The following 10 movies represent a balance of both animated and live-action films from Disney that have endured over the years and remained popular.
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Any list of the best Disney films would be incomplete without the animated classic that started it all. The first feature-length animated film in history, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs still stands among the highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation, and it serves as the foundation upon which all future Disney films would be built.
2. Cinderella (1950)
The first few fully animated Disney movies comprise a large number of the studio’s most popular films (Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, etc.). However, we’re giving Cinderella the edge, seeing as it remains perhaps the definitive version of a fairy tale. Disney itself even went back to successfully translate this film to live-action in 2015.
3. Old Yeller (1957)
The first live-action film on our list, Old Yeller is, of course, memorable for its famous tearjerker ending, but it also makes our list for the way in which it offers a dramatic tale that families can enjoy in equal measure. For many, the film is a cultural landmark.
4. Mary Poppins (1964)
Disney musicals don’t get much more iconic than this. Julie Andrews won an Academy Award for her indelible turn as the magical nanny with a penchant for breaking into song. Both the film’s brilliant music and its visual effects continue to delight generations of viewers.
5. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Rick Moranis plays an inventor who accidentally shrinks his children to microscopic size in this blockbuster hit that spawned an entire franchise of films. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids became the highest-grossing live-action Disney film ever at the time and is one of the landmark films for an entire generation.
6. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
This classic was the first animated film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. It cemented the arrival of the Disney Renaissance that kicked off with the release of The Little Mermaid two years earlier.
7. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
The Mighty Ducks is more than just another kid-friendly sports film. The Mighty Ducks still remains cherished by its target audience and led to sequels, an animated television series, and the creation of a real-life hockey team named after the film (Anaheim Ducks).
8. The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King represents the apex of the Disney Renaissance as far as both cultural relevance and box office success. Disney is still keeping the franchise alive with the current animated series The Lion Guard and with good reason.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Though the film’s sequels haven’t performed as well, the original still has a sense of swashbuckling adventure and excitement that few films have achieved. Moreover, the fact that Disney was able to build such an iconic character and money-making franchise off of a theme park attraction makes the Pirates of the Caribbean phenomenon even more impressive.
10. Zootopia (2016)
Frozen may be the biggest hit Disney has had in recent years, but we consider this film to be the creative pinnacle of the second Disney Renaissance. With multifaceted characters, rich subtext, and a compelling mystery, Zootopia is a film that we’re betting will only become more and more popular as years go by.