Check out the three animations considered the first projects on this field. Released between the late 18th and early 19th century, all of them fascinate the viewer for their aesthetics and innovative features. Controversies aside, they are all worth a look.
Pauvre Pierrot, by Charles-Émile Reynaud:
Pauvre Pierrot was released on November of 1892, at the Musée Grévin, Paris. The film is made of 500 hand-painted images animated through the use of a praxinoscope, a piece of equipment developed by Raynaud himself. It creates the illusion of movement through the projection of images drawn on transparent slides on a cylindrical surface. The images, reflected on mirrors, seem to move while the cylinder spins.
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, by J. Stuart Blackton:
Dated from 1906, the experiment shows a cartoonist drawing figures on a blackboard. After finished, they come to life, moving at 20 frames per second.
Fantasmagorie, by Emile Cohl:
Emile Cohl, French cartoonist, is considered the inventor of cartoon films. His first film, Fantasmagorie, was first projected on August 17th of 1908, on Théâtre du Gymnase, Paris. The animation is made of 700 drawings and is almost two minutes long.