To a large extent, there are three studios who have the monopoly on animated cinema: Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. Although there are occasionally some exceptions to this rule, the majority of the animated movies that dominate the box office and go on to sweep awards have all been produced by these companies. Their films include the likes of Frozen, Toy Story, How To Train Your Dragon, Shrek, Inside Out and Madagascar to name but a few.
In their dominion of the animation genre, it is easy to overlook many of the other great movies made by artists outside of the mainstream. Although the aforementioned animations are all good (some, even, could be considered great) the most pioneering and interesting work is, as always, being done independently. Away from the corporate worlds of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks - where the desire to make money often trumps the actual creative process - is where some of the best animated films are being made.
To celebrate the imminent release to two great independent animations: Song Of The Sea, out in cinemas this weekend, and The Tale Of Princess Kaguya on home entertainment from July 13th, here are ten of our favourites that you might never have seen.
10. Ernest And Celestine
Animated movies don't come much warmer and fuzzier than Ernest And Celestine, a delightful little story about the friendship between a mouse and a bear. Originally made in French but dubbed into English with the voice talents of Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall and many more, it will charm the hell out of children and adults alike.
9. Chico And Rita
Chico And Rita is a glorious old-fashioned romance film set against the music-infused backdrop of 1940s Havana, a heartbreaking Casablanca styled drama that's classy, sexy and emotionally charged. Oh, and did we mention it's also animated? If you ever thought animation was just for children, this Oscar nominee from 2012 will make you think again.
8. A Town Called Panic
A Town Called Panic might be the French-est movie ever made. It is a weird and wacky stop-motion animation about the hi-jinx of a cowboy, Indian and a horse - all of which were made with miniature toy figurines. Whether it is the work of geniuses or crazy people is entirely dependent on you, but we can guarantee you have never seen anything quite like this.
Don't ever say that animation doesn't reflect the real world. You only have to look at Marjane Satrapi's awe-inspiring Persepolis in order to see that it can. Based on her autobiographical graphic novel, it is a hand-drawn account of her childhood in Iran and the issues she struggled with as a curious young girl in this society. It was controversial - the Iranian government limited screenings in Tehran - but Persepolis is must see for how it tell its very personal story in such a unique way.
6. Secret Of The Kells
Secret Of The Kells is something of an Irish interpretation of what Hayao Miyazaki and his Japanese animation lab Studio Ghibli have been doing since the 1980s. It draws on Celtic mythology to tell a magical tale deeply infused with a uniquely Irish sensibility. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010 upsetting a number of major studio movies. The director's new movie, Song Of The Sea, is out this weekend.