It kind of drives me a little nuts when people feel it’s appropriate to divide animation into two categories: Disney and Non-Disney.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 38. Fantasia 2000 (1999) | ★★★★½
Favorite characters: Donald Duck & the Spring Sprite
Favorite scene: "Rhapsody in Blue"
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I saw this movie. I was obsessed with the original Fantasia as a child, and used to force my friends to watch the video if they’d never seen it. I was in New York City the first time I saw this film, and it was also my first IMAX film. It was amazing and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I know some people find the Fantasia films boring, but I think anyone who has an appreciation for music or art would enjoy them.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 36. Mulan (1998) | ★★★★★
Favorite characters: Mulan & Chien-Po
Favorite scene: ”I’ll Make a Man Out of You”
I love this movie so much. It’s hard for me to even tell you. I get way too excited about this movie. Mulan is one of my favorite Disney girls. She’s just amazing, flawless, beautiful, and a badass. I think Shang and Mulan are one of the best couples because they got to know each other on an equal plane and still apparently “fell in love.” All the auxiliary characters are perfect, and Mushu has a lot of great one-liners. The music and the animation is beautiful. And it was so hard to choose just one favorite scene. I chose “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” because it’s obviously a classic and it just makes me insanely happy. But I also love the reprise of that song (which everyone seems to forget about), the scene where Mulan starts the avalanche, the scene where Mulan decides to go in her father’s place and cuts off her hair, the scene where everyone bows to Mulan, and so many others. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite movies of all time, Disney or otherwise.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 35. Hercules (1997) | ★★★★
Favorite characters: Meg & Hades
Favorite scene: ”Zero to Hero”
As Disney Renaissance movies go, I honestly think this is one of the weaker ones. But that doesn’t by any means make it a bad movie - this is the Renaissance we’re talking about, after all. The only specific problems I have with this movie are the CGI and the handling of Greek mythology. Greek mythology is a personal lifelong obsession of mine, and they jumble it up a lot in a way that makes me cringe - but I know that Disney adaptations are not usually meant to be entirely faithful to their source material, so I deal. I have more of a problem with the CGI in the movie, particularly in the scene with the Hydra, and how out of place it looks in an animated work styled like a painting on a Greek vase. But, as I said, it’s still a great movie, and it makes me smile.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 18. The Sword in the Stone (1963) | ★★½
Favorite characters: Merlin & Archimedes
Favorite scene: ”Higitus Figitus” (the first one)
This movie is cute, but I don’t really care for the animation style at all and Arthur is like… really annoying. The only good characters, in my opinion, are Merlin and Archimedes. Luckily they make the movie somewhat enjoyable to watch. Another problem with the movie, I found, is that I just didn’t feel any real emotional connection to it like I often do with Disney movies (both past and present). I guess what I’m saying is that the “Disney magic” I’m so used to just wasn’t there. It was disappointing. I remembered not caring for this movie as a kid, but I figured as an adult and a lover of Arthurian legends I would appreciate it, but… I guess my childhood judgement was right on.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 17. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) | ★★★★
Favorite characters: Anita & Roger Radcliffe
Favorite scene: ”Cruella de Vil”
While I can understand why Walt didn’t like the animation on this movie, I actually think it’s sort of suiting to the time period and the story, but maybe that’s because I’ve never experienced it any other way. This movie screams 60s to me, and I love it. I think Roger and Anita are one of the cutest Disney couples of all time, and Pongo is just such a fun narrator.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 16. Sleeping Beauty (1959) | ★★★½
Favorite characters: Fauna & Aurora
Favorite scene: ”Once Upon a Dream”
It’s no secret that I love princess movies. Actually, Sleeping Beauty might just be my least favorite. “Once Upon a Dream” is probably my favorite Disney song of all time, but on an overall basis I just don’t think this movie is as great as it could be. I’ve always felt like certain scenes dragged on or were unnecessary, but, at the same time, a lot of things in this movie are great. Maleficent is a great villain, Phillip was the first prince to really have a personality, and I adore the fairies. But for some reason I feel like this movie wound up being less than the sum of its parts.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 15. Lady and the Tramp (1955) | ★★★★
Favorite characters: Tramp & Jock
Favorite scene: ”Bella Notte”
Why are the best Disney love stories always about animals? That’s the way it seems sometimes, anyway. Pongo and Perdita, Duchess and Thomas O’Malley, Simba and Nala - and Lady and Tramp! This movie is just the cutest.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 14. Peter Pan (1953) | ★★★★★
Favorite characters: Tiger Lily & Peter Pan
Favorite scene: The Mermaid Lagoon
There is only one thing I don’t like about this movie: the implication, at the end, that it was all just Wendy’s dream. I mean, one could argue that it actually happened, but clearly, at the end, the ship was just a cloud and dissolved into a bunch of cloud pieces. That makes me sad. I don’t generally like when movies turn out to be just a dream (with the exception of Alice in Wonderland because, really, how could it not have been?) because I like the idea of magic being real and all that. It’s fantasy. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Oh well. I’ve harped on the negative but really this is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time and I just adore it.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 13. Alice in Wonderland (1951) | ★★★★★
Favorite characters: The Caterpillar & the Mome Raths
Favorite scene: The Trial
Love the book, love the movie. I adore Kathryn Beaumont and this watch-through has been giving me a new appreciation for Sterling Holloway so I was excited to recognize his voice as the Cheshire Cat. I never made the connection as a child even though I watched both this movie and the Winnie the Pooh movie so many times… I love this kind of nonsense because it’s a lot like how my dreams are. And the Carioca cameo? Let’s just say I wasn’t complaining…
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 12. Cinderella (1950) | ★★★★
Favorite characters: Jaq & Gus
Favorite scene: ”But you see, I have the other slipper…”
Some people like to pick on the older Disney movies and the whole idea of princesses, but I honestly don’t care. I love all the princess movies. People complain a lot about how Prince Charming is completely underdeveloped and it’s impossible to disagree - he has hardly any lines at all and appears only briefly. But I don’t think his personality is really all that relevant to the story, having watched it as an adult. It’s a story about Cinderella, and in the grand scheme of the storyline, the prince’s personality is pretty irrelevant.
Walt Disney Animation Studios | 11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) | ★★★
Favorite characters: Ratty & Katrina
Favorite scene: The New Year’s Celebration
I know I’ve seen this movie before, but I didn’t remember it at all, so I had very low expectations about it. Maybe that’s why I was so impressed by it. It’s certainly one of the better of the package films, although that’s not saying very much. I’ll just say I’m glad to have them behind me and to be moving on to Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan…