I’ve seen a lot of lists like this out there on the internet which try to rank from Best to Worst, or Worst to Best, the Best (and worst) Walt Disney Animated Films of all time. So here’s my take on the old classic “Top 10” (way more than 10 lol) Disney Films.
*For brevity’s sake, sequels and prequels are not included individually in this listing. When ranking for example “Cars”, I refer to the franchise as a whole, giving most focus to the first film but perhaps giving reference or mention to some of the sequels as well.*
Also for this review I have chosen to not include any of the Studio Ghibli films. I will create a similar list ranking those films in the near future. As well as seperate lists for Dreamworks, Don Bluth, and Warner Bros animated film.
Lastly, I have not seen every single Disney film (though I’ve seen probably over 80% of them). Any films I have not seen, will not be ranked, but instead included in an unranked list at the end of this article.
Collections of short films such as The Three Caballeros and Make Mine Music were not included in either of these lists. I’ve also omitted Disney films which combined animation with live action such as Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks, Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon, James and the Giant Peach, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, So Dear to My Heart, and Song of the South.
What are some of your favorite Disney Films? Leave a comment below.
Here’s how I would rank every Disney Film – I’ll start with the Best so you don’t have to scroll too much. <3
62 Disney Animated Feature Length Films Ranked From Best to Worst:
1.) The Lion King
It is true (though Disney denies it) that this film completely ripped off an anime called Kimba the White Lion. Yes, they took everything from this film, the Lions, Zazu, the hyenas, even Simba and Kimba’s father speaking to them in the clouds, and even Scar! Complete with the scar over his eye and everything. — Yup, totally infringed on someone’s intellectual property rights… but still… The Lion King is my favorite Disney film… They took Kimba and made it about a million times better (that doesn’t make what they did “right” or “ok” Clearly, Kimba’s creators should have been paid some royalty fees). But Disney was able to take an already great family story and make it even better. Better animation, better acting, better music, and a better story, because they condensed down a TV series into a movie format, cutting out a lot of filler episodes, while hitting the emotional highlights.
If you want to learn more about what Disney did to Kimba, check out the videos below (not my videos, just sharing them with you):
EDIT: I now realize I got some information wrong in this video. I was under the impression that the 1997 Jungle Emperor Leo movie, which I show a lot of clips of in this video, began production before The Lion King. It didn’t – I got my information from IMDB, which I assumed was correct.
2.) Beauty and the Beast
A tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast is my 2nd favorite Disney film. It features a smart, bookworm heroine, who risks her life and freedom to save her father. It also is a great romance story, in which both the leading lady and leading male must learn to look past the surface to find true love. Don’t judge a book by the cover. If someone can love a beast, and the beast can finally learn to love someone for their mind/heart and not what’s on the outside, that love can do anything. It’s very romantic, and also parts of it are dark and frightening. Like all Disney films, it has great music, and the recent Live Action Musical adaptation is also fantastic! One of my favorite things about Beauty and the Beast is the imagery, all of the characters, and the beautiful setting. I just ordered a dress which has a beautiful stained glass print featuring the beauty and the beast.
3.) The Little Mermaid
I will always prefer the 1975 anime version of Hans Christian Andersen’s the Little Mermaid, because at the end she turns to sea foam. There is no happy ending. But sometimes with a love story, that’s OK and it makes it more dramatic. Almost any film can make me laugh, but it takes a very special film to make me cry. The 1975 anime version is also a more faithful adaptation of the original story. In the original fairy-tale, the mermaid is given one last chance for a happy ending. Her prince has already wed another woman, but the mermaid is told by her sisters that if she uses a magic poisoned dagger to kill the prince and his new wife, she can return back home to her father and sisters and live as a mermaid once again. Unable to bear the thought of hurting her true love, she chooses instead to wish him and his new wife a happy life together, and as the sun rises, she turns to sea foam, sacrificing her life and happiness in exchange for his.
Disney takes this sad tragic love story, and puts a cutesy Disney spin on it. Although the two films are very different, they are both great in their own rights. I love the side characters, music, and animation of the Disney version of the Little Mermaid. It’s also nice to imagine a happy ending once in awhile :).
