Over the course of the past two decades, we have been treated to some truly amazing cinematic experiences, especially when it comes to animated films. Studios like Pixar, Sony, DreamWorks, and Studio Ghibli have continued to push the medium to new levels with incredibly heartfelt stories, and animation that seems to get more enriching and detailed with each passing year. And at the front of the pack is the tried and true Walt Disney Animation Studios, which has cranked out some of its best work during this stretch of time.
As we look toward the upcoming release of WISH, a movie starring Ariana DeBose and Alan Tudyk that will serve as an origin story of Disney’s iconic wishing star, we thought it’d be a good time to take a look at the best movies the studio has put out in the past 20 years. Here are the nine best Walt Disney Animation Studios features from the past two decades, listed in order of their release.
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 2008 animated adventure, BOLT. The movie stars John Travolta as a show-business dog under the impression he has actual superpowers, and follows him as he embarks on a cross-country mission to reunite with his “kid” (Miley Cyrus). Just a winner!
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The Rapunzel story is as old as time. But the 2010 animated musical fantasy adventure, 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. The cast, which consists of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and many other familiar voices, is also top-notch.
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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 when the reference-laden animated adventure was released in 2012. But it was Vanellope’s spin on the traditional “Disney Princess” that made this movie an all-timer.
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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). And the movie has remained just as popular with longtime fans and newcomers alike in the decade since its 2013 release.
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