Top 5: Disney Animated Films

This week’s Top 5 Friday category was chosen by @BSchwarz95, give that page a follow!

In honor of the release of Moana, we’re taking a look back at the best of Disney, specifically the animated films. They have released absolute classics, gorgeous looking films and stories that define many kids’ childhood. Note: I chose to leave off Pixar films as they are a separate studio, and you can read about which I prefer in this post here. Disney has effected me greatly, and here are 5 of these films that I grew up with, and I have loved ever since my first viewing:

5) The Lion KingSome people might think this is strange being so “low” on my list, but there are four Disney animated films that I can think of that I like more than this one. Really, I didn’t grow up with this the same way that I grew up with the others. I watched it a lot, and because of that, I simply just got used to it. Also, the songs don’t do the same for me that the modern Disney musicals do, but that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy this film. The Lion King is one of the best animated films you’ll ever see, and it has a bigger heart than many of the Best Picture winners that exist. In fact, this film has inspired so much, not just in merchandising, but with Broadway plays , and even a live-action adaptation coming out in a few years after the success of The Jungle Book from earlier this year. Since I don’t have the same connection that everybody else has to this film, I’m happy and ready to see a remake whether or not it turns out to be as good as the original. All in all, this film is a beautiful story with fantastic characters, memorable dialogue and just very scenes that I still hold with me to this day. It’s been at least four years since I’ve seen this and definitely need to revisit it soon – who knows? Maybe it’ll be my new Number One!

4) Brother BearThis is the lowest rated film on my list by the general population and movie critics, but it was one of my all-time favorite films for years. As a kid, not many movies could make me cry and I don’t remember the instance in which I first really cried from a movie (I think it was Seven Pounds in 2008 at age 13), but this one always hits me. A lot of that credit is due to the soundtrack by Phil Collins; the songs are so heartfelt, catchy and memorable, and I listened to the CD for the longest time, and even brought it to school for show-and-tell. Even rewatching it a year ago, I still love everything about it. Not only does it look and sound good, but the movie just feels good too. The characters are so well-defined and there’s an obvious character arc that the protagonist goes through. The voice acting by the two lead bears (Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Suarez) was full of life and emotion and they made it so easy to connect to and care about the characters. Also, the moose in the film are hilarious, and my family still quote the “tree” gag to this day. I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia, but this film will never get old for me.

3) Lilo & StitchHere is a film that looks to have at least slightly inspired the aesthetic of this week’s Moana. Set in Hawai’i and featuring beautiful music, this story follows a young girl who wants to prove that she’s not a baby anymore, and tries to do so with a new pet, who turns out to be an alien. This alien is wanted by some galactic government for being a terrorizing disaster, and flees to Earth in order to escape the authorities. Stitch, the lonely alien, and Lilo, the lonely girl, seem to understand each other in ways that nobody else could, and this movie shows us that true friends can come in all shapes and sizes, and against all odds. It’s a very Disney-style story, and it works because of it. Disney has a formula for success, and while this film follows that formula and structure, it manages to feel unique and original for the entire run time. Even the marketing for this movie proved to be different, check out this poster to see a great example of that. If there’s a movie that I do not want to see get remade, it would be this one. There’s no way Disney could make Stitch that cute with blending live action and CGI. But… they’re Disney, so I’d still see and love it.

2) MulanFor me, growing up with a sister, we always had to agree on what movies to watch. Usually, The Princess Bride was the choice, but Mulan was also one that we both absolutely adored. This story has so much to love: beautiful songs, breathtaking action sequences, an incredibly strong female lead, an adorable little dragon, and a story about determination, strength, and courage. Mulan would make a fantastic live-action film, and because of that, it’s getting made into one right now. One element of this movie that people loved is how authentic it felt, and even though it’s a very Americanized version of China, it still felt like China (as far as my ignorant American views are concerned). The feel of the movie was very foreign, and I really hope that the live-action version captures that as well- and with NO white actors… at all. Like, none whatsoever. All Asian actors, with a great Asian lead actress, and Eddie Murphy reprising his role as a CG dragon. THAT is the kind of movie that the live-action version needs to be in order to be faithful to the fans, and the amazing original film. Mulan is a princess film that turns the princess paradigm on it’s head; this is definitely a movie to watch.

1) Beauty and the BeastIf I made a Top 25 Films of All Time list right now, I would 100% make sure that I included this film. Not only is it my favorite Disney animated film of all time, but it’s one of my favorite movies, period. Beauty and the Beast takes a classic love story, and a story of man and nature, and makes it one of the most heartwarming, heartbreaking, endearing and emotional films that you can see. The art is mesmerizing and the songs are better than any Disney film that you’ll find, even Frozen or The Little MermaidWhat this film does is take a love story, and gives us characters that completely turn that blueprint into a completely different and original tale. Basically, this film redefined the Man and Beast story and gave it more heart than anybody could have expected. Also, this film is getting remade into a live action version in March of next year, and it looks to be completely recapturing everything that made this film great in the first place. This film ranks up there with Titanic as one of my favorite love stories of all time, and my favorite Disney film of all time. Please don’t disappoint, Disney!

Anyways, that’s my Top 5, what is yours? Do you think Moana will end up making the list when it comes out this week? If you enjoyed this, comment your thoughts or share this with friends; as always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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