Every Walt Disney and Pixar Animated Feature Film, Ranked


The past three years I’ve been working to watch every animated feature film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios.  With that project complete as of December, I have now put together a ranking of these movies for your review.

This list includes all 58 animated films from Walt Disney Animation Studios and all 23 animated films from Pixar Animation Studios released theatrically to date.  It does not include:

  • animated shorts
  • live-action films
  • hybrid live-action and animation (ex. Mary Poppins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
  •  animated features made as partnerships with other studios (ex. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Studio Ghibli films)
  • direct-to-video/direct-to-streaming/tv movies (ex. Disneytoon Studios productions)

This list is certain to court controversy, so share your feelings (politely) in the comments.  If your favorite movie appears to be ranked too low for your tastes, keep in mind that I’d recommend any of the top 70 movies as being worth watching, and at least the top 50 movies can be considered classics.  So there’s a lot of quality here, despite the rankings.

Here’s the ranking.  The title of each movie will link to my review.

81. Peter Pan

80. Make Mine Music 

79. A Bug’s Life

78. Chicken Little

77. Fantasia 2000

76. Fun and Fancy Free

75. Home on the Range

74. Meet the Robinsons

73. The Good Dinosaur

72. Atlantis: The Lost Empire

71. Pocahontas

70. Robin Hood

69. The Three Caballeros

68. Cars 2

67. Alice in Wonderland

66. The Emperor’s New Groove

65. Treasure Planet

64. The Black Cauldron

63. Monsters University

62. The Aristocats

61. The Rescuers Down Under

60. Oliver & Company

59. Ralph Breaks the Internet

58. Melody Time

57. Dinosaur

56. Tarzan

55. Cars 3

54. Saludos Amigos

53. Incredibles 2 

52. Cars

51. Lady and the Tramp 

50. Dumbo 

49. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

48. The Great Mouse Detective

47. The Sword in the Stone 

46. Sleeping Beauty

45. Hercules

44. Toy Story 2

43. Cinderella

42. Mulan

41. The Princess and the Frog

40. Toy Story 4

39. Finding Dory

38. Frozen 2 

37. Winnie the Pooh

36. Bolt

35. Brother Bear

34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

33. Pinocchio

32. The Jungle Book

31. Wreck-It Ralph

30. Bambi 

29. Onward 

28. Soul

27. Big Hero 6

26. The Fox and the Hound

25. The Incredibles

24. Coco 

23. Fantasia

22. Tangled 

21. The Rescuers

20. Aladdin

19. Beauty and the Beast

18.WALL-E 

17. Moana

16. Zootopia

15. Ratatouille

14. Frozen

13. Brave

12. Toy Story 3

11. Inside Out

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

9. The Little Mermaid

8. One Hundred and One Dalmatians

7. Lilo & Stitch

6. The Lion King

5. Finding Nemo

4. Monsters, Inc.

3. Up

2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

1. Toy Story

So what are YOUR favorite Disney/Pixar animated features? Let me know in the comments.

Recent Movie Marathon: Soul


Title: Soul
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Director: Pete Docter & Kemp Powers
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios
Summary/Review:

The latest film from Pixar continues the studio’s exploration of the liminal space between life and other planes of existence begun in Coco and Onward. The movie is the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a jazz musician who works as a high school band teacher in New York City to pay the bills until he gets his big break. On the very day that break comes, the opportunity to back jazz star Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) at a gig, he falls to his death. Finding himself as a soul heading up on an escalator to “the great beyond,” he runs away and ends up in “the great before,” where souls are prepared for their life on earth.

Through a series of misadventures, Joe ends up as a mentor for the recalcitrant Soul 22 (Tina Fey). Further misadventures result in Joe and Soul 22 on Earth, although not in the way they expected. This portion of the film has some hilarious hijinks but also the opportunity for Joe and Soul 22 to teach one another about the meaning of life. As you might expect from a Pixar film, the finale is tear-inducing in its honesty and beauty.

The movie has been criticized for its depiction of Black man not actually inhabiting his body for most of the movie (and that a white woman occupies that Black body for a good portion of the film). This criticism should not be overlooked especially considering that this is the first Pixar film ever with a Black lead character, but it also does not mean that one cannot enjoy this movie. Soul is a thoughtful, funny, and inspirational film that is a small story on the surface but it resonates deeply.

