I had a real tough time with this film, because, on the one hand — I fucking love this movie. Peter Pan is about all that is great and wonderful with childhood. Plus, it’s a Disney classic, and an amazing film. On the other hand — there’s a lot in it that I don’t like. Those Indians, for example. And the fact that Peter is really a giant dick. So I knew this was going high, based on it being what it is and on the parts that I do like (specifically the idea of Wendy not wanting to grow up and Tinkerbell… more on her later), but I wasn’t sure how much the parts I didn’t care for would weigh it down.
I’m still not sure I made the exact right choice here. When ranking it, I had no problem sticking it here, but the more I think about the stuff I love about this film, the more I feel I should have ranked it a little higher. But, why quibble about one or two spots? Plus, when you see what the next two films are — they’re all pretty interchangeable at this level. As long as we can agree this is a top 15 film, that’s most of the battle anyway.
This has to be the simplest of all Disney plots. Even more so than Dumbo. If you think about it — there’s really nothing here in terms of story you can point out except the one moment everybody remembers from this. Outside of that, it’s just — life in the forest.
It’s gorgeous, of course, and this is some of Disney’s best animation ever, but in terms of story, there’s really not anything here. But even so, it’s Bambi and you’d be an idiot if you didn’t consider this a top 15 of all time for them.
I love The Sword in the Stone so much. And I can’t really explain why fully. Every time I try to explain why this film is amazing, I can’t put it into words, and I usually end with, “Just — look at it. Watch it. It just is.”
There’s something about this film that makes it not feel like a Disney movie and yet it definitely is a Disney movie. I think that’s why I love it so much. You watch this, and it feels so slowly paced, and not really about anything in particular. The climactic moment at the end is sort of a — oh, yeah, we stumbled upon this, but don’t worry, great things will happen from it. I love that it doesn’t deal with any of the actual, you know, “important” parts of this story. It’s so —
Honestly — just look at it. Watch it. You’ll see why it belongs here.
I liked Pocahontas a lot when I was younger. Then I forgot about it for years, as I went through my 14-21 years and ignored Disney altogether. And when it came time to make this list, I hadn’t watched it in years, and I thought it was gonna end up lower. I thought mid-20s was where this would end up, maybe #23 or #22 at the highest. But you know what — it belongs here.
It belongs here because it’s a classic story, the animation is gorgeous, and the songs are among Disney’s very best (“Colors of the Wind” is a top five for all time for them). There’s nothing bad about this movie. Even the story pretty much works. It’s a bit light on some character development here or there, but overall, it really works. You’d be crazy if you didn’t consider this a top 20 Disney movie of all time.
I love Tangled. So much. I was practically giddy when I saw this. This movie does almost everything right. All my quibbles about it are minor (songs aren’t that good compared to the “Classic” Disney stuff, CG and not hand-drawn, still has a few annoying modern animated movie traits), and even so — it barely fits into the category of quibble-worthy for all of that stuff.
The movie itself is gorgeous, it’s funny as hell, always entertaining, and in all conjures up some of the best Disney moments they’ve done since their Renaissance. If they can put out something like this every year or other year — they’re doing all right by themselves.
Plus, it’s not even racist! I don’t think I spotted one really racist thing in this movie. Which is just a huge step for them. (Though again, with the CG. It’s just not you, Disney.)
Ahh — Dumbo.
I went through while compiling a list and figured out what I’d consider to be the 17 Disney movies that I’d say, about 90% of normal, rational people would put in their top 20 best Disney movies. (Trust me — 17.) They’re films where, if you didn’t put them in the top 20 — it would seem weird. This is the first of those films.
Ideally most people would put this higher, but remember, I’m ranking how I love the films. And while I love Dumbo — there’s not much here to make me want to watch it more than the other 18 films on this countdown. But again — it’s one of those 17, and because of that, it has to go here. The animation, the classic nature of it — and it just being amazing — put it here without question.
The one thing I really want to say about Dumbo is: I can stand the sight of worms. And look at microscopic germs. But Technicolor pachyderms — is really too much for me.
I love the idea of Fantasia. It’s simply just – here’s music, let’s animate it. And you get three things from these movies: first, you get great classical music, which is being introduced to children (and, to an extent, everyone). Then, you get brilliant animation, specifically my favorite kind of Disney animation – abstract animation, where they get to get as visually creative as they want to be (which, when you look at Disney, is always when they do their best work). And third, you get movies that are pretty much impossible to be considered bad. How can you call a Fantasia movie bad? It’s just music and animation.
