Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Top 10 Disney Animated Feature Films

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Are you excited to see my list? Are you anxious to argue with my favorites? Are you ready to deconstruct what I think makes a good Disney movie? Because each time I see someone else's list, those are the thoughts I have. I get really excited to see how they rank the movies, what makes them choose certain films over others, and why they have certain preferences. I mentioned in my first two posts (#50-31 and #30-11) about how my brother or sister or friends influenced some of my choices, and that will continue in a couple of my choices on this part of the list. And, since movies are a more communal experience than many other forms of media, I think that makes sense. All of that said, let's get going!

10. The Aristocats. The premise is simple: rich old lady wants to leave everything to her cats, so the greedy butler decides to dispose of the cats. And I learned the plot well, since the book was my favorite until I moved on to chapter books and Beverly Cleary swept my world. When the movie went to VHS in 1996, I didn't even know the story was 25 years old... I thought they just finally made the book into a movie, LoL. Through the video I was introduced to the music - and I think I am of the few who prefer "Scales and Arpeggios" to the more popular "Ev'rybody wants to be a Cat," but I think that all of the songs are great.

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo was a scary guy - and Quasimodo wasn't much to look at - but I loved the theme of the movie, and there are some great moments. The Festival of Fools is so colorful, and having one of those trace & color books yielded some awesome artwork by yours truly, hehe. I liked Esmeralda a lot, and the songs are fabulous, right from the beginning. I even played "God Help the Outcasts" as a solo piece for a String Technique class I took in 10th grade. 

8. Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll is a mastermind, and although many criticize Disney's version of his work as an Americanization of the novel, I find it to be truly entertaining. The colors, the music, the movements... it just really comes alive. So many cool characters and neat names (like rockinghorseflies) and the saddest part of this one, to me, is that it turns out to be all just a dream.

7. Oliver & Company. I think one of the most endearing aspects about this film is that it was set in present-day (mid 1980s) Manhattan. Tito the chihuahua was really entertaining, and Oliver the cat really grabs your heart. Plus, I thought Jenny was adorable. The movie just keeps going, and there's never really a dull moment, what with all of the dogs (both Fagin's, Sykes', and Georgette), the bad guys, and the chases. And, although it takes great liberties from Charles Dickens' piece, I think it's fabulous. And, this is yet another Disney film where every single song enchanted me... I just can't get enough of "Good Company," "Why Should I Worry," and "Once Upon a Time in New York City."

6. The Lion King. What kept this out of my Top 5? Scar was just SO mean. "Be Prepared" scared me (and I was 11 when I first saw this), and the darkness of the Elephant Graveyard/Outlands made me turn my head. I don't like those sequences even now, although I will watch as Scar kills Mufasa, a scene which made me cry as a child. Now that we have the negatives pointed out, just about everything else in this movie was great - the colors, the lions, the voice of JTT, and the songs.

5. Sword in the Stone. This is where the pickings reallllly get tricky. In rating these final five, one of the big factors was "re-watchability," regarding how likely I would be to watch it if it came on television at any given point. Things I love about Sword in the Stone include the Madam Mim sequences and the scenes where Merlin turns himself and Arthur into squirrels and fish. And, "Higitus Figitus" and "That's What Makes the World Go Round" are favorites.

4. Robin Hood. "Who's driving this flying umbrella?" is easily my favorite line in this film. The only reason I can't put this one higher is because the songs just don't compare with those in my top 3. Don't get me wrong, "Love" and "Not in Nottingham" are good, but they're not as fantastic as those featured in my top 3. I think the comedy and the characters are what makes this film. Nutsy & Trigger, Lady Cluck, and Skippy are all great secondary characters with hilarious moments. This movie really keeps me on the edge of my seat, regardless of how many times I see it. Oh, and Prince John and Sir Hiss might make some of the WORST villains EVER, haha.

3. Aladdin. Judging by my top 3 selections, you might be able to tell that I was in elementary school during the Disney Renaissance, LoL. There were so many great things about this movie... Jafar was an amusing bad guy, the Genie was a great sidekick, and everyone I knew wanted a pet Tiger after meeting Rajah. "Arabian Nights," "One Step Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" are all very descriptive and melodic. And that's before we even get to the Aladdin-Jasmine storyline, which I loved.

2. The Little Mermaid. Unlike most Disney movies, I remember the first time I saw this one, as my mom brought it home for me to watch on the VCR after I couldn't go to a classmate's birthday party. And, I knew what it was from the sky and the sound of the seagulls, since I had intently eavesdropped on some third graders on my bus, who had been talking about the movie non-stop every afternoon. I loved the setting. I loved the story (though I thought that her voice was an unfair trade). I loved all of Ariel's sisters' names. I loved Scuttle's funny explanations of human items. I loved watching Sebastian escape from the kitchen. And the only song I couldn't sing all day would be "Fathoms Below," although it is still good.

1. Beauty & the Beast. My brother didn't care for this one, but I still watched it a lot anyway. At a sleepover in the third grade, just about every girl in the room recited just about every line alongside the movie. Belle, being an intelligent bookworm, appealed to me. And, although I found the introduction of the Beast to be scary (and the wolf scene for that matter), the magical world of his castle just captivated my entire mind. I loved the characters and how well they personified various household objects - I had a specific liking for Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts in particular. The story was good, and I liked how the townspeople were involved but didn't detract from the overall plot. Gaston was easy to dislike, but didn't anger me enough to matter much. And, the music carries the story even further, allowing for a truly enchanting viewing experience.

Well, that's that. It was a fun diversion to spend a few weeks discussing movies (many of which are near and dear to my heart), but we're back to television full-time next week, and Wednesdays will resume being lists of sorts. The poll on the right ends in just a few days, so vote if you haven't yet! It will help shape the future of this blog!
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