I love animated movies. I love lists. I may even go as far as saying that I love Disney, but I have enough other issues with that company that I will just stick with “admiring” them. However, like most children growing up in the 90’s, pretty much all of the animated movies I watched were a product of the Giant Corporate Mouse, so my list would have been 95% Disney based anyways. I also have chosen not to include Disney/Pixar movies, otherwise this list will turn into a memento of how much better Pixar is than Disney. (Which, now that I think about it, may become a topic for another day.)
So without further ado, I shall present my top ten favorite Disney animated movies.
10) Frozen (2013)
Make it stop! Make it stop! ..Can’t handle this any more!
I know this movie has produced a lot of hype (both before and after its release.) I saw it in theaters shortly after it came out, and I liked it. I was pleasantly surprised on the quality and effort that was put into both the story and the musical score. I was expecting another Disney princess film that taught the same lesson that every other Disney princess film did, and I was wrong. The fact that the movie centered around both female empowerment (i.e. neither of them up ended up married in the end), and directly addressed the absurdity of marrying someone you just met. I even was prepared to hate the snowman Olaf from watching the promotional commercials, and he surprised me by being only mildly annoying, and even a bit humorous. That being said, I put this low on my list, because while it was great, it wasn’t great. Some people refer to it as “the next Lion King”. While it is the best movie Disney has produced (by itself) in years, I do not believe it holds up to the standards of the hand-drawn animation of the previous decades. (Example: what was the point of those mossy trolls? I felt both their presence and their singing was obnoxious as hell.) Also, if I hear “Let it Go” one more time, I may rip my own ears off. But, if you somehow have managed to avoid seeing it, I
9) Mulan (1998)
I have never met a person that disliked this movie, there only seem to be various degrees of likes. First of all, Mulan is not a princess (yey!) , and second, she has a fucking dragon as a friend. This setup is only slightly marred by the fact that Mushu is voiced by Eddie Murphy, which is just a little odd, in my opinion. Instead of being a damsel in distress, she saves all of China from an entire army jaundice-ridden Huns, how cool is that.)
Also,the song “Be a Man” has to be the most catchiest Disney song ever, it seems to be so contagious that people will join in upon hearing it. Oh, and George Takei voices the head of Mulan’s ancestors. Hell. Yes. I honestly could watch this movie a hundred times and never get bored of it.
8)The Sword and the Stone (1963)
This movie is on this list mainly for the sake of nostalgia. My grandmother had a VHS copy of it at her house, and I watched more times than I can count. I actually had not seen it for several years until I watched it again last week. As an adult, I see the reasons why I loved it so much as a child. First of all, I love the older Disney animation, it has a beautiful, irreplaceable quality to it. The story line is cute, and plays into the desires of a child: meeting a wizard, turning into different animals, watching a magic duel, and become a heir to an entire country. If you have not seen this movie, it is well worth your time (especially if you have children.)
7) Atlantis: the Lost Empire (2001)
No more Chinese laundry.
I remember seeing this movie a few years after it came out at my friend’s house. I loves the artwork, I loves the premise, I love the characters, and I love the adventure. At the time, it was revolutionary: this movie had made greater use of (CGI) than any of Disney’s previous animated features; and it remains one of the few to have been shot in anamorphic format. Atlantis also lacked songs, which is a usual, Disney trademark, and I believe that is what I liked most about it. It is much more ‘serious’ than other Disney movies and is one of a few of their movies to actually show blood. I admire what it able to accomplish: a unique animated adventure that tried to stay away from the original, Disney formula. Unfortunately, it not do as well in the box office as Disney had hoped, and was casually swept under the rug, never to be mentioned again. This movie deserves recognition, and to be introduced to the younger generations of children.
6) Fantasia (1940)
Oddly enough, I hated sitting through this movie as a kid until I re-watched it again at fifteen. I honestly think one has to be a certain age to appreciate both the music and visual representations that this movie provides. Both mediums match up perfectly, providing a beautiful representation of stories created through music. By far, my favorite had to be “Night on Bald Mountain”. The sequel, (if you can call it that) Fantasia 2000. Attempts to achieve the same quality as the first one and it fell flat several times; it does not add up to the same amount of powerful emotion as the Fantasia does. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is great for classical music lovers.
5) Tarzan (1999)
And with that, a new generation of foot fetishes was born.
What an awesome representation of Tarzan, the ape man. After watching this movie, I remember remember becoming fascinated with both gorillas and the concept of climbing trees, and spend the next several summers swinging off of tree branches. I am really glad that Disney focused its time with this movie to develop the relationship between Tarzan and Jane (over a period of what I assume is several weeks).
His struggle between being a man and and ape is emotionally strong as he learns of language, science and a world beyond the jungle. Full of personal issues and plenty of death, I always get teary-eyed when I watch this movie.
4) Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
As an adult, it gets harder for Disney to make much of an impression on me with it’s new material, that is not the case with this movie. I absolutely love the concept Wreck-It Ralph. The idea of an entire world that exists between the games of an arcade is very creative. The best part is that they know and understand that they are video game characters. The fact that the story is told from the point of a ‘villain’, is also an approach that Disney has not done before. Ralph hates always being the loser in his game and questions his existence of being a bad guy, which pushes him to become a hero and earn a medal. His growth as a character as well as his interactions with Vanellope make it a great balance between humor and emotion. This movie also has a habit of making me cry.
3) The Lion King (1994)
Simba. Everything the light touches…belongs to the Disney Company.
Where do I begin with this one? The music is incredible, the characters all have distinct personalities (even if most of them are one dimensional or stagnate characters) and the story line is the animal version of Hamlet. The casting of James Earl Jones as Mufasa and Jeremy Irons as Scar made this movie epic. The contrast between their voices add to the differences between the characters. The “Circle of Life” and “Be Prepared” will always be two of my favorite Disney songs. There is not much else to say about it that most everyone doesn’t already know.
2)The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The musical score alone in this movie captures my attention, I get chills every time I hear “The Bells of Notre Dame”, “God Help the Outcasts,” and “Hellfire.” Every. Single. Time. This movie is not only unique in its placement (i.e. inside of a church), or in some of its content (lustful intentions), but it is also unique in its ending: the guy does not get the girl. This is both sad and refreshing. You want to see Quasimodo achieve the love he desires, but life isn’t always that way and it pulls away from the “traditional” outcome. He does however, get a happy ending, and is accepted into society. (Which I know is completely different than the original story, but what else do you expect from a kids movie?)
This song gives me the shivers.
1) Beauty and the Beast
This is the only movie that I like that follows the traditional “Disney princess” model, as well as the only Disney movie in which I enjoy every single song. Unlike other “Disney princess” movies, this one actually shows an extension of time for a romance to develop. Belle also happens to be my favorite animated character, unlike most other animated girls- she actually reads, and I can relate to that. The fact that the Beast caters to her hobby by giving her an entire ginormous library is fucking awesome. I personally would have married the Beast then and there if he had given me a library. Plus, living in an enchanted castle would be awesome! My only problem with it is the very end, I felt that the fact that Beast changed back into a human kind of defeated the purpose of the theme: loving a person for who they are, rather than what they look like, but I’m just nitpicking.