Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right England icon-chevron-right London icon-chevron-right The best and worst Disney movies
pinocchio, disney

The best and worst Disney movies

We explore the brilliant best and woeful worst of Disney animated films

By Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Tom Huddleston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich
Advertising

Are Disney films wise, funny and visually stunning – perfect for all the family? Or are they sappy and sentimental, brainwashing kids with all-American values? Everyone has an opinion of the 56 animations released over the years by the Walt Disney Company, beginning in 1937 with ‘Snow White’ and hitting new heights with last year’s box office bonanza ‘Frozen’. What cannot be denied is how loved these films are in every corner of the globe. But which Disney movies deserve a place on your DVD shelf, and which are best forgotten? We count down the best and worst Disney animated movies.

A picture of the Couchbound email

An email you’ll actually love

Sign up to our Couchbound newsletter and bring the city to your sofa

Subscribe now
64
Brother Bear, Best and worst Disney movies

Brother Bear (2003)

Film Family and kids

Boy turns into bear. Learns lessons. Audience groans.

This magical-mystical-mumbo-jumbo fantasy tells the story of an Inuit boy bent on revenge against the bear who killed his brother. But during the hunt, he’s transformed into a bear himself. The film’s uninspired animation and treacly sentiment make it one of the most forgettable Disney features. Keith Uhlich

Read review

65
Home on the Range, Best and worst Disney movies

Home on the Range (2004)

Film

Disney goes West in a fruitless hunt for inspiration

Everything about ‘Home on the Range’ is tired, from the poster’s tagline (‘Bust a moo’) to the dull storyline. In the early 2000s, this was exactly the kind of mediocrity that served to push Disney’s classics into the past (and bear in mind this was the summer that Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles’ smashed the box office). It’s hard to hate Roseanne Barr, but watching this feels like being encased in dirt. The film bombed; heads rolled. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

Advertising
66
Pocahontas, Best and worst Disney movies

Pocahontas (1995)

Film

Love in the New World. Yawns in the cinema

The so-called Disney Renaissance, a blessed run of goldmines including ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991), ‘Aladdin’ (1992) and ‘The Lion King’ (1994), had to end sometime. ‘Pocahontas’ was the first Disney animation to be based on a real-life historical character. What a shame the studio opens itself up to legitimate charges of stereotyping Native Americans. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

67
Melody Time, Best and worst Disney movies

Melody Time (1948)

Film Animation

Still riding off the fumes of ‘Fantasia’, Disney goes pop

This anthology of shorts is largely (and understandably) forgotten. It lacks the sweep and classical grandeur of ‘Fantasia’, and these seven tales – about American pioneer Johnny Appleseed and cowboy Pecos Bill, among others – have lost their cultural cachet. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

Advertising
68
Black Cauldron, Best and worst Disney movies

Black Cauldron (1985)

Film Family and kids

One film to disappoint them all

Disney’s second attempt – after ‘The Sword in the Stone’ – to adapt a mystical British fantasy novel goes off the rails thanks to a non-existent plot and tiresome sub-Tolkien characters (including outrageous Gollum knockoff Gurgi). It’s a shame, because there are flashes of real magic here – the John Hurt-voiced Horned King is genuinely creepy. Tom Huddleston

Read review

69
Chicken Little, Best and worst Disney movies

Chicken Little (2005)

Film Action and adventure

Disney enters the brave new world of computer animation

Possibly ‘Chicken Little’ will be remembered as Disney’s first tiptoe into computer animation. Everything else about it is pretty forgettable: charmless, laugh-free and as frantic as a hyperactive five-year-old. The story is lifted from the traditional tale about the chick who believes the end is nigh when an acorn falls on his head (giving us the phrase ‘the sky is falling’). Cath Clarke

Read review

Advertising
70
Fantasia 2000, Best and worst Disney movies

Fantasia 2000 (1999)

Film

Guess who’s Bach?

