Never has a time been so acceptable than now – when we’re social distancing and continuing not to leave the house- to watch all your favourite Disney movies from childhood.
Or if, as you and the world around us have evolved so your favourite damsel-in-distress movie from the past might not be your film of choice anymore, over the years Disney have a released a string of remakes as well as introducing brand new Disney characters who bring some much-needed update to the traditional themes.
It’s also easy to forget that Disney isn’t just cartoon princesses, the production company is behind many beloved films included in our list below.
In February 2020, Disney Plus launched in the UK bringing an even easier way to watch all the Disney films you want to your heart’s content.
With more than 500 movies available on the platform, here are ELLE UK’s recommendations of the very best Disney films and why:
Arriving on May 28, 2021, Emma Stone takes on the iconic role of Cruella De Vil in a prequel of the beloved 101 Dalmatians movie. In the trailer, released on February 17, Stone delivers an English accent, wigs aplenty and the ultimate demeanour of the villain we hate to love.
This Pixar gem arrived on Disney + shortly after Christmas and soon enough it was all anyone was talking about, regardless of age. The film follows Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) an ambitious jazz artist and teacher, disappointed with his career trajectory.
After encountering a very intense life lesson – and little creature called 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) – his priorities and understanding of himself soon start to shift. We’d go as far to say that watching Soul is actually very good for the soul.
3. The Parent Trap
Double Lindsay Lohan star in this iconic film about two twins, Halle and Annie who are separated as children and live with one of their divorced parents, experiencing very different upbringings – one on a California vineyard and one in a London townhouse, until they see their reflection when they bump into each other at camp.
4. Alice In Wonderland
The Tim Burton treatment of the Lewis Carroll novel gave us Helena Bonham Carter as a terrifying Queen of Hearts, Anne Hathaway as the white Queen, Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Alan Rickman as the blue caterpillar and Stephen Fry as the Cheshire cat. What more could you ask for?
An unlikely Disney princess is found in Merida – the curly red-haired Scottish warrior – who in one film undoes the antiquated, fairytale belief that marriage is the end, finite goal.
Plus, the 2012 film features a super strong cast of legendary British talent, including Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane and Billy Connolly.
6. Mary Poppins
A 1964 classic starring Julie Andrews as the Nanny we all wished we had. A timeless classic with unforgettable songs (‘Feed The Birds’, ‘A Spoonful Of Sugar’), a family feel and historical references that we love to see, like the Suffragette mother of the Banks households.
As well as the songs that never leave your head, Frozen brings an all-star cast (Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel) as well as a powerful story of sisterhood that trumps any romantic relationship.
8. The Princess and the Frog
Disney’s first black princess was introduced as Princess Tiana in this 2009 film based on the classic novel. Paying homage to New Orleans’ rich cultural history, the film has a great musical feel and is a much-needed update of a classic princess fairytale.
9. Beauty and the Beast
This 2017 live-action remake of the classic tale sees Emma Watson take on the famed character. While the Stockholm Syndrome debate was reignited (watch the film yourself to see what you think) the story feels more up to date and Belle’s independence shines through. As ever, the songs are brilliant.
While the live-action remake’s release was put on hold at the last minute, the original 1998 cartoon will be available on Disney Plus telling the story of the young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a boy to go to war instead of her elderly father.
As well as the incredible ‘How Far I’ll Go’ song, which anyone who has a child in their life under the age of 10, will have heard, Moana is a revolution. A 16-year-old daughter of a chief in a Polynesian village, Moana is a fearless adventurer and a natural leader. It also has no romantic storyline, whatsoever.
12. The Princess Diairies
The film which introduced Anne Hathaway as Princess Mia, a San Francisco high school student who discovers she is actually related to royalty in the fictional country of Genovia, plus by related we mean that she is a princess.
Mia soon has to learn the ropes of what being a princess entails from her grandmother, the Queen (Julie Andrews) leading to much hilarity. ‘Get off the grass!’
An emotional film that viewers of all ages hold close to their hearts.
14. The Lion King
It really depends what kind of mood you’re in as to whether you want to watch the 1992 cartoon The Lion King or the Beyoncé and Donald Glover-starring 2019 CGI update. We won’t judge either way and truly believe that the story is one of Disney’s best either in cartoon or CGI format.
15. 101 Dalmatians
What to do when you’re feeling like you need a hug? Watch a film about 101 adorable spotted puppies of course. Also, even though Cruella de Vil still scares us, Glen Close is phenomenal in the role.
It’s easy to forget about Hercules, which was released in 1997, but now is the time to revisit the classic.
The soundtrack is unrivalled with songs like ‘Go The Distance’ and Jocelyn Brown’s ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘The Gospel Truth’. The muses can improve your mood at any time and and Meg is there for ponytail/trickery inspiration.
Honestly, this film is funny. The joy of watching Disney films as an adult means you are quicker to understand some of the jokes and references a lot more.
18. The Fox and the Hound
On days when you’re feeling nostalgic, this 1981 cartoon of the classic tale is one to revisit.
19. The Emperor’s New Groove
A loveable classic about a cocky emperor who gets turned into a llama by accident (instead of killed) by his evil, plotting associate. He soon makes friends with llama herder, Pacha (voiced by the instantly recognisable John Goodman) and they make a plan to win back his throne.
Inspired by the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ celebrations, the storyline is all about the importance of family while providing great music, colourful scenes and paying tribute to Mexican culture.
21. Toy Story
From ‘You’ve Got A Friend To Me’, to the friendship between Andy and Woody (the scene from Toy Story 3 gets us every time) to being transported back to the childhood imagination of the world of toys, there’s hundreds of reasons why we love this franchise.
22. Queen of Katwe
Hollywood megastars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo star in this 2016 film based on the true story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, who learned to the play the game in the Katwe slum she lived in the city of Kampala and went on to represent her country in international chess championships.
23. Finding Nemo
One of the best animated films in recent times is the story of the little clownfish who gets lost in the ocean. A warm and adorable tale of the strength of family and friendship while also providing many a funny moment thanks to Dory, the sharks and turtles.
One of the most heartbreaking Disney movies in history but also a classic that can be watched time and time again.
25. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
A classic that deserves a spot on this list for the music alone. Not going to lie, the wicked witch still scares us.
26. Freaky Friday
Another Lindsay Lohan movie ranks among the best of Disney’s offering in our opinion. A remake of the 1970s movie stars Jamie-Lee Curtis as a very professional, organised and sort of uptight mother and Lohan as her rocker, free and kind of disobedient teenage daughter who argue a lot. Soon they are switched into each other’s bodies and, well, you know the rest of the story…
27. The Tigger Movie
The happiest and bounciest of all the Disney characters is Tigger and his own movie from 2000 is bound to make you smile if you need a pick-me-up.
The tale of Sleeping Beauty is given a feminist retelling in Maleficent (and also the sequel which was released last year), which asks you to rethink the villain of the story and question the need for a Prince Charming.
29. Monster’s Inc
Two points. 1. Boo is the most adorable animated character ever. 2. If only there was this film around when we were scared of monsters under the bed as children.
30. Fantasia 2000
Like being at Disney Land, watching the parades. So if that was your plan and Coronavirus prevented you for doing so, don a Minnie Mouse hat and watch Fantasia 2000 instead.