It’s hard to rank the Disney animated films, and not just because there are so many of them. These are films that mean so much to so many people, that are inherently linked to powerful memories of childhood and have informed what we so many adults consider magical. Ranking their respective strengths and weaknesses becomes as much an investigation of why you loved something as it is to their relative worth as a creative endeavor. (Divorcing yourself of those emotions is mightily challenging.) Still, I tried to do just that, and wanted to share stories from the making of the movies as well, so you know just what went into that film’s success (or lack thereof). So, yes, this is a history lesson as much as it’s a critical appraisal. (My primary sources were Disney War by James B. Stewart, Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace, and Walt Disney by Neal Gabler, plus the fantastic documentary films Waking Sleeping Beauty and Walt and El Grupo. I heartily recommend them all.)
But please, let us know in the comments what you think of this list, what Disney films you continue to revisit, and which of these 58 you hadn’t ever even heard of until this list.
And if you feel inspired to check some of these out on Disney+, here’s a list of everything currently available to stream on that streaming service.