Should You Watch ‘Nimona’ on Netflix? Review of Netflix’s Animated Oscar Contender

Our PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP? review of Netflix's animated movie.

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nimona netflix movie review

Picture: Netflix

The latest Netflix Original Animated feature, Nimona, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?

Based on the New York Times bestselling graphic novel of the same name by ND Stevenson, Nimona is set in a futuristic medieval monarchy kingdom protected by knights for centuries since the land was attacked by a fire-breathing monster and shielded by its deified savior, Gloreth.

Over that time, every knight has been a descendant of Gloreth and the original knights she trained long ago – until today. Ballister (voiced by Oscar-nominated actor Riz Ahmed), top of the class of new knights that includes Gloreth descendant and Ballister’s lover Ambrosia Goldenloin, was chosen by the queen to be trained as a knight even though he is a commoner not of the lineage chosen by Gloreth. On the day of his ceremonial knighting, he is set up as his sword casts a mysterious laser shot into the body of the Queen, killing her instantly. Forced into action by the assassination, Ambrosia cuts off Ballister’s arm and sends him on the run fleeing from the crime he didn’t commit.

Now living in hiding with everyone against him, Ballister is approached by Nimona (Chloe Grace Moretz) – a mischievous shape-shifter shunned as a monster by society – to be his new sidekick. Though trained his whole life to destroy creatures such as Nimona, he reluctantly agrees as they set forth on a havoc-wreaking adventure attempting to clear Ballister’s name and punish those responsible for the Queen’s death.

With the adaptation rights being acquired as far back as 2015, the production of Nimona was a long and difficult task. Originally set at 20th Century Fox with their award winning team at Blue Sky Studios producing & animating, the film went through many delays after Fox was acquired by the Walt Disney Company. The project was canceled in 2021 after Disney shuttered Blue Sky, but many of the former staff there claim the film was 75% completed and may have been unfairly maligned after its LGBT themes received pushback from Disney leadership. The film was picked up in the Spring of 2022 by Netflix and Annapurna Pictures with DNEG Animation as the new animation studio. Having worked on the project since 2020, Nick Bruno and Troy Quane would sign up as the film’s directors with Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor rewriting the script.

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Nimona director, Troy Quane; creator, ND Stevenson, director, Nick Bruno at Annecy 2023 film festival

Even with so many outside forces attempting to never bring this film to light, Nimona persisted and I’m glad it did. With a unique blend of medieval lore & traditions alongside modern tech & culture, the film crafts a unique story of morality & honor with clear messages about institutional fear mongering and the hardships inflicted upon queer communities and those with fluid identities.

Using shape-shifting as an allegory for those messages, Nimona joins the ranks of its award-winning animated peers – 2012’s Brave & 2020’s Wolfwalkers – as successful examples of films geared towards helping tweens and early teens that help them understand the dangers of Otherism, question the basis for the discrimination on display, and facilitate change in the face of cultural norms.

nimona coming to netflix in june 2023 chloe grace moretz

Picture: Netflix

Though the film deals with many complex issues in its background, the simplicity in its delivery and relationship-building should ultimately win over its audience. The basic need to be seen and wanted without judgment serves almost every major character in the story and can be easily digested by its target audience without the need for a heavy hand

“I don’t know what’s scarier … The fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart … or that sometimes … I just want to let ‘em.” – Nimona

“I see you, Nimona, and you’re not alone.” – Ballister

These quotes from the film’s central characters illustrate the isolation that fear-mongering and Otherism can bring and how simple, kind words can bring us people back from the brink.

While its strengths clearly lie in its storytelling, character design, and the voiceover talents of Moretz & Ahmed, the film is not without flaws. Some clunky world-building, especially in its opening act, and some inconsistent animation and production design keep the film from being among the elite peers that were mentioned in its story design class. However, I would not be surprised if the film garnered awards consideration throughout the year.

nimona first look summer preview

Picture: Netflix

Overall, Nimona balances humor, action, & mythical lore with its central themes of fluid identity, isolation, Otherism, morality, and opposing the controlling institutions that breed exclusion and intolerance. Though they may not be as high-profile or as celebrated as Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, the output from Netflix in the area of animated features is off to a stellar start in 2023 with this film and The Magician’s Elephant and should be contenders for end of the year awards.

Watch Nimona If You Like:

  • Wolfwalkers
  • Brave
  • 9
  • Wendell & Wild
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines

MVP of Netflix’s Nimona


Voiceover acting is not typically applauded in the same way as its live-action counterparts; however, in the case of the character of Nimona, it takes a delicate balance of aggression & vulnerability that can only be conveyed by actors with impressive range. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Carrie, Hugo), who is also known for her vocal support of the queer & trans communities, has shown an ability on screen to morph from roles of intense action & emotion to more sweet & open performances. Her past performances have aided her in taking on the character of Nimona who continues to ante up for a society that continually shuts “monsters” like her out.



Spider-Verse may well dominate the animated conversation until awards season later this year, but Nimona has a real chance to have a lasting impact in its messages of tolerance, morality, & subverting cultural norms. The partnership between Ballister & Nimona can teach us all something about keeping your heart open and accepting others for what they are.

Written by

Andrew Morgan is a film critic & podcaster with 20 years of experience on the sets & offices of film & television. Current podcast host of the entertainment review show, Recent Activity. He lives in the Northeast of the United States.