30. American Tail- The recent death of James Horner had me revisiting American Tail a few weeks ago, and I really do love it. Much like the great early Disney movies it has scares, laughter and a lot of tears. Horner’s music is iconic in my childhood. I like the voice performances and the ending is so satisfying. I even like the sequel. It’s really cool to have the first Jewish animated character that I am aware of and a lot of good educational opportunities for parents and kids with the immigrant story.
29. Nightmare Before Christmas- A groundbreaking stop motion movie with amazing Danny Elfman songs. I love the clever story of the man who swaps out Christmas for Halloween. Jack is a character we really root for because he has such pure intentions. I also love the romance with Sally and their bond throughout the film. It looks seamless and different and is scary in moments without being over-the-top. Great vocal performances and music. The rare movie which is great for Halloween and Christmas.
28. The Wind Rises- the final film from Hayao Miyazaki and perhaps his most grown-up . The story of Jiro who designs the airplane for the Japanese army in WWII. It is his dream to help people fly but then it is used for war, which is an interesting dynamic. He also falls in love with a girl who isn’t well and that is moving. It is layered, moving film and subtle in how it portrays war, romance, life, and dreams. It also looks stunning and will make you cry but for all the right reasons. You almost forget you are watching animation for stretches but then the artistry will take your breath away. It makes me want to seek out my dreams.
27. Alice in Wonderland– the movie that embraces nonsense and I love it for it. It has a non-linear plot with eccentricities that are different and surprising. Basically its Alice meeting a bunch of colorful characters one after another and I like going on that journey with her. The music is so much fun with great voice performances throughout. Only part that doesn’t work for me is when it throws in a narrative with the walrus and oysters which feels completely out of place.
26. Toy Story 3- Takes all the strengths of 1 and 2 and combines them into an extremely satisfying ending to the Andy part of the Toy Story chapter. Andy has grown up and the toys are given to a daycare which is full of peril, humor and real heart. The incinerator scene is shocking, gut-wrenching and extremely tense. My nieces hate it for those reasons but I was engrossed. The ending is perfect reminding us all of when we had to say goodbye to childhood and pass our memories on to others.
25. Lego Movie- One of the most inventive movies I’ve ever seen. It is for me what Wreck-it Ralph should have been. I love all the different worlds and how they capture a child’s randomness in play. I love the journey Emmit goes on from following all the rules to trusting in his own ingenuity. I love the visual appeal and how every scene moves and feels like legos coming together. I love the voice performances and all the jokes. I love the live action scene which makes me tear up every time. It’s a child trying to explain his world to his parents and that is beautiful. I was so skeptical going in but to me it is about perfect.
24. Jungle Book– I hate the ending but love the songs and characters. Baloo is one of my favorites in all of Disney and Shere Khan is a menacing villain. I also like Kaa with his creepy hypnosis. It doesn’t leave any space to be bored but goes from one delightful scene to the next. All the voice performances are top notch and it’s one of my favorites to rewatch and smile. I’m also a sucker for any film about friendship and how yes family is key but friends are pretty darn great too. 🙂
23. Ratatouille– I just reviewed Ratatouille a few weeks ago and it is such a lovely film. It looks gorgeous. I love how it captures Paris as the City of Lights. It makes me want to go there every time I see it. I love Remy and how he feels uncomfortable in his skin. He doesn’t belong in the world he was born into and food is his way of leaving that world. He meets Linguini and finds a purpose. It is funny and Ego is one of my favorite characters ever in animation. His speech at the end is perfection. Ratatouille is also very funny particularly the interactions between Remy and his imaginary mentor Gusteau.
22. Sleeping Beauty– The lyrical look to this animated version of the Sleeping Beauty ballet is so unique and special. I love the faeries and how smart yet funny they are. I love Maleficent and her seemingly petty spat with Stephan leading to the curse of Aurora. She’s such a great villain. Phillip is my favorite Disney prince because he is brave and shows a lot of spunk when dealing with Maleficent. My only flaw of it is Aurora is pretty bland. But look at this image and see how deep the trees are layered on to each other. It’s amazing. The story is equally special.
21. Frozen– The opposite of Aurora is our two princesses in Frozen and I love both of them. Much like Ariel Elsa has this thing that makes her different than the world she is born into. She doesn’t belong and is taught to fear her gifts and hide them. I was really moved by that. Meanwhile Anna is left to wonder what happened to her sister. I related to that as well because I have 3 sisters and sometimes it can feel impossible to get through to them- especially one that is particularly private and introverted. I love the relationship of the sisters as it grows and I love the ending. I think Olaf is in it for just enough comic relief (and one sweet moment). I love the songs and the vocal performances are some of the best ever in Disney. The way the villain was handled definitely surprised me and I thought the take on the traditional Disney romance was fun. I know the haters are out there but make your own list! This is mine.
Here is my youtube review