Disney attempted to recapture the magic of ‘Fantasia’ with a second compilation of animated shorts set to classical music. Yet this seems like a cash-grab, with bored celebrity narrators (Bette Midler, Penn & Teller!) and a recycled feel to many of the segments (the slapstick flamingo ballet isn’t a patch on the original’s crocodiles and hippos). Keith Uhlich

Read review

71
Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Best and worst Disney movies

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

Film Family and kids

Disney gets that sinking feeling with a Verne-inspired adventure

Disney’s attempt at an original, non-musical take on the legend of the lost underwater civilization was seen as a flop on release – the critics weren’t kind, and the box office wasn’t spectacular. Sure, this isn’t the studio’s finest hour, but it’s a sparky, likeable enough tale, reminiscent of a feature-length episode of a Saturday morning cartoon. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
72
The Sword in the Stone, Best and worst Disney movies

The Sword in the Stone (1963)

Film

England’s finest folk hero gets the Disney treatment

Diverting wildly from TH White’s wistful, witty, very English source novel, ‘The Sword in the Stone’ presents the boyhood of King Arthur as a cosy, colourful, slightly crass all-American adventure. It’s enjoyably goofy and little ones love it, but the songs are rotten and the plot paper-thin. Tom Huddleston

Read review

73
Treasure Planet, Best and worst Disney movies

Treasure Planet (2002)

Film Family and kids

What do you call a pirate in space? An arrrrr-stronaut

The idea of repurposing Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’ as a sci-fi adventure isn’t a terrible one. But this peculiar hybrid can’t quite make sense of itself – the great floating space-galleons look more ridiculous than awe-inspiring. It’s a good yarn passably told, but ‘Treasure Planet’ feels like an opportunity wasted. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
74
Saludos Amigos, Best and worst Disney movies

Saludos Amigos (1942)

Film Animation

Disney joins the propaganda trail

In English the title is ‘Hello, Friends’ and ‘Saludos Amigos’ sprang from the US government’s Good Neighbor policy – which aimed to promote friendly relations with Latin America. The result is a slight but charming collection of four shorts (best of the bunch is ‘El Gaucho Goofy’) mixed with live action shots of Walt and his team travelling around the continent. Cath Clarke

Read review

75
Mulan, Best and worst Disney movies

Mulan (1998)

Film Animation

Disney looks to the east for inspiration

Years before ‘Shrek’, Eddie Murphy voiced another irascible non-human sidekick – the dragon Mushu in Disney’s adaptation of a classic Chinese legend. ‘Mulan’ is a mixed bag: there’s a strong heroine and some impressive widescreen action, but the songs are forgettable and it’s all about as authentic as a fortune cookie. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
76
Three Caballeros, Best and worst Disney movies

Three Caballeros (1944)

Film Animation

Disney heads south for a curious tour of Latin America

Produced as a sort of propaganda message to America's southern neighbours, this film sees Donald Duck take us by the hand through Latin America in the company of a Brazilian parrot and a Mexican rooster. Heavily musical and seen at the time as quite flashy and indulgent, it's a series of episodes and imaginary sequences that include Donald dancing with singer Aurora Miranda (sister of Carmen) and frolicking with a bunch of bathing beauties on a Mexican beach. Dave Calhoun

Read review

77
The Rescuers Down Under, Best and worst Disney movies

The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

Film Family and kids

Disney raids its back catalogue for a mousey sequel

This is the odd-film-out in the Disney Renaissance that began with 1988’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. A perfectly acceptable sequel to 1977’s ‘The Rescuers’, it finds mouse heroes Bernard and Miss Bianca travelling to Australia to battle a villainous poacher. Although mostly a time-passer, it does boast some early, eye-popping CGI animation. Keith Uhlich

Read review

Advertising
78
Dinosaur, Best and worst Disney movies

Dinosaur (2000)