Rating: ****

Holiday Movie Marathon: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)


Title: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Release Date: December 9, 1965
Director: Bill Melendez
Production Company: Lee Mendelson Films
Summary/Review:

It’s not the nostalgia talking, this show is really just great. This groundbreaking tv special deals with seasonal depression, crass consumerism, and even made aluminum Christmas trees go out of style. Add to that a banging jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi. And it does all this in a story about kids putting on a Christmas play in limited animation by the Graphic Blandishment team.

Rating: *****

Holiday Movie Marathon: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)


Merry Christmas! Today I will be posting my reviews of my binge-watch of holiday movies. Enjoy!

Title: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Director: Ken Cunningham
Production Company: Atomic Cartoons | Lucasfilm |The LEGO Group
Summary/Review:

This animated, LEGO-fied Disney + special is a funny take on the Star Wars universe, holidays specials, and the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special of 1977. Set after Rise of Skywalker, Poe is eager to celebrate Life Day with the Wookiees on Kashyyyk, while Rey looks for some wisdom to make her better at training Finn to use the force. Her journey leads her to find an Jedi artifact that opens portals through time so she can travel through time and witness Jedi masters training their apprentices. Things go wrong and soon characters from throughout the Star Wars timeline are mingled together, leading to some great gags such as Kylo Ren meeting his hero Darth Vader and the Emperor, and three different versions of Obi-Wan Kenonbi greeting one another with “Hello there!” It’s a good laugh for Star Wars fans who have a sense of humor.


Rating: ***

Book Review: The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt


Author: Nathalia Holt
Title: The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Info: Hachette Book Group, 2019
Other Books Read By the Same Author: Rise of the Rocket Girls
Summary/Review:

Walt Disney’s animation studio was famed for making feature films about the lives of princesses and fairies, but especially in its early decades it was an all-boys club. The hiring practices at Disney were not at all subtle about not wanting to hire women, and the few women who did work at the studio met with great resentment from their male colleagues. Nathalia Holt sets the record straight on five women who left their mark on the Disney’s style and success, even if there names were not always credited: Bianca Majolie, Grace Huntington, Sylvia Holland, Retta Scott, and Mary Blair.

Blair is probably the most well-known of these artists with her concept art significantly influencing the style of Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella, and her work on it’s a small world and the mural at Walt Disney’s World’s Contemporary Resort still persisting. Her personal life is marred by an abusive husband (also a Disney artist) and alcoholism that is the antithesis of her sunny art work. Majolie was the first storyboard artist and developed the stories for Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. She also discovered a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – virtually unknown in the US at the time – and used it is a basis for a segment of Fantasia and thus popularizing the music and the ballet.

Grace Huntington was the second women to work as a story artist, but fascinatingly she was also an experienced aviator who set solo altitude records despite test piloting also being a restricted career for women. Holland, another storyboard artist with a musical background, used her experience to inform “The Pastoral Symphony” segment of Fantasia, the “Little April Shower” sequence of Bambi, and “Two Silhouettes” in Make Mine Music. Scott was the first woman to be promoted from ink and paint (a laborious task where most women at the studio worked) to a full animator, and contributed her art to Bambi, Fantasia, and Dumbo.

The book offers great insight into animation and Hollywood culture in the 30s, 40s, and 50s and the doors that were opened to women during that time and those that remained close. Holt does bring the story fully up-to-date with Jennifer Lee rising to the Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation after the success of Frozen, and the much broader representation of women on-screen and behind the scenes at Disney in the present day. But the book is best and richest in detail on the early decades telling the fascinating stories of these pioneering women and their enduring legacies.

Rating: ***1/2

TV Review: Phineas and Ferb (2007-2020)


Title: Phineas and Ferb
Release Date: August 17, 2007 – June 12, 2015
Created By: Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh
Production Company: Disney Television Animation
Summary/Review:

You may wonder why I watched all four seasons of a children’s tv show. I will counter that it may be one of the best tv shows ever made. Clever humor, breaking the fourth wall, and catchy songs are just some of the features that appeal to both children and adults.