So no matter how much I feel like I should rank this film lower, I can’t do it. Because when I watch it, I love it more than most other Disney movies.
Mulan is another one of those films a lot of people grew up with that I just didn’t. I didn’t see it until very recently. Very, to the point where I’d actually started writing up the list before I saw it, and I had set it in the area above #30, hoping I’d like it enough for it to warrant inclusion there.
I shouldn’t have been worried. The film is amazing. This is easily my favorite of the post-Pocahontas Renaissance films that I hadn’t seen. It has just about everything. Sure — you can see them veering into that stuff they do nowadays that I hate (like that dance scene at the very end — what the fuck is that?), but they make up for it with amazing animation (that avalanche sequence is breathtaking).
I thought this film was going to end up around #26 or #25 — but I really liked this one. To the point where I almost feel bad I never got to see it when I was younger. Oh well. At least I have it now.
I saw Bolt in theaters. I tell this story a lot. I don’t know why. I hadn’t seen a new Disney movie for about thirteen years, and for some reason, I not only decided, “Hey, I want to see this one,” but I actually went to see it in theaters. I had gone with friends to see Quantum of Solace the week before, and now I was home for Thanksgiving. And on Thanksgiving night, I said, “I’m gonna go see Bolt.” It’s actually kind of strange that I decided that. I really don’t think of myself in 2008 as having come around on all the Disney stuff as much as I have.
But — I remember — when I went to see the film — the theater was empty. It was Thanksgiving. No one was in the theater. It was just me. And the show was set to start at — say, 7:30. And by 7:45, the lights were still on in the theater, no previews or anything was on, and nothing seemed to be happening. And finally one of the staff walked in and saw that someone was actually there to see the movie (I guess they figured if no one showed up, they didn’t have to run it), so they went and started it. So I saw this film, in theaters, alone.
And I loved it. I can’t explain what in the trailer for this movie made me think, “I want to see that,” but it did, and the movie itself was great. It really surprised the hell out of me. And honestly, after several rewatches since then, my opinion of the film hasn’t changed. I think this is a terrific, terrific film, and, honestly, when I put it against all the other Disney movies, I think it’s better than most of them. It’s funny, it has heart, it’s entertaining, it doesn’t slip into too much of the bad Disney stuff they’ve been veering into, and aside from the lack of songs (which actually works for this story), I don’t really have any problems with it. I really like it.
I don’t know why this film is being ranked as highly as it is — I can’t explain it. It’s full of all the Disney things they do nowadays that I hate. And yet — this film is a huge guilty pleasure for me.
I really love this film, and I couldn’t tell you why. Honestly, this film would be better served about eight spots below this, but — I really like it. I don’t know. I really don’t know. But it’s so much fun.
Seriously — I can’t explain this one. I know it shouldn’t be here, but — I’m doing it. So — there.
Next to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, no film on this list had more upward mobility than The Princess and the Frog. I saw this movie in 2009 and thought — “Yeah, that was good, but it was pretty racist.” But, after a few years of maturation, and a greater respect for Disney, I grew to like this film — a lot.
Racism and stereotypes aside — this is a terrific film. Now — story alone — this would probably be hovering around — say — 30. And that’s where I originally ranked this on my first draft of the list. It was around #33, #34. But, after a rewatch — well, you see where it ended up.
The reason for that climb is twofold — well, three. First, the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Absolutely spectacular. Second — and this is a two-parter. The film is very enjoyable, doing some great things visually and in terms of the writing (again, racism aside), and (this is the second part of number two) it shows respect to Disney films of old. There are a lot of visual references to other Disney films (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Fantasia, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, The Rescuers and Tarzan, to name a few), and that goes a long way with me. And third — and this should always be the most important — I cannot stress how important it was that Disney have a black princess. Sure, they did it kicking and screaming, using as many stereotypes as they could to cushion the fall, but the fact that they did it is a huge step for them, and that automatically makes this one of the better Disney films they’ve made. (Plus the animation is really nice.)
This may be the purest and most innocent of all the Disney films. I dare you to watch this and not enjoy it.
This is basically a remake of the other Pooh film, even though it’s a sequel. The storyline that they follow, you’ll see, is almost exact. It’s more coherent as a plot, so there are differences, but you’ll see a lot of the general situations are exactly the same (some are more fleshed out, some less, but it’s all very similar). And that’s totally fine, because this film is magical.
I am, will will remain, a staunch defender of this film. It is so simple and beautiful. I refuse to believe any child under 6 will not enjoy this. It’s amazing.