. This was perhaps the first successful mainstream animation that had some humour aimed at parents and adults whilst not alienating its core child audience. The ultimate voice performance in an animated film.
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Written and Compiled by Lyndon Wells
What are your fave voice performances in animated films?