(Okay fine, this is really just a ranking of my top ten favorites).
I wish it was more of a musical, but I absolutely love Phil Collins’ music in this. I love the message of love and family crossing boundaries, and how others might hate on that only because they hate what they do not understand. I love the environmental and acceptance messages the movie has, and how it reminds us what human nature really should be. It makes me want to move into a jungle, honestly.
Maybe not the best Disney film, but it’s a personal favorite. It’s so funny and tongue in cheek, kind of like Lion King 1 1/2. Megara is a sarcastic queen, and I love the jaded girl meets innocent boy trope. “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” is also one of my favorite disney songs. I also love Hades.
I love anything with Lin-Manuel Miranda or the Rock involved, so this is a double whammy. Auli’i Cravalho is AMAZING as Moana, and she’s got a beautiful voice to bring beautiful songs to life. I can’t believe how young she is!! It’s pretty classic in terms of plot (it’s really an opposite, more empowering Little Mermaid) but it’s got an environmental message, which is cool. I love how Moana looks like an actual person that could exist and not a stick, too. “Shiny” is also a jam, and the animation of the water is gorgeous.
7. The Little Mermaid
We have ALL tried to do this on a rock before.
The story’s a bit dull/misogynistic if you get down to it – Ariel gives up her voice and literally risks her soul so that she can go after a guy she’s only SEEN before. Eric falls for her based pretty much just on her voice when she rescues him. Ursula says guys don’t like girls who talk, and honestly, that’s sort of the message this film gives off.
But the MUSIC! The animation!! MERMAIDS!! I’m a sucker for setting, and this one’s just got an amazing one. That feeling you get at Ariel’s age of not fitting in and wanting to explore and get away from the roles you’ve been handed is also captured really well. Its sequels are decent, and Sebastian and Flounder are classic sidekicks. I also love the fish out of water trope (ha! this one’s literal), and this nails that on the head. Honestly, this one gets this spot based on its cultural influence and how much I loved it when I was little.
Li Shang is definitely the second hottest Disney “prince”. And Mulan kicks ASS! I love any women empowerment stories, and Mulan’s the OG. Plus, Eddie Murphy kills it as Mushu. It’s funny, empowering, and thrilling, and Mulan doesn’t even wear a crown or put on a ballgown. This one also captures the feeling of not fitting in even better than the Little Mermaid – but she explores the world out of necessity and not wanderlust. I love the family story at the core and the fact that the love story isn’t the central plot.
Robin Williams is a comedic genius, and he quite simply MAKES this film. I’m also a big fan of the princess and the pauper trope, and I love fake identities and bandit stories. Aladdin and Jasmine have way more personality than most Disney princes and princesses, and Jafar is creepy enough to give you nightmares. But really, this one’s all the genie.
Frozen is the single most beautiful piece of animation I’ve ever seen. I’m obsessed with snow and sparkles, so that’s part of it, but just the way they animate the ice is so amazing. I also love that it’s a sister story and makes fun of a lot of the true love tropes Disney normally does. The music’s amazing (even if you’re sick of Let it Go), the cast is even better, and the story is complicated and beautiful. Plus Olaf is hilarious. Yes, it’s overhyped, but it’s honestly pretty amazing.
3. The Lion King
There top three were HARD. Because honestly, The Lion King might be the best Disney film of all time. It’s probably the most well-known. It’s got amazing music and beautiful animation. The story’s basically just Hamlet, but hey, it’s a good adaptation. It’s heartbreaking, funny, and inspiring; all the things a Disney film should be. Plus its two sequels are legitimately good.
Also we were all attracted to adult Simba, don’t even lie.
2. Beauty and the Beast
Another contender for the best Disney film of all time. As a brunette bookworm, I always related to Belle. I also love how the villain is a bad guy because he’s misogynistic and cocky (very progressive for Disney in 1991! Most of their villains were older jealous women) . Every song is an absolute bop, and this film is the best use of 2D animation that I’ve ever seen. The ballroom scene is just gorgeous. The story’s also really dark (and kind of problematic, but so are most of Disney’s tropes), which I love. Also, it’s in FRANCE! What more could you want?
Don’t even try to tell me Frozen is better. First of all, you’ve got Flynn Rider, the hottest, funniest Disney prince of all time with a heart of GOLD. You’ve got not one but TWO animal sidekicks, neither of which speak but both manage to be hilarious and wonderful! AND you’ve got Rapunzel, the cutest Disney princess who did adorkable shut-in WAY before Anna did! Also the story is hella dark, which I love, and the scenes at the end with Rapunzel standing up to Mother Gothel are terrifying and amazing. The songs are fun, the animation in BEAUTIFUL (those lanterns! that hair!), and the love story is both adorable and dramatically romantic. I’ve seen this movie more than any other movie in my life. It’s perfection.