We’re all stuck inside — or at least, we should be — in search of entertainment as we continue to socially distance ourselves. Sure, you could binge watch a show or take a deep dive on YouTube. But there’s something about re-watching a classic that warms the heart, and that’s something we could all use at the moment.
And who does classics better than Disney?
With Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, fully up and running, there’s suddenly a vast catalog of Disney movies all in a single place. We’ve done the heavy lifting and rounded up the 13 best Disney movies available right now.
A caveat: With Disney owning so many different properties these days, we’ve had to narrow our focus to exclude entities like the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. Sorry to all the Wookies and Asgardians out there.
You’ve got to start with the classics. The tale of a wooden puppet on a journey to becoming a real boy, the story of Pinocchio truly stands the test of time. It’s a thrilling adventure, even if after re-watching it as an adult makes you realize it gets pretty darn real for a second there. If you don’t remember — and don’t worry, we didn’t either at first — a part of this movie takes place in an amusement park where misbehaving causes boys to turn into donkeys. Yeah, it gets bleak for a moment. We won’t spoil the 80-year-old movie for you, but trust us, it gets better.
Disney had been incorporating tear-jerking scenes into the beginning of movies long before 1994, but it’s hard to find a more emotional moment near a movie’s outset than in The Lion King. You know the one we’re talking about. The good news is you’re able to gather yourself just in time for a wonderful coming-of-age story filled with lovable, quotable characters and more than one song that will be stuck in your head for the next week.
Try not to get bogged down on the optics here. In 2020, a man kissing a sleeping woman admittedly isn’t the greatest look. Just try and keep in mind that this is an 83-year-old movie, enjoy the funny antics of the seven dwarves, and marvel at what was the first Disney feature film ever. It’s great in its own right, and paved the way for the many Disney flicks that came after it.
It may be one of the newer movies on this list, but Moana has all of the traits for a successful Disney movie. There’s a solid storyline, characters that you can easily invest in, humor throughout, and powerful meaning imbedded into the picture itself. Plus, seeing Dwayne Johnson sing one of the movie’s hit songs in real life almost never gets old.
If you’re like us, watching this just reminds you of how much we all miss Robin Williams. Sure, at its core, Aladdin is an incredible story following forbidden love and what that love will lead you to overcome. But has there been a more hilarious animated character in Disney history than Williams’ Genie? There’s probably an argument to make somewhere, but the big blue wish-granter absolutely stole the show.
Before Frozen came along, The Little Mermaid may have featured the catchiest Disney song. You know how we know? We don’t even have to name it, and you’re already singing along in your head. That’s not to mention this movie had a final-boss-level villain in Ursula who succeeded in making you love to root against her.
Speaking of Frozen, it was only a matter of time before this blockbuster appeared on the list. It sure didn’t seem that long ago that the world was caught up in a Frozen frenzy, and the song that showed up literally everywhere. Now that Disney has brought Frozen II to its platform early, you can get lost in this animated world long enough to take your mind away from the real one.
The original painful moment in animated cinema? We think so. Disney’s fifth animated feature film hit us with a true gut punch, then whisked us along for a compelling story about an orphaned deer. So compelling, in fact, that nearly 80 years after its release, Disney is rumored to be developing a live-action version of the timeless classic.
Can you name a better pairing of animated character and voice actor than Dory the forgetful fish and Ellen DeGeneres? Neither can we. With Dory serving up the right comedy at the right time, Finding Nemo brings us on an extraordinary adventure of a father swimming across the ocean in search of his son. If you’re in the mood for a solid sequel, Finding Dory is streaming on Disney+, too.
Probably the most quotable animated Disney movie, Toy Story helped a new generation of children imagine what their toys do in their spare time. As it turns out, they do quite a lot. Like, four surprisingly solid movies worth of stuff in their spare time. All four Toy Story movies, by the way, are available to stream on Disney+.
Coco was a smash hit in 2017, and if you missed out back then, it’s just as good three years later. It’s a story of a boy chasing his passion and searching for answers, told in an incredibly unique way and packed with emotion. It delves into heritages not often represented in Disney movies, and resonates with viewers young and old.
We mentioned one of the more classic emotional moments in Disney movies. Now, Up brings us one of the more modern examples of Disney breaking our heart before slowly repairing it in a feature-length film. Plus, it features one of the more odd duos in a Disney movie in recent memory. And it works so, so flawlessly as we follow the tale of a grumpy old man and a boy scout.
It sticks out as the only non-animated film on the list, at least so far. But for good reason. What Disney was able to do with the original Pirates of the Caribbean — transforming a theme park ride into a thrilling universe set on the high seas, starring Johnny Depp in what’s likely the defining role of his career — was nothing short of spectacular. It’s also the reason we’re getting a Jungle Cruise movie with The Rock and Emily Blunt. Let’s just not discuss the rest of the Pirates movies.
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