If you have yet to see the anime version, Amazon is selling it for about $10. Click the image below to check it out. https://www.amazon.com/…
4.) The Good Dinosaur
Speaking of films that can make me cry… I balled like a baby (at several different scenes) in the theater when I went to see The Good Dinosaur. It’s a touching story about a dinosaur trying to get back home to his family. Similar in some ways to my childhood favorite, The Land before Time. Disney’s The Good Dinosaur is a heart touching film with beautiful and cute 3D animation. The scene with the fireflies is my favorite. The goofy looking characters, with their innocent designs, totally deceive you into thinking this is a funny or cute film. I was not prepared for how heart stirring it was going to be. It’s also very dramatic and full of suspense and twists and turns and surprises. That’s why it’s in my top 5 Disney films of all time.
5.) Monster’s Inc.
Finishing out my top 5 favorite Disney Films is Monster’s Inc. This movie is full of charming and cute characters. It is equally funny and touching. A very heart warming movie. Boo, Mike, and Sully are some of the best original characters Disney has ever designed. Monsters Inc is quite possibly the cutest disney movie of all time. The sequels were also cute, though of course, not as good as the original.
6.) Finding Nemo / Finding Dory
I actually saw Finding Dory first, before Finding Nemo, somehow I missed out on Nemo, even though it was very popular with millennials. According to this chart being born in 1981, I could consider myself a Millennial, or a Gen Y, or Gen Next (never even heard of that one). So Nemo seems to be THE Disney movie of my generation… but I actually didn’t see it when it premiered in 2003. I wouldn’t see it for over 12 years after that, but yet, this film proves to have held up to the tests of time. It was just as enjoyable, new, fresh, charming, and heart warming to me as it was to the millions of fans it earned at release. I loved Dory, especially baby Dory. She might be my favorite Disney character ever. So for that reason, I actually enjoyed Finding Dory more than Finding Nemo. Both films are funny and beautifully animated, and tell a heart warming story about the meaning of family.
Disney’s Up is such a sad, touching, beautiful film about true love and loss, and growing up, and growing old together, and a story of adventure and excitement, and to never ever give up on your dreams. It’s a remarkable story. Storywise alone, it’s probably my favorite story from any Disney film. There’s no way to watch this movie and not cry. Out of all of the Disney films in our list, this one feels the most mature and grown up. Its tone is darker and sadder and more thought provoking than most Disney films. And then there’s that Disney charm and humor, with Doug the talking dog and other minor characters. The message behind Disney’s Up is so “Up”lifting. This is a movie full of heart and emotion.
Aladdin is one of the first Disney films I can remember seeing in theaters. Don’t get me wrong, I’d seen others, I know I saw 101 Dalmatians and Rescuers and other older films before this one. In fact one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater is Disney’s Snow White, and I am told it scared me until I cried lol. But my memories of seeing this one as opposed to the rest are crystal clear. And it may be that nostalgia that plays a part in how highly I rank Disney’s Aladdin on my list. I recall who I was with (my mom and best friend and her mom and brother), I can recall all of the characters, music, animation… Robin Williams as the genie, such a classic film. One of the great masterpieces of my childhood.
9.) The Nightmare Before Christmas
This is not just one of my favorite Disney films, but one of my favorite films from any studio, animated, or otherwise, of all time. I love the music, the characters, and I love Halloween. It has always been one of my favorite holidays. I also love other Tim burton films, such as beetle juice, the corpse bride, and Edward scissor hands to name a few. His stories are always so unique and I’m surprised and intrigued in how he can take a macabre subject and put a comic spin on it, and make it even a family film, such as the Nightmare Before Christmas.
This is another one of those Disney “fan favorites” that I missed at its initial release. I actually just watched Frozen for the first time a few months ago and even though I’m older than the majority of the Frozen fans, I totally agree that it is one of the best Disney films of all time. It finishes out in the final Top 10 spot on my list. I loved the story and the characters. My favorite thing was seeing how the characters changed and grew through the film. Initially Elsa is the more friendly outgoing bubbly type, but events occur which change her to isolated and aloof. Anna had been more shy, but as she grew with freedoms that Elsa lacked, she developed a natural curiosity for the world and a strong sense of adventure. Elsa struggles with the responsibilities placed on her young shoulders. Finally she can be free, and this is even highlighted in the lyrics to the very popular well known song, in which Elsa climbs the stairs of her ice castle barricading herself off from the outside world so that she can finally be her TRUE self. It’s a story about accepting and loving yourself, accepting and loving others, and having courage to be different or come to terms with those differences and individualizes. The film is often championed by the LGBT community and there are rumors that the sequel will feature a lesbian love interest for Elsa, marking the first time a Disney feature length animated film will have a gay or lesbian main character. This is controversial and a departure from the family values Disney has always tried to champion. However, in modern times, what makes a family is changing, and Disney too is changing to reflect more modern values. In this story, Elsa and Anna must rely on themselves and each other. The “prince” even betrays them and acts as the central villain in pushing the plot forward. This is a strong film featuring themes of independence and courage. It’s also charming and full of excitement as most Disney films are. The side characters such as sven and olaf are hilarious and cute. There are many people who love to hate on this film. But hating on something just because it’s popular is dumb. Sometimes that popularity is well deserved. While it’s not the best Disney film of all time, it still cinches the final spot on the “Top 10” list.