Film Fantasy

Disney and dinosaurs – what could go wrong? Um…

In the wake of 1993’s colossal ‘Jurassic Park’, no studio could be blamed for wanting to get in on the prehistoric act. ‘Dinosaur’ goes for realism with its richly textured lizard skins and humid, swampy vistas – making it at the time one of the most expensive films ever. What a shame Disney didn’t put as much effort into the storyline. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

79
Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Film Animation

Get by with a little help

Adapted from a lesser-known Marvel comic, ‘Big Hero 6’ isn’t up there in the dizzy heights of Disney’s recent classics ‘Frozen’ or ‘Zootopia’. But it’s bright and bouncy, with some heartwarming moments. In the future city of San Fransokyo, a 13-year-old computer whiz (Ryan Potter) recruits an unlikely sidekick to solve the mystery of his brother’s death – a marshmallowy ‘healthcare robot’ called Baymax. Cath Clarke

Read review

See numbers 40-31
40
Meet the Robinsons, Best and worst Disney movies

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Film Action and adventure

Disney goes back to the future

‘Meet the Robinsons’ is the Tim Henman of animated features: likeable and with a few aces up its sleeve, but hardly inspiring stuff. Every character is an archetype – from the lonely science whizz kid to the nerve-racked robot – and the script merely supplies jovial quips where there should be jokes. The film was made just as Disney merged with Pixar, and suffers by comparison with the latter studio's catalogue. Still, the time-travelling plot serves up enough twists and neat gags to charm the kids. Alex Dudok de Wit

Read review

41
Make Mine Music, Best and worst Disney movies

Make Mine Music (1946)

Film Animation

The jazz ‘Fantasia’

Created over several years after most of the Disney staff were drafted to fight in Word War II, ‘Make Mine Music’ is a compilation film consisting of ten shorts set to music by popular artists of the day. It’s inevitably a mixed bag, but the highlights – including controversially violent ‘The Martins and the Coys’ and experimental freakout ‘All the Cats Join In’ – are terrific. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
42
Oliver & Company, Best and worst Disney movies

Oliver & Company (1988)

Film Family and kids

Oliver with a kitten twist. No catastrophe

‘Oliver & Company’ is the last film made before the Disney Renaissance, a decade of solid gold winners that began with ‘The Little Mermaid’. And it shows. This is Disney still believing that a dog in sunglasses is cool in a retelling of Charles Dickens’ tale of little orphan Oliver Twist with a stray kitten in 1980s New York. Cath Clarke

Read review

43
Fun & Fancy Free, Best and worst Disney movies

Fun & Fancy Free (1947)

Film Animation

The end of an era

Fun fact: ‘Fun & Fancy Free’ was the last time Uncle Walt himself voiced Mickey. Two short segments make up this enjoyable film: ‘Bongo’ the tale of a circus bear who wants to roam free, and ‘Mickey and the Beanstalk’ in which everyone’s favourite mouse stars in a riff on the classic boy vs giants fairy tale. Keith Uhlich

Read review

Advertising
44
The Emperor’s New Groove, Best and worst Disney movies

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

Film Comedy

Wacky shenanigans in pre-Columbian America

Some of the plotting feels a little strained – Incan royals and slapstick aren’t natural bedfellows – but this tale of llamas and land grabs has a unique vibe that eventually settles into something close to fun. The production was troubled; it’s enough that Disney got a coherent movie out of it (if not a smash). And – whisper it – Sting’s musical number, ‘My Funny Friend and Me’, isn’t half bad. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

45
Bolt, Best and worst Disney movies

Bolt (2008)

Film

A CGI adventure nipping at Pixar’s heels

It must have been frustrating for Disney when their junior partners at Pixar (not to mention those upstarts at Dreamworks and Blue Sky) began to surpass them at the box office. The response was ‘Bolt’, a witty, enjoyable but ever-so-slightly try-hard digital adventure about a movie-star dog. Still, the geeky hamster Rhino is an absolute treat. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
46
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, Best and worst Disney movies

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949)

Film Animation

Tricks and a treat from a 1940s double-bill

WWII put the brakes on Walt Disney’s plan for a full-length ‘Wind in the Willows’. A short version, ‘Mr Toad’, was eventually released as a double-bill with another short – an adaptation of Washington Irving’s spooky ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. ‘Mr Toad’ is a treat, trotting along at breakneck pace. The final scene of ‘Ichabold’, as horsemen terrorise the lanky schoolmaster, is a masterclass in family friendly scares. Cath Clarke

Read review

47
The Great Mouse Detective, Best and worst Disney movies

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Film Family and kids

Sherlock squeaks!

