I’ve written a Top 10 Disney films post on every single blog I’ve ever had, so why break the habit of a lifetime.
- Sleeping Beauty
Playing like an animated tapestry, Sleeping Beauty was conceieved by Walt as being a very different kind of fairy tale and it certainly is that. Weak on narrative, but strong on visuals, it’s a stunning and iconic piece of film-making.
Perhaps the best Disney film ever from a purely narrative perspective, Pinocchio is a masterful blend of the epic, the utterly terrifying (donkeys) and the sweetly simple. It defies belief that a film so confident was only the studio’s second full-length feature.
The death of Bambi’s mother grabs the headlines, but what truly lingers in the memory are the awe-inspiring forest landscapes. Another excellent example of Golden Age Disney’s ability to tell story through visuals as much as narrative and character.
- The Little Mermaid
Glen Keane. Nuff said. Ok, Glen Keane, a wonderful script by Ron Clements and John Musker, and brilliant music from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman… but above all else Glen Keane. A master being masterful.
Possibly a little too soon, but Frozen holds a deeply personal place in my heart, and is pretty much this generation’s Little Mermaid. A brilliant, sincere, irreverent, and deeply important film that will live on for years.
Speaking of weird, Dumbo would make it on this list for Pink Elephants on Parade alone. The fact it’s one of the sweetest, most heartfelt, and most perfectly formed films in cinematic history just aides its cause.
Even now ahead of its time, Fantasia is Disney’s glorious failure that remains a testament to his innovative, boundary-pushing thinking. I also like Fantasia 2000, if only for Donald Duck getting poked up the arse by a rhino’s horn.
- The Black Cauldron
Because it’s really bloody weird, ok!? Dark, nasty, tonally messy, The Black Cauldron is the bastard stepchild of the Disney family, and all the better for it.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Arguably the last great hurrah of the Disney Renaissance, Hunchback epitomises everything the period went well: big emotions, big songs, big animation.
- Lady and the Tramp
50s Disney is the best Disney, and that’s beautifully captured in Lady and the Tramp, one of their most picturesque films. Also: dogs.