Disney’s frozen was supposedly loosely based on Han’s Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, though a number of liberties were taken.
If you’re interested in reading the original tale, you can read it for free here: http://hca.gilead.org.il/snow_que.html
You can also find over 170 variations of this tale on Amazon.
This one has the best ratings and reviews because of its illustrations by an award winning Ukranian artist: http://amzn.to/2Fgq4kw
This one has the original illustrations from hundreds of years ago: http://amzn.to/2CvQHPA
There’s also an anime based on the Snow Queen from 2005 https://www.anime-planet.com/anime/snow-queen-the
In the original tale it was a boy and girl, who were friends, not siblings. The main plot centered around a magic mirror that broke and a shard went into one of their eyes distorting their view of the world and changing their outlook/personality. The other character sets off on a journey to try to remove the shard from her friend’s eye and restore his kind heart. At the end of her journey, about to give up, the gods tell her that she already has everything she needs to save the young boy, and that her true power has always already existed within herself.
The only similarity at all in the tales is that they are set in a snowy place, and at the end, the characters are glad to see that it is finally summer again.
Alternatively there have been 2 legal allegations raised that Disney has once again stolen this story from another creator.
The first of which is some incredibly obscure Peruvian author that almost no one has ever heard of, who says that Frozen is based on memoirs she had published about her own life. The memoirs, “Living My Truth” and “Yearnings of the Heart”, by Isabella Tanikumi. The guardian reports that “Both the memoirs and Frozen feature loving sisters, one of whom causes the other to be injured and then hides herself away from public life through shame.” They go on to report that “One of the sisters has suitors named Hans and Cristoff in the memoirs; in Frozen Anna develops romantic attachments to men named Hans and Kristoff.” That seems like more than just a coincidence to me… The judge however ruled that these claims were too “generic” – I don’t agree with that ruling because it even lists specific names and characters – that’s pretty “specific” right there – which is the very opposite of something being “generic”, but hey this is Disney, they can get out of almost anything – but then again who’s to say that this author isn’t just looking to make a grab at Disney’s money since this is the best selling Disney film of all time.
The other lawsuit alleges that Disney once again turned to Japan for inspiration and cites numerous similarities between Frozen and the 1980s anime Saint Seiya. The similarities here include similarities between Elsa and Anna and the 2 Saint Characters (who are also sisters), Hilda and Freya. In both cases, the younger sibling has no magical powers and wishes to save her older sister and her kingdom. The older sister wields magic powers that controls snow and ice. Both of the older sisters used to be kind, until their personalities suddenly change.
But you know what they say, every idea you will ever have, someone else has had that exact same idea already. It’s all about who can execute their ideas. And there are no original ideas left in the world, and so on… So meh, at the end of the day, we may never know if Disney blatantly copied anything from either of these 2 sources…
Walt Disney’s Cars just barely misses a spot on our “list of the top 10 Disney movies”. I remember an old commercial (not related to CARS, I believe it was for Exxon Edit: It was actually for Chevron) where the cars all had happy faces and could talk, etc. It was something about how their fuel made your cars happy. I believe this came out well before the first CARS movie… But the concept was charming and cute. I don’t know if Pixar made these commercials, or has ever seen these commercials, or perhaps felt inspired by the commercials… but the similarities to the characters in Cars is quite apparent.
Here is a compilation of Chevron with Techron commercials that aired throughout the 1990s and 2000s. They featured all kinds of claymated (and later CGI animated) talking cars and trucks. The Chevron Cars have been seen on television since 1995, and a toy line was also manufactured from 1995 to 2010.