I have reached the end of my journey. It took an extra year, but I managed to view all 54 films in the Disney Canon, soak in hours and hours of bonus features, snap tons of screenshots, listen to soundtracks, and write a short (or sometimes quite lengthy) post with my thoughts on each film. It has been at times daunting and at times stressful, but always worthwhile and fun.
In the end, I came away with a new appreciation for the genius of Walt Disney, the tireless effort of the animators and other filmmakers, and the dedication of everyone involved in making the Disney Canon one of the surest bets you can find in family entertainment.
As a bit of a farewell to this project, and since we are at the close of another year, I thought it would be fun to give you my own top 54 list and count down the entire Disney Canon, from my least favorite to my #1 favorite Disney film. It was quite difficult to do so, because if you read my blog, you saw that I have something to like about almost all of the films. To say that one is unequivocally better than the next is near impossible. But somehow I managed, and I am satisfied with my placement of each film (for now, anyway).
To help break things up, I created five categories to sort the films. This made things simpler by allowing me to compare 10-15 films rather than 54. Also, it helped clarify my position on relative likability of each film.
I realize that many of you will no doubt question my judgement on some choices I made. I understand completely. One thing I learned from the many comments I received (which I really enjoyed reading, by the way) is that each person finds magic in different Disney films, and what may be one person’s #30 may be another’s #1. So feel free to disagree with me and let me know where you’d rank them! I’d love to hear your opinions.
So without further ado, here is John’s Disney Movie Countdown!
Group 1: Shame on You, Disney! Legitimately Bad Films
I am only willing to put three movies in this group. If you think about it, that is a stunning track record for Disney. They have completed 54 films so far, and only three are largely considered gross failures by me and the general public. Even so, this category was pretty difficult, because all three are pretty darn awful.
54. Dinosaur (2000)
You knew this was coming. If you read my post, you knew I hated this film. It was generic, tired, uninspired, etc., etc.
53. Chicken Little (2005)
Chicken Little stinks. Save for a few okay-ish gags, there’s not much to like about this film.
52. Home on the Range (2004)
The only thing that gives Home on the Range a leg up on the other two in this group is that fact that I’m partial to 2D animation. That’s about it. Let’s add another picture of imminent destruction.
That concludes the worst of the worst. Let’s move along!
Group 2: It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just that SOMEBODY’s gotta fill up the bottom of this list!
This category contains films with things I rather enjoyed about them, but that also contained some glaring flaws. Other films in this group may not be so obviously hit-n-miss, but like I said in my category title, I had to put every film somewhere on the list. So Aristocats, just because you are #44, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are bad. It’s just that other films are better.
51. Hercules (1997)
Hercules is bordering on legitimately bad for me. Thank goodness for James Woods and Susan Egan.
50. Brother Bear (2003)
49. Oliver & Company (1988)
48. Saludos Amigos (1942)
It kind of pains me to see Saludos Amigos so low on this list. But alas, nostalgia and memories of my time in South America only gets a film so far. I had fun watching Saludos Amigos, but I had more fun with many others.
47. Pocahontas (1995)
Some people hate Pocahontas. I don’t. I love the music and other things. But there are definitely many other Disney movies I’d recommend above this one.
46. Melody Time (1948)
Melody Time was by far the most hit-and-miss of the package films of the 1940’s. Sure, there were a couple of gems in the package. But there was a stinker or two, as well.
45. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
I warned of this happening in my blog post for The Princess and the Frog. “I’m gonna take ya down, gonna take ya down, I’m gonna take ya all the way down.” Ok, so I didn’t take it all the way down, but #45 is pretty far to fall.
44. The Aristocats (1970)
In Disney lore, Dogs>Cats, and Mice>Cats. No hard feelings. It’s just the way it is.
43. Make Mine Music (1946)
42. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
If it weren’t for the dadgum bird vs. the worm scenes, I would have included The Fox and the Hound in my next category of films. I like many things about this film, but those birds just really get to me.
And speaking of the next category, let’s move on to it now.
Group 3: Solidly Entertaining Disney. If I were handing out stars, I’d probably give these films at least 3 or 3 1/2 stars
Once again, I need to make mention of the strength of the Disney Canon overall. Here we are at #41 on my list, and already we are in the “3-star” range of films.
41. Fantasia 2000 (2000)
I like it. The music is great. The animation is great. But I will watch the original Fantasia – multiple times – before I would get the urge to revisit this one.
40. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Shocker, I know. I actually quite enjoyed The Black Cauldron. My theory is that The Black Cauldron was ahead of its time and would fit right in to today’s culture and people’s taste in films – with a tweak or two.
39. The three Caballeros (1944)
Unlike with Saludos Amigos, nostalgia and memories of the past was enough to bump The Three Caballeros into the “Solidly Entertaining” group. I enjoy this movie – abstract scene, quirks and all.
38. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
Ok, I just really like this picture of Donald.
37. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
As an animation fan, the technological leap made from 1989 to 1990 with Disney’s CAPS technology makes this film an important one and worth revisiting. It’s also a fun movie, overall.
36. Bolt (2008)
35. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
34. Treasure Planet (2002)
Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire are so close together on this ranking, I’d almost just make them be a tie. But since I’ve decided not to do that, I give the superior animation of Treasure Planet the win.
33. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
By now, we can really start to see the overall strength of the Disney Canon films. I really like The Emperor’s New Groove. It is unique and it is hilarious. Yet somehow it can’t work its way higher than #33 on my list. That’s quite impressive for Disney.
32. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
31. Big Hero 6 (2014)
This concludes the “Solidly Entertaining” Group of Disney films, and also concludes Part 1 of my countdown. You’ll notice that just about every era of Disney animation was represented so far in the countdown, with one or two exceptions. No doubt you know what eras I am talking about. We’ll save those eras, those films, and more, for John’s Disney Countdown, Part 2. Stay tuned!