Disney Plus is now live in the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. If you live in those markets, you can stream hundreds of movies from the history of Disney. But which are the best movies on Disney Plus?
While there’s not a lot of great TV shows to stream on Disney Plus at the moment, it’s actually the reverse for films. There are so made great classic and current movies on Disney Plus, it’s a struggle to create a top 10 list. However, that’s just what we have done. Take a look our picks for the top 10 best Disney Plus movies, plus a number of honorable mentions.
Best movies on Disney Plus:
Editor’s Note: We will be updating this list as more Disney Plus movies are added to the service.
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney took a huge risk with this 1937 film. No one but the animation pioneer thought people would sit in a theater and watch a feature-length animated movie. However, Walt proved the doubters wrong. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was, and still is, an incredible artistic achievement. The cel animation artwork is still excellent. It also doesn’t try to be pretty all the time. This film can get really dark at times as the evil Queen tries to take down Snow White. This film set the formula for so many Disney animated films to come, and it still works as well as it did over 80 years ago.
Three years after Snow White, Walt Disney took another huge risk with Fantasia in 1940. The idea was to introduce young people to classical music by creating a series of animated short subjects. Each segment of Fantasia was inspired by music by classic greats like Bach, Beethoven, and Stravinsky. The most famous segment is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It featured Mickey Mouse who has his simple magic spell get way out of control. The final result got mixed reviews when it was first released, but has since been acknowledged as a true movie masterpiece. It features images and animation that had even been attempted before.
We will warn parents there is some pretty dark content in Fantasia. That includes the final segment, Night on Bald Mountain, which depicts devils and evil spirits. Be sure to also check out Fantasia 2000, which features mostly new animated segments inspired by more classical music.
3. The Lion King
In 1994, Disney released what many consider to be its best cel-animated film ever. It tells the story of a lion cub and his growth into the leader of an animal kingdom in Africa. There are so many sequences that stand out in The Lion King. The introduction of Simba to his subjects is terrific. The first meeting of Simba with his pals Timon and Pumbaa is funny. Scar’s act of betrayal gives us chills every time. The songs by Elton John and Tim Rice are also excellent. The Lion King may be as perfect as an animated film as you can get and easily one of the best movies on Disney Plus. Be sure you watch it before the 2019 CGI version of The Lion King debuts on the streaming service in 2020.
4. Toy Story
Like Fantasia, there were many people inside and outside of Disney who didn’t think a feature-length CGI animated film would work. However, the Pixar studio (now part of Disney) knew better. This 1995 film broke ground for CGI in general, and for family films as well. The tale of a group of toys who live in “Andy’s room” now seems like a no-brainer for a family movie. The leader of the group, Woody, gets threatened when a new advanced toy, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, joins Andy’s collection. While the animation is a little crude compared to today’s CGI epics, the story itself is still entertaining. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen lead an excellent voice cast. Also, you can’t beat Randy Newman’s “You Got A Friend in Me” or the rest of the amazing soundtrack.
5. The Incredibles
Many folks think the best superhero film ever made was this Pixar 2004 release, and it’s hard to argue! The Incredibles tells the tale of a family of powered individuals who have to keep their abilities a secret as “Supers” are officially outlawed. However, the family leader, Mr. Incredible, gets an offer from a mysterious benefactor that will let him return to his heroic ways. Of course, things are not what they seem, and soon his entire family is battling a villain who has a long-time grudge against Mr. Incredible.
This movie is ultimately about how people, even superheroes, should not try to hide who they really are inside. The animation is top-notch, the voice cast is terrific, and there are some great action set-pieces that rival those of even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We also can’t forget the hilarious Edna Mode (voiced by director Brad Bird), who tries to help with her fashion abilities in a brilliantly curmudgeonly fashion.
6. The Sound of Music
One year after Julie Andrews made her film debut in Disney’s Mary Poppins, she scored an even bigger hit with this 1965 musical classic. The film (one of Disney’s acquisitions from 20th Century Fox’s library) could be the greatest musical ever made. Andrews’ performance is perfect as Maria, a postulant who wants to be a nun but can’t help singing and wanting more. She gets it when she becomes a governess for the Von Trapp family in Austria. Maria soon becomes a huge influence on the Von Trapp children. She eventually makes their father, played also perfectly by Christopher Plummer, fall for her. While this is based on the real Von Trapp family and their experiences to get out of Nazi-led Austria in the 1930s, this is not really a history lesson. It’s just a joyous movie to listen to and to watch with family and friends.
Oh, and Rolfe is still a jerk.
7. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
George Lucas might have thought he was making a kids movie when he thought up Star Wars. In the end, the release of this film in 1977 transcended all genres and ages. At its core, this is a space fantasy tale of a farmer boy, Luke Skywalker, who dreamed of leaving his home for adventure.
Lucas’ original film has humor, action, and suspense. It also had visual effects that were years ahead of every other sci-fi movie, which made this tale of galactic conflict even more real to an audience.
We will state this version of A New Hope is the 1997 “Special Edition” version with unwanted and distracting new effects and sequences. Despite this, and also the new “Macklunkey” edit of the Han Solo-Greedo shootout, it’s still an all-time classic.
8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
With this 2016 release, we finally get to see some of the untold back story behind the Star Wars universe in a live-action film. This is a grittier version of the space opera franchise, featuring a cast of characters that come together to secure the plans of the Empire’s first Death Star weapon. That includes Jyn Erso, the daughter of the man who designed the spherical space station. You definitely can relate more to this ragtag group than you can to the new characters in The Force Awakens. We also get to see Darth Vader as we have never seen him before as a truly powerful agent of the Emperor. It all concludes in a huge battle in space and on the planet Scarif. Rogue One is the kind of Star Wars movie we want to see more of after The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December.
9. Iron Man
As with many movies on this list, the release of Iron Man in 2008 was considered a risk at the time. The character was a B-grade Marvel Comics superhero, played by an actor, Robert Downey Jr, who had been on the outs in Hollywood. He was also headlining the first film from Marvel Studios, who wanted more control of its characters in movies. The $100 million gamble paid off. Directed by John Favreau, Iron Man was a breath of fresh air in superhero movies. Downey Jr. proved himself to be the perfect choice to play Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy who gets a rude awakening when he sees how the weapons his company makes are used first hand. He creates the Iron Man suit, partially out of necessity, to combat the use of his own weapons.
The final result is a movie that is very faithful to the Marvel source material but takes it in new directions as well. The final post-credit sequence is also significant as it shows the true beginning of the interlinked Marvel Cinematic Universe films. You can also check out Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 on Disney Plus.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
After several years of releasing MCU films with fairly well-known characters, this 2014 movie was thought of as, again, a risk. Almost no one outside of comic book readers had heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Also, this was not really a superhero movie; it was a space fantasy film. The doubters were proven wrong once again with this flick, and that’s largely due to James Gunn. The director and co-writer used the tapestry of the MCU to create this tale of some very mismatched and damaged characters. There’s a human who operates in a universe full of aliens, a green-skinned woman out to destroy her adoptive father, and a fighter looking for revenge against the person who killed his family. There’s also the pairing of a cybernetically-enhanced raccoon with an attitude and an intelligent tree who has a bark of gold.
Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot all team up together to fight off a maniac who wants to kill everyone on the planet Xandar. In between, we’re treated to a colorful canvas of humor, pathos, and action. Guardians of the Galaxy meets, and in some way exceeds, Star Wars as a great space fantasy movie. You can also check out the nearly-as-good sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, on Disney Plus.
Best Disney Plus movies — Honorable mentions
Even making an honorable mentions list for the best movies on Disney Plus was pretty difficult. However, we think you should check out these films on the service as well:
- The Little Mermaid — The 1989 animated musical basically saved Disney’s animation department. The tale of a mermaid who wanted to be human still resonates today.
- Frozen — The 2013 Disney animated feature was a surprise hit. It combined fairy tale storytelling with some modern humor and a twist on typical gender roles in Disney movies.
- Mary Poppins — The 1964 classic live-action adaptation of P.L. Travers’ book is truly “practically perfect in every way.
- The Muppet Movie — The 1979 film remains a funny introduction to the Muppet characters. It also has tons of great celebrity cameos.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — A movie based on a theme park ride? As it turns out, this 2003 pirate film was incredibly entertaining, full of action, spectacle, and humor.
- Finding Nemo — This 2003 Pixar film may start with a tragedy, but it remains one of the most touching films you will ever see.
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back — The 1980 sequel to A New Hope took risks with its storyline and characters. The result was one of the best sequels ever made.
- The Avengers — This 2012 Marvel superhero epic combined several characters who had each had their own feature film. It could have been a mess, but it turned into a movie that was more than the sum of its parts.
- Avengers: Endgame — We can’t ignore the biggest movie box office success of all time. The 2019 release ended the original MCU storyline that began with Iron Man 1 in a truly triumphant manner.
Those are the best movies on Disney Plus right now! We’ll update this list as more films arrive on Disney’s streaming service.
More posts about Disney Plus