Disney rifles through yet another beloved British kids’ novel (‘Basil of Baker St’ by Eve Titus) for this tale of a mouse who resides in the cellar of 221b Baker Street. It’s not quite up to classic standards, but the characters are lively, the voice cast (including Vincent Price) are well chosen and the film’s representation of foggy Victorian London is surprisingly atmospheric. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
48
The Fox and the Hound, Best and worst Disney movies

The Fox and the Hound

Film Family and kids

We’re all the same beneath our fur, man

This is a sweet, sometimes moving tale of the friendship between a young fox and a hunting dog who live next door as kids but meet later as enemies in the forest. It has enough to say about prejudice and the innocence of youth to not be dismissed as minor. In the history of Disney animation, it’s notable for the arguments and splits during production between Disney founding animators and a new guard coming up through the ranks. Dave Calhoun

Read review

49
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Best and worst Disney movies

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Film Animation

Disney swaps a mischievous mouse for a noble bear

The last Disney feature in which Walt was involved isn’t actually a feature so much as a portmanteau film composed of three previously released shorts from the late ’60s plus one new one. Visually rather static, ‘Winnie the Pooh’ relies on the charms of A A Milne’s original characters for its kicks – though the conceit of a voiceover narrator who flips through the pages of the story yields some nice animated gags. Eeyore would steal the show if he had more screen time. Alex Dudok de Wit

Read review

See numbers 30-21
40
Lilo & Stitch, Best and worst Disney movies

Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Film Family and kids

Disney raid the Looney Tunes back catalogue

Closer to a Tasmanian Devil cartoon than a traditional Disney feature, ‘Lilo & Stitch’ is a rare blast of chaotic fun amid all the fairytales and morals. The tale of a sweet Hawaiian girl and her insane, ravenous, Elvis-obsessed extra-terrestrial pal, this is non-stop mayhem in the best possible sense. Tom Huddleston

Read review

41
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Best and worst Disney movies

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Film Animation

Race, rioting, religion and raunch – Disney gets dark!

Those who expected Disney to transform Victor Hugo’s famously gritty and complex anti-religious novel into a jolly, kid-friendly romp were only half right. This is without doubt the darkest Disney flick to date, tackling themes of sexual obsession, religious hypocrisy and rampant materialism. Sure, everyone lives happily ever after, but it’s a grim and gripping ride to get there. Tom Huddleston

Read review

Advertising
42
Winnie the Pooh, Best and worst Disney movies

Winnie the Pooh (2011)

Film Family and kids

Portly yellow bear can’t kick his honey addiction

This delightfully digressive feature follows Pooh and his friends (Eeyore, Tigger, et al) as they go in search of the sweet golden treasure, even sailing on a sea of honey in one especially gorgeous sequence. It’s a keeper. Keith Uhlich

Read review

43
The Rescuers, Best and worst Disney movies

The Rescuers (1977)

Film Family and kids

They don’t call it the Mouse House for nothing

If you happened to be the right age (raises hand), this mouse-terpiece was exactly the thrilling, swirling adventure advertised. The story of an the all-mouse Rescue Aid Society who go to the help of an orphan girl being held captive, ‘The Rescuers’ represents one of Disney's many comebacks: a solid critical and commercial success after years of duds. Joshua Rothkopf

Read review

Advertising
44
Tarzan, Best and worst Disney movies

Tarzan (1999)

