Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated Films

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)

The Lego Movie, Top 10 Films of 2014This 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsAn 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsNot 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsThe 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsThe 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsAardman 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsNot 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)

Toy_Story_3_filmPixar 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsThis 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)

Top 10 Voice Performances In Animated FilmsThis 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.
Discover More: Robin Williams Knew Laughter Was The Best Medicine | Top 10 Films of Robin Williams

Written and Compiled by Lyndon Wells

More Top 10 lists you might like:
Top 10 Traditionally Animated Films | Top 10 CGI Animated Films | Top 10 Anime Films

What are your fave voice performances in animated films?

About the Author
A film geek and cinephile masquerading as a Doctor, husband and father. With my dog Bilbo by my side I seek to prescribe a healthy movie experience through accurate diagnostics. Find me on Twitter: @lwellsfilm

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    Dan Reply

    Great selection, Lyndon. Robin Williams is indeed brilliant in Aladdin. It’s another reminder of his talent and how much I miss it. It’s great to see such an array of voice performances make the list – from classic animation to the world of modern CGI. You’re so right about Tom Hanks in Toy Story and how well he brings that character to life – similar praise can be given to Eddie Murphy and Ellen Degeneres for Shrek and Finding Nemo.

    If I was to suggest any others I’d probably point to Chicken Run and Mel Gibson’s turn as Rocky. I also love Wreck It Ralph so would nominate John C. Reilly as he’s great in that as are his fellow co-stars such as Sarah Silverman and Alan Tudyk as villain King Candy.

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    CineGirl Reply

    Great choices. Can’t argue with your number one – Robin Williams performance in Aladdin is genius.

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    Rory Reply

    I feel it is my duty to mention the real unsung hero of Pixar’s animated movies: Patton Oswalt as Remy in Ratatouille! My favourite Pixar film EVER!

    …but you’ve created a seriously good list here. Great stuff.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Love Ratatouille!

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    Mark Fraser Reply

    Mighty fine list. My additions are Sarah Silverman in Wreck It Ralph and Willem Defoe in Finding Nemo – both are hilarious.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      Wreck It Ralph is a real gem of the modern animation – some great performances. Silverman is a great pick.

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    Martin G Reply

    Love Puss in Boots

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    Lyndon Wells Reply

    Was a fun list to out together and difficult to whittle down to only 10. Some great suggestions here that didn’t make the list. Some that I struggled to leave out include
    Woody Allen in Antz basically being himself again
    Kevin Spacey in A Bug’s Life – great villain

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    Callum Reply

    Great list. Many of my favourites on here. Love your number one but my number one would have been Tom Hanks in Toy Story. Like you say, he gave that character so much more… and made Woody one of the most memorable Pixar characters.

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