The animation field has produced numerous masterpieces over the past two decades. While Disney used to dominate the arena, they have shared the space with Pixar, Sony and DreamWorks.
As FROZEN II approaches, here are the nine best Walt Disney Animation Studios features, listed in order of their release. You even can revisit a handful of these courtesy of our AMC Theatres On Demand service! How many of these have you seen? And which one have you watched the most?
A classic tale, told with cutting-edge animation. Years after its release, though, it’s that terrific soundtrack of original Phil Collins songs that still resonates with TARZAN fans.
Lilo & Stitch
One of those “cult” Disney movies that just keeps adding to its growing fan base with each passing year. By dropping an alien into young Lilo’s lap, Disney taught the important meaning of “family” to a new generation… and introduced an updated version of the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil.
After a tough stretch of disappointing animated features, Walt Disney Animation turned to Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, and he helped produce the tender, warm-hearted yet action-packed BOLT. John Travolta voices a show-business dog who believes he has superpowers, and then puts him on a cross-country mission to reunite with his “kid.” Just a winner.
Rent or buy BOLT through AMC Theatres On Demand.
The Rapunzel story is as old as time. But TANGLED gets extra credit for turning its lead into an innovative warrior, and anything but a damsel in distress. Also, the animation to create Rapunzel’s flowing hair was next level, and the movie never stopped creating fresh and funny ways for Rapunzel to use it on screen.
Rent or buy TANGLED through AMC Theatres On Demand.
Good chemistry can be so important, even between animated characters. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are the ideal pair for an adventure, with Vanellope bringing the energy and Ralph bringing the brawn. Introducing them into the land of video games helped WRECK-IT RALPH stand out, but it was Vanellope’s spin on the traditional “Disney Princess” that made this movie an all-timer.
Rent or buy WRECK-IT RALPH through AMC Theatres On Demand.
Easily one of the biggest hits in the Disney catalog. What helped propel it? Initially, we’d say the music. Can you sing “Let It Go” right now if prompted? But the more you watch FROZEN, the more you are taken by the animation, the mythology, the humor (hello, Olaf), and the deep bond that is formed between sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). Bring on the sequel!
Rent or buy FROZEN through AMC Theatres On Demand.
Big Hero 6
Released during a time when superhero movies were dominating the circuit, BIG HERO 6 stood out by focusing on a brilliant team of young inventors who create their powers out of science and math — a worthy twist on the hero genre, where the superpower is extreme intelligence. And then, there’s Baymax, the adorable, gentle and huggable character born in BIG HERO 6. He was an instant hit, and so was the movie.
Rent or buy BIG HERO 6 through AMC Theatres On Demand.
Every once in a while, the perfect actor lands on the perfect voice. For ZOOTOPIA, it was Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde, a small-time con artist fox. When he keeps crossing paths with an eager cop-bunny (Ginnifer Goodwin), it leads to a hilarious and inventive detective noir set in a world unlike any we’ve ever seen. There’s talk of a ZOOTOPIA sequel, but that’d be some massive shoes to fill.
Rent or buy ZOOTOPIA through AMC Theatres on Demand.
Like we mentioned about TARZAN, music can really elevate an animated movie. MOANA has an incredible soundtrack, thanks to contributions by "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Beyond the songs, the story of a restless adventurer destined to leave her island spoke to many in the audience. The animation was spectacular. And we got to hear The Rock sing. As Maui might say, “You’re welcome!”
Rent or buy MOANA through AMC Theatres On Demand.
Will FROZEN II continue the studio’s hot streak? It’s very likely. Sequels used to be rare from the Disney animation house, but as the studio figures out ways to explore more chapters in popular stories, audiences flock.
See FROZEN II when the anticipated musical opens in theatres everywhere on November 22.