Film Animation

He’s Tarzan, you’ll be drained

‘Tarzan’ is the last film in the decade-long Disney Renaissance, and while not quite a classic like ‘The Little Mermaid’ or ‘Beauty and the Beast’, there’s still a lot to love here. The aerial animation as Tarzan swings through the jungle is spectacular and there are some funny gags (‘Is it a sub species of elephant?’ ponders a gorilla looking at the little human cub). Tarzan’s sense of not belonging – to his gorilla family or mankind – is heart-touching and surprisingly moving. Cath Clarke

Read review

45
The AristoCats, Best and worst Disney movies

The AristoCats (1970)

Film Family and kids

Not purr-fect but catchy songs go a long way

The first film made after Walt Disney’s death follows an aristocratic feline and her kittens as they try to reclaim their stolen fortune with the help of a back-alley stray. It’s a charming adventure, with plenty of fun musical numbers – like the jazzy ‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’ – thrown in for good, toe-tapping measure. Keith Uhlich

Read review

Advertising
46
The Princess and the Frog, Best and worst Disney movies

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Film Animation

Seventy years on, we finally have a black Disney heroine

Retro was the order of the day when Disney embarked on their first hand-drawn film in several years. The result feels at once classic and modern, with its creaky fairytale narrative transplanted to New Orleans and buoyed up by Randy Newman’s memorable oompah soundtrack and some lively voice casting. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, too. Tom Huddleston

Read review

47
Hercules, Best and worst Disney movies

Hercules (1997)

Film Family and kids

A gift from the animation gods

Some find the smart-arse wisecracking in ‘Hercules’ irritating, but they’re wrong. Disney might have mangled ancient Greek myth with their reimagining of Hercules as a none-too-bright but lovable lunkhead. But this film is a winner, infectiously funny and chock-full of gags. Best of all is the deliciously droll, adult-friendly villain Hades, with his hapless sidekicks Pain and Panic. Cath Clarke

Read review

Advertising
48
Best Disney films: Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Film Animation

It won’t shiver your timbers but it’s a giggle

Steering clear of the darkness, Disney amped up the comedy of JM Barrie’s play. Blustery Captain Hook is a loveable bad guy, hotly pursued by an ever-ravenous crocodile. The knockabout action, meanwhile, suggests that the Disney team had one eye on Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes cartoons. The best adaptation of Barrie’s play. Trevor Johnston

‘Peter Pan’ is number 100 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

49
Films to watch before the end of 2016: Moana

Moana (2016)

Film Animation

Sail away, sail away

Stories of plucky princesses realising their potential aren’t exactly new. But what makes ‘Moana’ soar is its total commitment to feminist principles, witty script and strong tunes, and most of all Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as demi-god Maui. He’s the kind of muscular, self-involved but well-meaning doofus that Disney cartoons do so well.

Read review

See numbers 20-11
40
Alice in Wonderland, Best and worst Disney movies

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Film Animation

Walt weirds out with a whimsical tale

For years Walt Disney had wanted to animate Lewis Carroll’s surreal children’s novel, and when he finally got round to it in the early 1950s, he stuck pretty close to the original. Faithful to the John Tenniel illustrations (with added Disney cuteness) this is a love letter to Carroll’s visual imagination and playful language. A shame then, that it doesn’t quite manage to turn schoolgirl Alice’s odyssey into a satisfying story. Trevor Johnston

‘Alice in Wonderland’ is number 82 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

41
Robin Hood, Best and worst Disney movies

Robin Hood (1973)

Film Animation

Hippie-era outlaw cool comes to Sherwood Forest

‘The Jungle Book’ director Wolfgang Reitherman’s decision to transplant hokey cowboy tropes to Merrie England should have been awful. But ‘Robin Hood’ is so sweet natured that it’s impossible to complain. The tiny budget meant that all the characters were lifted from earlier hits (check out Little John, the brown Baloo), and yet somehow this only adds to the film’s shaggy-dog charm. Tom Huddleston

‘Robin Hood’ is number 81 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

Advertising
42
The Lion King, Best and worst Disney movies

The Lion King (1994)

