Here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Disney Animated Films (No Pixar because that's a whole 'nother list):
This is here partly because it's my wife's favorite of the princess movies and partly because I just love it. The music is great, Pat Morita as the Emperor is brilliantly cast, and the strength of the central characters is phenomenal. (Here's hoping the live action adaptation doesn't ruin it.)
Easily one of my favorites as a child, Aladdin does a good job of showcasing the wit and humor of Robin Williams while still being a story that teaches viewers about the value of self-worth. Knowing that others' words (though hurtful) do not define you is an important thing to remember in life, and this movie does a fine job of presenting that moral wrapped in a high adventure. (Again, here's hoping the live action film gets it right.)
While this film gets a lot of flack for the lack of agency on Aurora's part and the whole marrying someone you just met that day fairy tale trope, let's be honest: none of us came to this movie for the princess. We wanted to see the fairies duke it out, work their political machinations, and play out an epic battle with their humans pawns. Or was that just me? *ahem* The magical-loving child that I was will still come back to this movie time and again because the fairies are so interesting. There's a reason Maleficent was made one of the primary antagonists of Kingdom Hearts.
Beauty and the Beast
This is my all-time favorite fairy tale and (most days) my all-time favorite Disney film. Transformative love, redemption, and learning to put others first. What's not to love? (I will refrain from expressing my disappointment in the live action film. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but it still doesn't hold a talking candlestick to the animated film.)
The Jungle Book
The last film Walt Disney worked on before he died, I have to forgive the many licenses The Jungle Book took with the source material. It was my favorite Disney film for a long time; I couldn't help love the songs and the characters, the way it moves so smoothly from episode to episode until finally, everyone has reached their appropriate destination. (The quotation from the Gospel of John doesn't hurt things, either.)
The Great Mouse Detective
This film was partially responsible for my childhood obsession with all things Sherlock Holmes. Featuring the debonair but frightening Professor Ratigan, purportedly Vincent Price's favorite film role, this movie was just fun and exciting. Please, Disney, do NOT remake this one. It's just fine as it is.
The reason I chose this category for today, Moana is Disney's latest animated film. Like Mulan before it, it centers on a female character whose strength comes from her character rather than her ability to beat up any male she encounters. Moana is a role model for children, period. Likewise, Maui's shortcomings are not presented as endemic to the male sex; instead, they are his own issues to work through, just as Moana must face her own self-doubt and ignorance in order to become who she was meant to be. Aside from a couple of songs in the middle that don't do as much for me as they could have ("You're Welcome" and "Shiny"), the soundtrack is gorgeous and I could put it on repeat for several weeks.
An oft-forgotten or ignored Disney film, Treasure Planet is easily my second-favorite adaptation of Treasure Island (after the Muppets' take, of course). It's imaginative and does a fine job of adapting the source material to the solarpunk (is that a thing? It should be) setting. Jim is lovable and given room to grow through the course of the story, and the films commitment to Mr. Arrow's death makes the film carry more weight than the Muppets' version (which simply has him row to the island because kids' movie).
The Lion King
The Lion King is the first film I remember seeing in theaters. I can still recall my young self's reactions to some of the lines (though oddly enough, not to Mufasa's death). It holds a special place in my heart, if for no other reason than that Simba and Nala are the Disney couple that best reflect my wife and me. (Not to mention, this is also her favorite Disney film ever.)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Little Mermaid
By the way, if you are an audio book narrator or know someone who is, the audio book for Albion Academy is open for auditions over at acx.com. Click here to see the listing and submit your audition!