Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best of Disney Animated Features (13-4)

13. Cinderella (1950)
Most of the stereotypes that people associate with Disney are present in this movie and that is not a bad thing.  This is as archetypal and standard as it gets with Disney, this is them in their element.  Cinderella is a popular, basic fairy tale but Disney adds some cinematic fantasy elements as well as making the lead feel more like a real person than a princess.  Fun, catchy songs and the most subtle villains in Disney's catalog.

12. Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Recently rewatched this and I always love this movie.  The humor in Winnie the Pooh is so unique.  Most humor tends to be harsh, but this is just pleasant.  The characters are all classics and the Sherman Brothers gifted this with some of their best work.  The Hundred Acre Wood is a fun world with a distinctive fantasy logic.  Whimsical and charming, it is just like childhood but with a lot of intelligence in the dialogue.

11. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
One of the most iconic romances in all of cinema.  The story of a good girl and a bad guy has been told a lot, but never this well.  This puts the perspective on the good girl character and her development is very natural as she develops along with Tramp.  This is just such a sweet, idealistic romantic movie.  The perspective that the dogs have of the human world is also very clever.  Different than a fantasy movie, but it still represents how great Disney animators are at creating characters.

10. Peter Pan (1953)
One of the screen's best fantasies and best adaptations of Peter Pan.  The flying scenes are perfectly animated and Never Land is very well designed.  The character of Wendy is often overlooked, but her character arc is a great look at growing up.  Of course the real scene stealers are Captain Hook and Smee.

9. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Every time I watch this movie I get something new out of it.  When I first watched it as a kid I was amused by Stitch's antics, then around middle school I related to Lilo, then I understood the Ugly Duckling metaphor and now I see how much is going on with Nani.  This is a movie unlike any other.  It finds pathos in a family, sci-fi comedy centered around surfing and Elvis.  This movie has its own style and heart, great characters and a really good story.  It manages to be both touching and unconventional.

8. Aladdin (1992)
A great fantasy and adventure movie.  All of the characters are great and leave an impact.  The supporting characters are fun and expand the four leads who all have a lot going on.  The Genie is one of the best comic relief characters of all time and the work of Robin Williams and Eric Goldberg on the character still stands out as the perfect combination of voice actor and animator.  The movie and music can be energetic and hilarious, but it is always able to be meaningful and deep.  You laugh at this movie, but you really care too.

7. The Lion King (1994)
One of the most popular movies of all time.  This was an enormous success that Disney has not been able to replicate since.  This movie has a huge scale to it, but it still very personal in its story and humor.  The songs are great and the characters have become iconic.  This has a lot of great replay value and holds a special place in the heart of many people.

6. Bambi (1942)
This was never my favorite growing up, but the last time I watched it I was completely blown away.  Disney has improved on the look of nature many times, but this is their best nature backgrounds.  This is a very tight movie, only 79 minutes, but it accomplishes a lot.  It really is a very in depth coming of age story.  People are quick to point to this movie as sad, but that sad scene is very deserved and perfectly executed.  This movie balances fun and cute with harsher realities about life, without going too far either way.

5. The Little Mermaid (1989)
One of the biggest game changers in animation history.  This was the first Broadway style Disney musical and created the format that dictates Disney films to this day.  This has an three-dimensional princess, memorable songs, a distinctive fantasy world, menacing villain, vital supporting characters and clever writing.  It does so many things that were repeated by lesser movies right.  This movie and the following three Disney musicals were so critically and commercially successful because they aspects that were marketable (the songs, comic relief characters, princess) all work along with the great story.

4. Fantasia (1940)
The amazing thing is that this was not even the most ambition thing Walt Disney had ever attempted.  Definitely the most successful non-narrative film of all time.  Not a success on its initial release, but quality won out on later releases and it is now considered to be a masterpiece.  The film is structured as a concert and each of the shorts feature some of Disney's most creative animation.  The highlight is easily Mickey Mouse's best appearance in Sorcerer's Apprentice followed by Dance of the Hours and Night on Mount Bald.  The shorts are all different, but feel like they belong in the same feature.  It is a shame that Disney has not played with the format and intention of the animated feature this much again.  This is pure experimentation that did something really magnificent.

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