Memorable, magical, emotional. Many praise Disney animated films as some of the best ever made. The studio has been touching hearts for years, but the 2010s may have been their most groundbreaking decade yet.
The decade launched into action with Pixar’s Toy Story 3. This film became the first animated movie to gross over a billion dollars at the box office. Soon after came hits such as Tangled and Wreck-it-Ralph. It took the flaming success of 2013’s Frozen, however, to establish what is now known as Disney Animation’s “Revival Era.”
As the decade progressed, Disney only became more powerful. Disney Animation, along with Pixar, continued to pump out blockbuster hits, many joining the billion dollar club. Movies such as Incredibles 2, Zootopia, and Finding Dory accomplished such a feat.
Disney ended the decade with a bang. Releasing Toy Story 4 (the supposed conclusion to one of their most popular brands), and Frozen 2 (the long awaited sequel to their 2013 hit). Both joined the billion dollar club.
Seeing as both Disney Animation and Pixar have made massive waves these past ten years, we thought we’d have some fun. Here’s a ranking of all the animated films released by Disney in the 2010s.
DISCLAIMER: The movies shown here are from Walt Disney Animation and Pixar only. Movies from other studios affiliated with Disney (Starz animation, Disneytoon, Tim Burton Productions, etc…) are not included in this list.
20. Cars 3
Even the worst Pixar films can be great. Cars 3 has many wonderful aspects, and it’s certainly far from effortless. The film, however, lacks memorability. And it fails to justify its existence past the prospect of cash. Therefore, it makes the very bottom of this list.
Brave is another weaker link in Pixar’s chain. The movie suffers from an unfortunate tonal imbalance because of its overuse of slapstick comedy. There are few likable characters, the plot is weak and meandering, and the film lacks personality. There are, however, a few atmospherically-resonant scenes and some gorgeous visuals here.
There’s much to appreciate in Brave. That being said, the movie, as a whole, fails to measure up to the rest of the films on this list. Therefore, it comes second to last.
18. Cars 2
Technically, this is a bad film. Despite its myriad of flaws, though, I quite enjoy Cars 2.
The film makes little to no sense as a follow-up to its predecessor. Its plot is contrived and it handles the franchise’s pre-established characters poorly. The movie, however, is very fun to watch (in my opinion). Therefore, it’s third to last (rather than very last) on this list.
17. Ralph Breaks The Internet
To be clear, I really like this film. But when a studio has had such a fantastic decade, competition gets tough.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is as fun and emotional as any other movie on this list. Where it fails, however, is in transcending the boundary of time. When dealing with the internet, you’re dealing with a medium that’s constantly changing. Given that many of this film’s references seemed dated at the time of its release, Ralph 2 might fail to stand the test of time.
16. Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is easily the most charming film on this list. And it’s, without a doubt, one of the cutest movies I’ve ever seen. The film’s heart is huge, its animation is beautiful, and its tone is perfect.
The movie, however, lacks the cinematic power of most of the other films on this list. Therefore it ranks as number 16.
15. The Good Dinosaur
In terms of visuals, The Good Dinosaur might be the most impressive film on this list. And in casual Disney fashion, it’s emotionally-moving. The film isn’t a perfectly-pieced puzzle, however, and lacks the memorability of most other Pixar originals. Hence, it ranks as number 15 on this list.
14. Incredibles 2
To me, Incredibles 2 is an almost perfect film. The movie is nonstop from the moment it starts. Its action is explosive and its comedy is on fire. The story feels like a very natural progression from the events of the first film. And I always appreciate natural progressions in sequels.
The film, however, rehashes multiple character arcs from its predecessor and, once again, isn’t as memorable as some of the other movies on this list. Therefore, I placed it at number 14.
13. Finding Dory
Not to be too controversial, but I like Finding Dory more than its predecessor (nothing against Finding Nemo, of course). This film is stunning to look at, fun to watch, and emotionally-impactful. Not to mention keeping Dory’s parents alive was a nice change-of-pace for a Disney film.
If I had one complaint about this movie it would, most likely, come down to its plot, which is a bit meandering.
12. Monsters University
I hope I’m not alone in believing Monsters University to be an underrated gem.
As a prequel, this film soars. The progression of Mike and Sulley’s relationship seems natural and the events of this movie perfectly set up Monsters Inc.
From its eye-catching colors, to its unique settings and character designs, this film is pure eye candy. And it’s funny, well-paced, and full of heart.
I have very little negative to say about Monsters University and so it makes my number 12 on this list.
11. Big Hero 6
There’s very little to dislike about Big Hero 6. The film isn’t afraid to go dark when it needs to. Hiro is an enticing central character and Baymax is uniquely endearing. The animation is gorgeous and the story is packed with emotion.