Film Animation

The circle of life puts Disney back on top

Everyone (and that includes everyone at Disney, whose animators all wanted to work on ‘Pocahontas’) was stunned when ‘The Lion King’ smashed the box office in 1994. But it’s not hard to see why. The heroes are loveable and relatable, while Scar is one of the best Disney villains ever, equal measures bored and devilish. The soundtrack by Tim Rice and Elton John is exceedingly hummable and the animation is gorgeous. Cath Clarke

‘The Lion King’ is number 72 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

Advertising
44
Tangled, Best and worst Disney movies

Tangled (2010)

Film Animation

A thoroughly modern Disney villainess

The Rapunzel fairytale gets a Disney overhaul, with a sparky princess who doesn’t need a prince charming to help her escape. Filled with energy and humour, this is near-vintage Disney. Best of all is the villainess, Mother Gothel, who looks like Cher and behaves like a hip mum on a bad trip. This manipulative madam has no special powers, so must rely on her acid tongue to keep Rapunzel in check. Cath Clarke

‘Tangled’ is number 54 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

45
Zootopia

Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) (2016)

Film Animation

Tooth and claw

Imagine ‘LA Confidential’ with a cast of talking animals and you’ve got a basic grasp of this inventive, witty and unexpectedly disturbing modern Disney classic. All her friends laugh when fluffy bunny Judy announces her intention to join the Zootopia police force, but she’s soon hot on the trail of corruption, crime and carnivorous murder...

Read review

Advertising
46
Aladdin, Best and worst Disney movies

Aladdin (1992)

Film Animation

A new animated age began here

‘Aladdin’ heralded the modern era of animation. The cave of wonders sequence saw a major Disney feature employing computer animation for the first time, while the appearance of Robin Williams was a landmark in the use of celebrity voices. Most importantly, the film’s success proved that people were again ready to hand over their cash to a cartoon spectacular. Tom Huddleston

‘Aladdin’ is number 68 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

47
Frozen, Best and worst Disney movies

Frozen (2013)

Film Animation

Back to basics with a sparky fairytale

Here’s a throwback to Disney’s classic era, with tongue firmly in cheek and belting out showtunes (the stage musical cannot be far behind). The shiny veneer may mask traditional ideals, but there’s no denying the ridiculously high entertainment value: ‘Frozen’ is beautifully animated, breathlessly paced and winningly goofy. Tom Huddleston

‘Frozen’ is number 67 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

Advertising
48
Sleeping Beauty, Best and worst Disney movies

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Film Family and kids

The evil fairy steals the show

They don’t call her the Mistress of Evil for nothing. Maleficent might just be the most villainous of Disney’s villainesses, cursing the newborn princess Aurora to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die before her 16th birthday. Why? All because she wasn’t invited to the little princess’s christening. Talk about bearing a grudge. Cath Clarke

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is number 66 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Read review

See the top ten
40
Little Mermaid, Disney

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Film Animation

Disney gets its mojo back

This cheery adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale set a new template for Disney animation. That formula – take a story everyone knows, preferably featuring a plucky princess, then add a bunch of catchy-as-chlamydia show tunes – still works. But ‘The Little Mermaid’ also has emotional resonance and staying power… plus sea witch Ursula is surely among the greatest Disney villains. Guy Lodge

‘The Little Mermaid’ is number 44 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

41
cinderella, disney

Cinderella (1950)

Film Animation

The start of something beautiful

The elements of the story are now bedrock components of the Disney formula: plucky heroine, gang of animal sidekicks, the promise of total transformation. But this hit was, by no estimates, a sure thing. Fortunately, the charm offensive proved overwhelming. If you love the brand’s theme parks (and doesn’t that castle look familiar?), here’s the movie that allowed them to happen. Joshua Rothkopf

‘Cinderella’ is number 43 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Advertising
42
beauty and the beast, disney