“Formulaic” is a word often used derisively when describing tv shows. Yet, Phineas and Ferb sticks to a formula for each episode and finds brilliance in subverting that formula. In every episode, the titular stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb make the most of their summer vacation by creating something outlandish and fantastic ranging from a city-wide roller coaster to a transporter to the moon. They are helped by their friends, the highly-capable scout Isabella, the nerdy Baljeet, and the bully Buford. Phineas and Ferb’s teenage sister is obsessed with busting the boys for their dangerous activities, doing everything she can to get the attention of their clueless mother.

Meanwhile, Phineas and Ferb’s pet platypus, Perry, is actually a secret agent for an organization called O.W.C.A (Organization Without a Cool Acronym). Each day he disappears to go fight the evil scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, who builds elaborate machines called “Inators” in his attempt to become ruler of the Tri-State Area. Perry thwarts Doofenshmirtz’s plan in a way that inadvertently makes whatever the boys built that day disappear before Candace can get their mother to see it.

It may not seem like much when you read it, but somehow it remains hilarious over 222 episodes of the show. One thing I came to realize is that Candace, and to a lesser extent, Doofenshmirtz, are the protagonists of this show. They may be the “villains” but they are also very relatable.


Rating: *****


Title: Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Release Date: August 5, 2011
Director: Dan Povenmire and Robert F. Hughes
Production Company: Walt Disney Television Animation
Summary/Review:

This movie sees the cast travel to an alternate dimension where Doofenshmirtz has achieved his goal of ruling the Tri-State Area and thus creating a dystopian society. The movie is surprisingly dark as the usually affable Doofenshmirtz is seen as a cruel authoritarian with all that entails.


Rating: ***


Title: Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Bob Bowen
Production Company: Disney Television Animation
Summary/Review:

Released this summer, this movie kickstarted my family’s Phineas and Ferb binge-watch. It’s a clever sci-fi pastiche where Candace is abducted by aliens and her brothers, their friends and Doofenshmirtz must rescue her. It has some clever gags and great sing-a-long tunes.
Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: Cinderella (1950)


Title: Cinderella
Release Date: March 4, 1950
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, & Wilfred Jackson
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
Summary/Review:

Well, I’ve gone and done it!  I’ve watched every single Walt Disney and Pixar animated feature film.  I saved one of the most famous for last. Cinderella essentially made the Walt Disney Company as we know it today (or as we’ve known it for most of the past 70 years because the company has changed considerably in just the past decade) inaugurating a new golden age of animated films, ventures into television, and ultimately theme parks.  Cinderella Castle towers over the Magic Kingdom in Florida to remind you of the film’s importance.

Cinderella may also be one of the best known fairy tales outside of the movies, so I figured I knew the basic plot.  What surprised me in the Disney version is that the movie is told largely from the perspective of two mice, Jaq and Gus.  The first 20 minutes of the movie is almost all about the exploits of the household mice with Cinderella as an incidental background character.  It’s both a daring storytelling choice but ultimately a bit off-putting.  I just kind of wanted the Cinderella’s story to get started already.

While I had no idea the movie so prominently featured mice, I was well aware of the Fairy Godmother and her famous song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”.  So I was surprised that the Fairy Godmother literally appears in just one scene and there’s really no explanation for her existence other than to get Cinderella to the ball.

The movie is well animated and the music is solid and the mice are cute, but something about Cinderella just feels off.  I think Sleeping Beauty, a movie considered less successful than Cinderella, did a much better job with mixing story, character, humor, and drama.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: The Lion King (1994)


Title: The Lion King
Release Date: June 24, 1994
Director: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation
Summary/Review:

I first saw The Lion King in the movie theaters with a group of college friends and we all had an enjoyable time and loved the movie.  Oddly, I didn’t see another Disney animated film in the theaters until Moana 22 years later (although I did see plenty of Pixar films).

The Lion King draws upon Shakespeare’s Hamlet (and possibly a Japanese anime series) for inspiration, but this is the first Disney animated feature that’s not an adaptation of another work and I think it was very freeing for the creators.  They were able to create a universe within the wilderness of Africa to tell a story of love, betrayal, and redemption.  And I think this may also be the first Disney movie with no human characters.

The opening scene with Simba’s presentation is perhaps the most awe-inspiring animation Disney has ever created. And having it all end with a dramatic sting and the movie’s title is a bold choice before beginning the movie proper.  The Lion King strikes the right balance of humor, drama, romance, and adventure.  And the music drawing on African traditions is amazing.  Elton John as composer was an odd choice (and the beginning of a trend of pop artists composing soundtracks for animated movies), but even if his songs do get a little cheezy at times they are definitely memorable.

