For anyone who has loved Disney animated movies since they were kids, it is pretty difficult to actually rank the best of the bunch. Walt Disney Animation Studios has been putting out beloved films dating back to the ’30s, with most of them receiving high praise from critics and fans.
The folks over at Ranker have made sure to vote on which of these movies are their favorites, though finding the right list is tough since so many include films from Pixar. Thankfully, there’s one specific list that is only focused on Walt Disney Animation Studios, though it should be noted that the rankings are constantly changing.
10 Cinderella (1950)
It’s certainly an iconic film but it might be surprising to see Cinderella among the top 10. Ranker voters might be more modern audiences who would gravitate towards newer releases like Frozen, Zootopia, or Encanto, though none are ahead of Cinderella.
Following the studio’s struggles during the ’40s, it was this film that turned things around. Without it, there might not be the Walt Disney Animation Studios that people know today. Along with being a commercial hit, this was a critical darling that was nominated for several Oscars. The story has been retold so many times over the years but it’s hard to top this iteration.
9 Lilo & Stitch (2002)
After the Renaissance Era, Disney had a few films that were well-received but didn’t end up being box office hits. In a lot of ways, Lilo and Stitch changed their fortune, becoming a strong success that has gone on to spawn a franchise with multiple sequels and a TV series.
Released during the days when traditional animation was still popular, Lilo & Stitch focused the story on familial relationships rather than romance, as Stitch and Lilo were true friends who became chosen family members. This was up for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars but lost to Spirited Away.
8 Moana (2016)
The most recent film to crack Ranker’s top 10 is Moana, which was a historic movie for the studio. It gave Disney their first princess from the Pacific Islands and again, instead of giving her a romantic storyline, made her into a true hero.
The titular Moana steps up and saves her people by going on an adventure with a demigod named Maui. The film was a huge hit for several reasons including the voice work of Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, as well as the musical numbers written by the immensely talented Lin-Manuel Miranda.
7 Lady And The Tramp (1955)
Another somewhat surprising entry is Lady and the Tramp. Although it is well-known and something that most fans have fond memories of, it isn’t often mentioned when discussing the best Disney movies throughout history.
Even the live-action remake in 2019 was on Disney+ and not a theatrical release. Still, the movie does deliver one of the most heartwarming tales of love you could imagine and the fact that dogs are at the center of it makes it all the more adorable.
6 Tangled (2010)
Most modern Disney movies have been original ideas like Raya and the Last Dragon or Wreck-It Ralph but there are two that stand out as being taken from existing stories. There’s Big Hero 6, based on a Marvel Comic, and Tangled, based on the classic fairy tale Rapunzel.
Thanks to gorgeous visuals, great music, a touching love story, and standout voice acting, Tangled managed to be a big hit for Disney. It told a love story while also keeping Rapunzel from being a damsel in distress and making her into her own hero.
5 Mulan (1998)
At the tail end of the Renaissance Era, Disney released a movie that is legendary and a fan-favorite, yet is also somehow underrated. Mulan doesn’t get mentioned with the likes of other Renaissance Era films but it’s just as good, if not better than most.
Again, it seems like Disney makes hits when they make sure their female characters are heroic and not just lovesick women. The titular Mulan literally fights in a war to protect her father, making her a legitimate warrior. Throw in some fantastic music and hilarious side characters and this was a winner.
4 The Little Mermaid (1989)
The aforementioned Renaissance Era is indeed the high point for Walt Disney Animation Studios, with the films being massive hits both critically and commercially. That time period all began with The Little Mermaid, which set the tone going forward.
Although some aspects of The Little Mermaid don’t hold up today, including the idea that Ariel willingly gives up everything for someone she only just met, the film is still endlessly rewatchable. You’ll be singing along to the iconic soundtrack and quoting the great characters for years.
3 Beauty And The Beast (1991)
A true trailblazer, Beauty and the Beast took Disney’s success to the next level. It makes sense that it would be among the top films according to Ranker users because the tale is indeed as old as time and it’s one that will warm hearts for decades to come.
While the love story will always be what brings people in, they keep coming back for the beautiful animation, memorable scenes, and fantastic music. Beauty and the Beast was such a success that it made history as the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
2 Aladdin (1992)
Just one year after Beauty and the Beast, Disney was back at it, putting out another instant classic. Aladdin has gone down as the favorite movie of many children from the ’90s and it is yet another that has been watched over and over.
Even the 2019 live-action remake was met with acclaim, though it couldn’t live up to the original. This is another film with timeless musical numbers and characters, but the real kicker is Robin Williams doing one of the best voice acting performances ever as the Genie.
1 The Lion King (1994)
Disney was on a roll like no other during the ’90s as their 1991 and 1992 movies were followed up with 1994’s The Lion King. Unlike most Disney movies to this point, this was an original concept and it has gone down as their biggest success to date.
Not only did the film eventually gross more than $1 billion but the same can be said for the 2019 remake. On top of that, there’s the fact that it spawned sequels, a Broadway musical, and so much more. For a lot of fans, it is the top movie of the decade, regardless of genre.
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