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Film Animation

The magic comes together for a Disney classic

Witty and charming, sunnily confident and filled with cockle-warming innocence, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ harks back to the Disney glory days. But it also took the studio to a new level – becoming the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. What works? The emotional heart of the story plus a soaring, Broadway-on-steroids score. Not to mention the adorable talking objects in the castle. Trevor Johnston

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is number 33 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

43
jungle book, disney

The Jungle Book (1967)

Film Animation

The hippies are taking over the studio

Were the Disney animators passing the bong around when they made ‘The Jungle Book’? Just look at the vultures (who bear more than a passing resemblance to The Beatles). Hippy-ish 1960s vibe aside, ‘The Jungle Book’ stars some of Disney’s best-loved characters, including Baloo (the Bill Murray of bears) and the devilish Shere Khan. And its musical numbers have never been beaten: ‘Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ are pure heaven. Cath Clarke

‘The Jungle Book’ is number 29 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Advertising
44
bambi, disney

Bambi (1942)

Film Animation

Walt Disney’s favourite movie (if he did say so himself)

In medieval times, they tested for witchcraft by dunking suspects in water. Perhaps they could test for serial killers today with the scene of Bambi’s mother dying. Walt Disney called ‘Bambi’ ‘the best picture I have ever made, and the best ever to come out of Hollywood’. And he might have a point. At any rate, Thumper really should have won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Cath Clarke

‘Bambi’ is number 24 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

45
101 dalmatians, disney

101 Dalmatians (1961)

Film

I got 99 problems…

She is perhaps the most villainous of Disney villainesses. Where you see an adorable puppy, Cruella De Vil sees a fashion statement. Her evil plan is to turn 99 adorable dogs into a coat. With its London setting, ‘101 Dalmatians’ pulls Disney into the modern age, casting off fairy godmothers and princesses. And the twilight bark is Disney at its best. Cath Clarke

‘101 Dalmatians’ is number 23 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Advertising
46
fantasia, disney

Fantasia (1940)

Film Animation

Classical kitsch of the highest order

While in postproduction on Mickey Mouse comeback ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, Walt Disney decided to surround the short with similar classical-music-scored vignettes. ‘Fantasia’ was born. Silly and sublime, in which a hippo and an alligator do a slapstick ballet and even the devil himself appears, it’s one of the studio’s finest. Keith Uhlich

‘Fantasia’ is number 13 in our list of the 100 best animated movies

47
snow white, disney

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Film Animation

Disney’s feature-length debut is still effortlessly charming

It may not have been the first animated feature, but with ‘Snow White’ Walt Disney and his animators created an entirely new genre. Just look at ‘Frozen’ and ask how far mainstream animation has really advanced: ‘Snow White’ has brave heroines, hunky but slightly dumb dudes, slapstick sidekicks, gorgeous animation, unforgettable tunes and the greatest femme fatale in film history. Tom Huddleston

‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ is number eight in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Advertising
48
dumbo, disney

Dumbo (1941)

Film Animation

Ain’t nobody’s fault he’s got them big ears

Unromantically, the idea for ‘Dumbo’ came from the prototype of a new toy. But this tale of a baby elephant born into a traveling circus is tender, moving and packed with energy. At its heart is a piercingly sad story of a mother separated from her child. That’s pretty straightforward, but Disney finds room for inventive set pieces. The jazzy dance of the pink elephants when Dumbo mistakenly gets drunk is a scene for the ages. Dave Calhoun

‘Dumbo’ is number six in our list of the 100 best animated movies

49
pinocchio, disney

Pinocchio (1940)

Film Animation

The best animated movie ever?

The high point of Disney’s invention comes with its second feature – still the studio's most magical. The film begins with a sweetly singing cricket, yet plunges into scenes from a nightmare: Pinocchio’s extending schnozz is animation’s most sinister and profound metaphor. Containing a universe of anxiety and wonder, this movie is nothing short of immortal. Joshua Rothkopf

‘Pinocchio’ is number one in our list of the 100 best animated movies

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising