The final month of 2022 is here, and Disney+ is planning a Merry Christmas for subscribers. This month, the animated film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, is skipping theaters and going direct-to-Disney+. And although it isn’t on the schedule yet, you will probably be able to stream the new animated film, Strange World, by Christmas Day. In the meantime, you’ll just have to settle for a powerhouse lineup that includes almost every movie in the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic libraries. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving! If you want to find the right film for you to watch, check out our updated list of the best movies on Disney+ right now.
If you’ve yet to do so, be sure to check out the Disney Bundle, which will get you Disney+, ESPN+, and a basic Hulu subscription for just $14 a month. You’re essentially getting three streaming services for the price of two, which is one heck of a deal.
Originally produced for the TV show 20/20, Black Panther: In Search of Wakanda is a documentary that focuses on the history of the Black Panther in comics and film. From his origins in the ‘60s to his big-screen superstardom, there’s a lot to unpack here from the celebrity talking heads. Director Ryan Coogler also shares some advanced looks at the sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Perhaps most significantly, the wife of the late Chadwick Boseman, Simone Ledward Boseman, shares her thoughts about the legacy of her husband and his iconic portrayal of T’Challa on-screen.
National Geographic’s Fire of Love is the rare documentary that doubles as a love story and an appreciation for nature’s fury. Unfortunately, it is also a tragedy. The film showcases Katia and Maurice Krafft, a pair of French volcanologists whose passion for each other was only matched for the work they shared. Together, they traveled the world and essentially became volcano chasers. They chronicled their journey with stunning pictures and videos before they lost their lives in a volcanic explosion. Regardless, their story — and their love — is still inspiring.
This week marks the debut of Zootopia+, the spinoff from Zootopia. So it’s a good time to revisit 2016’s crowd-pleasing animated hit. The titular Zootopia is the name of an idyllic city inhabited by anthropomorphic talking animals who have very human-like lives. Young Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a passionate police officer who is very committed to her job, while con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) doesn’t care about anyone but himself. However, Hopps and Wilde soon find themselves drawn together as they uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of Zootopia itself.
There’s a new sing-along version of Mary Poppins Returns on Disney+, but you’ll have a blast whether you’re singing or simply enjoying the modern sequel. Emily Blunt steps into the title role as Mary, as she reenters the lives of her former charges, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer). Michael now has three children of his own, John (Nathanael Saleh), Annabel (Pixie Davies), and Georgie (Joel Dawson); all of whom miss their late mother.
Can Mary help this family heal from their wounds and reconnect with each other while preventing the dastardly bank from stealing their home? You’d better believe that she can! And she does it in style, and with a few musical numbers from her friend, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda).
Who could have ever predicted that one of Pixar’s greatest movies, Inside Out, takes place almost entirely within the mind of an eleven-year-old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias)? When we see Riley in the real world, she’s struggling with a move that has her sliding into depression. Inside her head, we meet the emotions that call the shots in her brain: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). When Joy and Sadness clash, they are accidentally locked out of Riley’s control center. This forces them to team up for a perilous journey through Riley’s mind to reclaim their proper positions.
Hocus Pocus 2 completely skipped theaters, and it pulled off a coup by getting Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker to reprise their roles as the evil witches Winnie, Mary, and Sarah Sanderson, respectively. Nearly three decades after they were vanquished, the Sandersons are resurrected by Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo), two teenage girls who want to be witches themselves. When Becca and Izzy realize that they’ve been tricked into unleashing the Sandersons, they are forced to reconcile with their former friend, Cassie Traske (Lilia Buckingham), if they are to have any hope of banishing the sisters again.
In retrospect, Muppets Haunted Mansion is the perfect fusion of two Disney properties that don’t ordinarily overlap. Unlike the Haunted Mansion movie starring Eddie Murphy, the titular home of 999 ghosts is much closer to its Disney origins in this tale. Two Muppets, Gonzo, and Pepe are roped into staying in the Haunted Mansion for a single night — if they can withstand the terror. There are a lot of celebrity ghosts in this special, which is to say that there are a lot of cameos by man and Muppet alike.
Would you believe that one of Disney’s best horror stories comes from an anthology released in 1949? The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’s adaptation of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has some genuinely unsettling moments when poor Ichabod Crane comes face-to-no-face with the infamous Headless Horseman. Ichabod’s fear of the supernatural makes it worse for him, but there’s definitely someone chasing him through Sleepy Hollow on this fateful night!
The other story in this film is a wonderful take on Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, which follows the misadventures of Mr. Toad. When Toad finally gets into too much trouble to handle, it falls on his friends Angus MacBadger, Ratty, and Moley to help him reclaim his good name and freedom.
Hocus Pocus became a Halloween tradition for Disney fans long before it spawned a Disney+ sequel. But the original remains the better of the two films. In the late 17th century, the Sanderson sisters Winnie (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) use their evil witchcraft to steal the lifeforce of Thackery Binx’s (Sean Murray) sister, before turning Binx into a cat. The witches even manage to set up their own resurrection and cheat death.
In the present, Binx is still alive when Max Dennison (Omri Katz) accidentally brings the witches back to life. With Binx’s aid, Max, his sister Dani (Thora Birch), and Allison Watts (Vinessa Shaw) need to find a way to survive Halloween and prevent the Sandersons from taking any more victims before the end of the day.
Pixar’s Onward may seem like an odd choice for Halloween viewing, but it is appropriate for the season. In this magical world of elves and other fairy tale creatures, Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland), and his older brother, Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), come across a spell that will temporarily resurrect their late father. Unfortunately for the two elf brothers, the spell goes awry and only brings back their father’s legs.
With only a short time to finish the spell and get emotional closure, the Lightfoot brothers go on a quest alongside their father’s legs. At the same time, they have to come to terms with each other, even if it threatens to completely derail their shared goal.
Someday, someone could make a good movie about all of the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding The New Mutants film. For various reasons, this Marvel adaptation was delayed for years and years before getting a very short stay in theaters. We can’t argue that it’s among the greatest Marvel movies, but The New Mutants does do something very different and Halloween-appropriate by embracing horror. After experiencing the deaths of her parents, Danielle “Dani” Moonstar (Blu Hunt) finds herself locked up in a medical facility alongside four other mutants: Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams), Samuel “Sam” Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), and Roberto “Bobby” da Costa (Henry Zaga).
The kids believe that they are being trained to become the next generation of X-Men. However, their guardian, Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), may have a more sinister agenda. At the same time, the young mutants discover that their greatest fears are taking physical form and coming after them one by one.
Disney’s Into the Woods now has a sing-along version on Disney+, which you can stream in place of the primary edition. Of course, it’s a fun film either way. In this remix of classic fairy tales, a Baker (James Corden) and the Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) suffer under the curse of a Witch (Meryl Streep) who has cursed them to remain childless. The couple’s lone recourse is to procure rare objects, including a blood-red cape and golden slippers.
Fortunately, iconic figures like Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), the Prince (Chris Pine), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) have exactly what the couple needs to break free. However, the Baker and his wife soon discover that the price of achieving their dream is higher than they believed.
Movies based on Disney theme park rides have no business being this good. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a terrific adventure film, thanks in large part to the direction of Gore Verbinski and an Oscar-nominated performance by Johnny Depp. Within the movie, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) wants to get revenge on his former first mate, Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who stole his ship, The Black Pearl.
When Barbossa kidnaps Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Jack sees his best chance for vengeance lies with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), the son of one of Jack’s old friends. Together, Jack and Will assemble their own crew as they take on Barbossa’s crew of cursed pirates who become living skeletons under moonlight.
How many times can you watch Frozen? Only your children know for sure. With the 10th anniversary of its release coming up soon, it has to be said that Frozen has earned its place in Disney history as perhaps the studio’s most popular film since the ‘90s. Idina Menzel stars as Elsa, the estranged Princess of Arendelle who is ostracized from the kingdom because of her incredible ability to bend ice and cold to her will. Kristen Bell also stars as Elsa’s sister, Anna. The sisters haven’t seen each other in years, but they will have to emotionally reconnect if they want to save the kingdom and each other.
Forty -five years ago this week, the original Star Wars hit theaters and changed the movies forever. It was subsequently given the “Episode 4: A New Hope” name, but to the first generation of fans, it all starts here. In a desperate bid to keep Darth Vader (David Prowse with James Earl Jones as Vader’s voice) from retrieving the plans for a super weapon called the Death Star, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hides them with two droids. From there, destiny awaits a restless young man named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), an exiled Jedi called Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), the Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the scoundrel known as Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Even after all of these years, it’s still a rousing space adventure.
Since May is the 45th anniversary of Star Wars, it’s only fitting that we take a look back at how it all began. Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy is a comprehensive examination of the making of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. George Lucas and numerous cast members and crew share their memories and insight into one of the great sci-fi epics of our time. Fair warning, at two and a half hours, it’s quite long. But it’s also split up into five chapters, which may make for an easier way to break up the viewing experience if you choose to do so.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of Disney’s John Carter movie, an unjustly-maligned box office bomb that is far better than the reviews suggest. This was a passion project for Pixar director Andrew Stanton, and he modernized Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi novel, A Princess of Mars. Taylor Kitsch stars as John Carter, a former Confederate captain who finds himself transported to Mars. Although the natives call it Barsoom. John is immediately attracted to the fierce Martian princess, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). And John’s newfound strength and abilities may be the key to saving the planet from ruin.