Here I am with another one of my hot takes. This time I’m definitively listing what I think are the 10 best Disney movies period.
Now, when I say Disney movies I’m talking the animated stuff. I’m not taking into consideration live action, Marvel, Star Wars, or Pixar. Mostly because just narrowing down the animated list was harder than I anticipated and quite frankly I might still change my mind as I’m writing. Not that you’d know, but I’d know. I will be including the computer-animated movies in my decision making just as an FYI.
Ok let’s go.
1. Beauty and the Beast
Probably my favorite Disney movie of all time. I’ve always related so much to Belle. So much so that if I’m watching it and someone walks in during the library scene, without fail that person is like “Oh look it’s you.” (In my dreams, I WISH someone would just gift me a library).
The songs are all so memorable (“Be Our Guest” “Tale As Old As Time”) and the movie is so well animated around them. Who among us DOESN’T recognize that iconic ballroom dance scene? Belle’s longing for adventure and not feeling like she fit in among her peers was something I really related to as a kid, and still feel at times as an adult. Watching her become so self-assured and strong when anyone else might have cowered and run away was so inspiring.
2. Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride
I always get a lot of heat for this one, but I’m just going to say it. I have always like Lion King 2 over Lion King. I think the story is more interesting, I liked the warring factions of lions and the star crossed romance between Kiara and Kovu. Which is odd because the original is based off of Hamlet which is my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, and Lion King 2 is based on Romeo and Juliet which I don’t care for as much. The mind is a strange thing.
I think it was mostly that like Belle, I found Kiara to be a very compelling character. She wanted to do things her own way and was blocked at every turn. I admired that she took charge of her life even when it meant going against her family because she knew it was the right thing to do and re-uniting the two lion prides.
If anyone disagrees about Mulan being on this list then they can leave right now. Mulan has everything: action, adventure, romance, a hero who is trying her best. Plus there’s Mushu and his impersonation of an Imperial Officer.
The songs in this movie are also *chef’s kiss*. “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” played on a loop during finals week in college to motivate my roommates and I to survive.
Moana spoke to my soul and had me crying one minute and laughing the next. Moana wins all of the awards. She hits all the points I love in a heroine and her confidence in herself is something to truly be admired. She is a true inspiration to everyone.
Robin Williams as Genie. Do I really need to say more?
Also I was in love with Aladdin as a five year old, so to inspire that much devotion in a being who’s whims change with the wind is a true accomplishment. The sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves was also a favorite, even as a kid I was a sucker for backstory. You just wanted the best for Aladdin because he was truly trying his best and he kept being taken advantage of or not believed in because of his background. That hit me in my heart, so Aladdin earns a place on this list.
6. 101 Dalmatians
Anyone who loves dogs loves 101 Dalmatians. Them’s the rules. Interestingly, this along with Mulan were movies I only ever saw in Spanish as a kid. I was in college before I watched them in English for the first time. Which means that both of these movies translate well and only reinforces my claim that they’re among the best Disney movies out there.
Watching it as an adult, and in English, is an interesting experience. As a kid you hate, and are maybe a little afraid of Cruella De Vil (no? just me?), but as an adult I appreciate her as a villain a lot more. I still hate her for the attempted puppy murders, because dogs are precious and must be protected and I will fight anyone who hurts any doggo, but the dimensions to her make her much more interesting. Like the fact that she’s Anita’s school friend? Meaning that they grew up together? What was that like??
Honestly between Aristocats and 101 Dalmatians no one should have been surprised that I ended up loving European aesthetic and animals. These movies are beautiful, and I especially loved the color palettes used in Aristocats. This movie is solely responsible for any inclination I had as a youth to go to Paris someday. It’s definitely inspired me as an adult to one day leave my fortune to my pets.
8. The Emperor’s New Groove
I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It’s so over the top and ridiculous, it really doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves. After a hard day, there’s little better than settling in to watch Kuzco and Pacha develop a begrudging mutual respect and friendship. Plus Kronk has some of the most meme-able lines, his poison speech being one of my most used quotes ever.
9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is another Disney movie that people don’t talk enough about. Probably because it really forces the audience to confront the fact that modern society is where it is because of colonialism and it’s negative effect on the colonized. When you think about it, it’s really dark and political for a Disney movie, but it’s the extra nuance that I live for.
10. Oliver and Company
Honestly, I just think the animal movies are all really good. Disney’s take on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is probably the only reason I like anything other than A Christmas Carol by Dickens. I loved the depiction of New York in the 80’s and the music for this movie is A++++. “Why Should I Worry” is a straight banger and that’s a fact.
The Black Cauldron
I will die fighting on the hill for The Black Cauldron‘s deserved recognition. Why isn’t it on the official list then? Because Disney was just too influential in my childhood and it made it hard to stick to just 10. So it came down to what did I watch more often and I didn’t have the VHS for The Black Cauldron as a kid. That was a BlockBuster rental.
What do you think the best Disney movies are? Let me now in the comments below!
Featured Image via Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/475200198184687140/
I'm a writer based in California. I received my Bachelor's and Master's in Literature from San Francisco State University. I dream of one day writing books of my own and maybe even being part of a writer's room for a show! I love to talk about pop culture, books, and travel to anyone willing to listen. Some of my favorite topics in those categories are "Avatar the Last Airbender", "Gilmore Girls", the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mexico, and Paris. My favorite thing in the world though is my dog, he's just the cutest!