The Lion King is a great film that I believe will continue to reward viewings for quite some time.

Rating: ****1/2

Movie Review: Aladdin (1992)


Title: Aladdin
Release Date: November 25, 1992
Director: John Musker & Ron Clements
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation
Summary/Review:

I missed Beauty and the Beast when it came out and didn’t see it until years later, but I have good memories of seeing this movie in the theater with my sister.  The big attraction for Aladdin was Robin Williams as Genie.  Even kids who had no idea who Ed Sullivan and Senor Wences were enjoyed Williams many celebrity impersonations and overall manic performance.  It was the first time a big-name movie star voiced a character in a Disney movie and it would not be the last.  I suspect the animators had a lot of fun animating Williams’ bits especially the constant flow of gags in the songs “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.”

Speaking of songs, the movies of the Disney Renaissance were known for their great music, and The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast sold a lot of soundtracks and earned Oscars and Grammies.  But it was Aladdin that made a full assault on the music charts.  If you were not around in 1992-1993, I can’t begin to explain the inescapability of the movie’s love song, “A Whole New World,” in the aural soundscape of the time.  Perhaps only “Let It Go” from Frozen could compete with the utter ubiquity of a Disney movie song.

I hadn’t watched Aladdin in a long time, and mostly only remembered the Genie parts.  I was impressed that overall the movie is very funny and clever.  Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and Jasmine (Linda Larkin) are well-characterized and likable characters and while their romance may be swift it is believable. The themes of being true to oneself and escaping imprisonment (real and metaphorical) are well-done. Even Gilbert Gottfried – who usually annoys me – is pretty funny as the sardonic parrot Iago.

If there’s a downside to Aladdin it is that it relies on some tired stereotypes of Arabic people.  Also, the casting of Aladdin and Jasmine makes them sound like white teenagers from an American suburb rather than from the Middle East. To its credit, the Disney company has gotten better about cultural sensitivity and representative casting in recent years in movies like Moana. But it would’ve been revolutionary if they’d offered more positive representation of Arabic people and culture in 1992, especially so soon after the Persian Gulf War.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: The Little Mermaid (1989)


Title: The Little Mermaid
Release Date: November 17, 1989
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation | Silver Screen Partners IV
Summary/Review:

I don’t know what the experience was for moviegoers who saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the silver screen in 1937, but I can tell you that there was an incredible buzz in 1989 when The Little Mermaid was released.  Disney was back.  Growing up in the 70s and 80s it was hard to see the classic Disney animated features which you might see in a theatrical rerelease, or the Wonderful World of Disney or on the Disney Channel, but generally as a Gen X kid you just kind of knew these movies existed without actually seeing them. By the late 80s, Disney started trickling out VHS releases of classic films, but it was the Millennial kids who’d get to watch them over and over.

As for the movies Disney released during the 70s and 80s, this was a well-documented down period for the animation studio, although The Rescuers was a hit and I have a personal soft spot for The Fox and the Hound. The reputation of Disney movies during this time was that they were “kiddie movies.” Teenagers, and even older grade-school children would turn their noses up at them.  The Little Mermaid was different.  It was a movie audiences of all ages enjoyed.

One thing that set this movie apart is the music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Teenage boys more macho than me at my high school enthusiastically admitted that they loved the songs.  The calypso numbers by Sebastian the crab ( Samuel E. Wright), “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” were the gateway, tying into the World Music trend of the late 80s. All of the songs fit into to the story following the Broadway musical model, and the soundtrack proved very popular.

The animation for the film is also excellent, looking better than any Disney movie had for decades.  The aforementioned musical numbers “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” are particularly spectacular in the use of various marine life and visual gags.  The fluid mermaid movements of Ariel (Jodi Benson) and her hair are also spectacularly brought to life in animation.  While Ariel’s dream of marrying a prince may not be a particularly feminist plot, her characterization is more realistic and relatable than previous Disney portrayals of young women.

I hadn’t watched The Little Mermaid in a long, long time, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh and funny and just downright entertaining it remains after all of these years.

Rating: ****1/2