Ah yes, Disney. The name we all grew up with and came to know through classics like Aladdin, Cinderella, Dumbo, Bambi, The Lion King, and other such films that, frankly, broke our hearts and shaped some of our childhoods. These days, it’s easy to find Disney stamped on a great many things we see in entertainment, namely the movies and who “owns” them. Over the years, Disney has come to pick up film franchises along the way, many of which dominate the box offices year after year.
One of the new(er) streaming services, Disney+, contains all that we have ever known about Disney movies and more. Sure, we could list all of the best movies they have to offer, including the entire Star Wars franchise (and any Lucas film production, such as the successful The Mandalorian series), any Pixar movie, and all of the Marvel universe, but that would be too easy. Instead, our list today will bring you the oddballs, treasures, standouts, and surprises that Disney+ has to offer. You can also peruse our list of the best Disney+ series if you’re looking for TV shows instead.
With a story based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and re-vamped to fit the 90s grunge of Seattle, 10 Things I Hate About You is a timeless classic, giving high-school rom-coms a run for their money. In an upper-middle-class Seattle high school, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) is a popular and beautiful girl that many would feel lucky to date (arrogant schmucks and romantic nerds alike), but with her terrified and controlling father, she is not allowed to date unless her blunt and abrasive older sister, Kat (Julia Stiles) decides to date somebody. Starring a wide array of recognizable faces and witty dialogue, at least one of you will fall victim to Heath Ledger’s endlessly charming smile in this perfect Valentine’s Day movie.
Director: Gil Junger
Main Cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Runtime: 97 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.3
In one of the best James Cameron films to date, Avatar has a fantastic narrative and showed Cameron’s beautiful worldbuilding chops. An incredible world called Pandora by humans is only interesting to them for its natural resources, which they’ve brought military assistance to procure. A paraplegic marine (Sam Worthington) learns about this world through the Avatar program, where he can inhabit the body of a local Na’vi and feel free again. Basically a reimagining of Pocahontas, this film takes the story to new heights of visualization and storytelling.
Director: James Cameron
Main Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Runtime: 162 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Originally written and performed for the stage, Hamilton is actually a direct recording of one of the original productions, making it the most unique choice on our list today. Based on true events, we follow the story of Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), one of the founding fathers and a proud man who came from nothing and turned himself into one of the most important men in American history. Chosen for its uniqueness, this film is an iconic take on race, culture, history, and music, as the Caucasian historic figures are all played by POC, and highlighted by rap and hip hop music as opposed to your usual musical music.
Director: Thomas Kail
Main Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr.
Runtime: 200 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.5
Yes, this is seemingly just a Pixar film like many others available on Disney+, but it is so much more than that. When young and aspiring musician, Miguel, dreams of nothing more than being an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto De La Cruz, he must go against his entire family and their generational dislike of music in order to do so by traveling to the land of the dead. Besides the wonderful visuals and endearing characters, Coco goes so much farther by exploring themes of culture, family, language, love of music, and the afterlife. Beautiful and magical, this Pixar film has to be one of the all-time best ever.
Director(s): Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Main Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Runtime: 104 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.4
A witty fairytale about love, adventure, and hope, The Princess Bride is another timeless classic on our list today that nobody will judge you for watching a few dozen times. When a boy is sick in his bed, his grandfather decides to read him the story of The Princess Bride, mostly for the good quality of the incredible tale (not to mention Peter Falk’s legendary narration), but also to reconnect with his growing grandson. Cleverly written and full of excellent cameos, this film is a good choice for almost any occasion. Other than all that, this is a masterful romantic comedy and might even be the best.
Director: Rob Reiner
Main Cast: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright
Runtime: 98 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.0
In an extremely successful live-action to cartoon hybrid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a dark take on what events might transpire when two worlds collide. Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is a private investigator who hates cartoons but is hired to investigate an adultery case between living cartoons Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit. When Roger Rabbit is framed for murdering a cartoon producer, the case gets tricky and downright wacky.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Main Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Runtime: 104 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Included in our list today for its historic footprint, The Avengers is the beginning of the box-office megalodon that snowballed into the highest-grossing film franchise to date. When the movie first came out, it was a movie like no one had seen before. As the culmination of multiple Marvel storylines, including Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Thor, it had fans already drawn all the way in before it even hit theaters. Earth’s mightiest heroes come together to fight an alien force in this epic comic book movie. All Avengers movies can also be streamed on Disney+, making for one epic Sunday of bingeing.
Director: Joss Whedon
Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Runtime: 143 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Obviously based on the Disney classic, Cinderella, Ever After is a darkly charming tale that brings the story into reality in a very intriguing and exceptional way. Danielle (Drew Barrymore) is a smart and odd young girl who loves to read with her father, but when her father doesnt come home one day, she falls slave to her truly evil stepmother and two stepsisters. With references to the Brothers Grimm, King Henry, Francis I, and Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) as one of the main characters, this Cinderella story feels like a very real part of history.
Director: Andy Tennant
Main Cast: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott
Runtime: 121 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Unique and quirky in classic Wes Anderson fashion, Isle of Dogs breaches new grounds of imagination and creativity. When an executive order requires all dogs from Megasaki City to be banished to a trash dump on an island off the coast of Japan, a very young boy named Atari sets off on his own to find his lost dog. Even though it is set in a fictional world, this film says a lot about where we are and where we are going as a society.
Director: Wes Anderson
Main Cast: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton
Runtime: 101 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.9
In one of the darkest Disney movies that almost surely scarred any child, Anastasia tells a tale of royalty and deception through the lens of curses and mystery. When one of the last surviving members of the royal Romanov family, Anastasia (Meg Ryan) is hunted by the evil wizard Rasputin, she must reconnect with her past in order to correct the future. Added for its dark story and a unique setting, this film is a memorable classic in animated cinema, just not recommended for very young children. Cusack’s role as the local scoundrel turned loverboy, though merely a voiceover, qualifies it as one of the 10 best John Cusack movies.
Director(s): Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Main Cast: Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd
Runtime: 94 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.2
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