That being said, the film suffers from a few bland and/or familiar aspects. Therefore, I’ll leave it at number 11.
10. Frozen 2
I ADORE Frozen 2.
For starters, the film is gorgeous. Its animation is colorful and detailed.
The movie’s soundtrack is irresistible. “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” are immediate Disney classics. “The Next Right Thing” is lyrically beautiful and surprisingly dark for a family film.
Frozen 2 builds on its predecessor in the ways a sequel should and it’s a ton of fun to watch.
All this being said, the film’s execution is quite messy. Every piece is there, but they’re not all properly connected. Therefore, it lands just inside my top 10.
9. Toy Story 3
For many, this film probably ranks much higher. Let me be clear… I LOVE TOY STORY 3.
This movie is a masterpiece. Its pace, animation, and the way it builds on pre-established characters is nothing short of wonderful. Toy Story 3 is one of Pixar’s most emotional movies and more than lives up to the name of its franchise.
8. Toy Story 4
Why did I rank this film higher than Toy Story 3? I’m not sure.
Toy Story 4 is just as magical as its predecessors. It’s the funniest of the franchise and, with little doubt, the prettiest film on this list. The movie is deep in its sincerity and overflowing with heart. Wether it’s better or worse than TS3 is debatable, but I’d personally rank it as my number 8.
7. Wreck-It Ralph
Wreck-it Ralph is one of the best Disney movies ever made (yeah, I said it).
This film is aggressively creative, with wonderful world-building to spare. Its two main characters, and their relationship, are fun to watch. It has multiple well-executed set-ups and payoffs and is, once again, packed to the brim with heart.
Wreck-it Ralph has retained a place in my heart for 8 years now. I have no doubt it’ll continue to do so for many years to come.
This movie is one of a kind. I’m yet to see another film handle such dark social politics in as swift, intelligent, and entertaining of a manner.
Zootopia is as sophisticated as it is fun to watch. The relationship between its two main characters is very well-done and its animation is breathtaking. This movie is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and so ranks as number 6 on my list.
Speaking of masterpieces and breathtaking animation, Coco is an instant classic. Though its plot is a bit meandering and its climax a tad cliché, this movie is nothing short of magical. The film is infused with dazzling colors, and soaked with beautiful culture. Also, this might be the most tear-jerking Pixar film in existence.
Coco shows Disney, animated entertainment, and original storytelling at their finest. This movie will have no problem retaining a fanbase and aging alongside other Pixar favorites.
Moana is yet another dazzling home run for Disney. Every moment of this film is a treat to the eyes.
While its plot could be a bit more centered, the movie is both entertaining and emotional. Moana herself is extremely investing and Auli’i Cravalho’s vocal performance is escpecially memorable. The film flaunts a fantastic soundtrack and a beautifully-entrancing depiction of Polynesian culture. Not to mention the film’s alluring atmosphere, which is coherent throughout.
I love Moana and have zero reservations when it comes to ranking it this high.
Many may disagree, but I think Frozen is a phenomenal film.
The movie’s story, its setting, and its characters are all fresh. Its visuals are dazzling and its soundtrack is stellar.
The movie is hilarious, with its darker moments perfectly balancing its comedy.
Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Idina Menzel give fantastic voice performances, cementing their characters as memorable.
Many claim this film to be “overrated.” I respect their opinions but, personally, adore Frozen. Therefore, I rank it as this list’s number 3.
I recently rewatched this film as I hadn’t seen it in years. Tangled is a lot better than I remembered. The film is funny, its animation holds up (almost 10 years after its release, may I add), and its emotions are on point.
Rapunzel is equally lovable and investing. Eugene Fitzherbert and the relationship between the two characters are as well.
Disney’s trusted princess formula shows itself here, yet the film seems effortlessly fresh.
The movie’s soundtrack, though weaker than other Disney soundtracks, is strong. “At Last I See the Light” is the epitome of the term “movie magic” and its scene is one of the best (if not the best) in Disney history.
If you’re like me, someone who hadn’t seen Tangled in years, I highly suggest rewatching the film. It might surprise you.
1. Inside Out
Inside Out is a million kinds of amazing.
Like with Wreck-it Ralph, this film is bursting with creativity. And like Coco, it’s overwhelmingly emotional.
The movie flaunts believable vocal performances, gorgeous animation, and a wonderfully-atmospheric score.
The script is equal parts funny and sophisticated. The film presents many memorable messages and provides room for the viewer to think deeper than its surface level. Its as fun as it is investing. And its as investing as it is inspiring.
Inside Out shows cinema, Pixar, and original filmmaking at their finest. It’s my favorite movie of all time and, therefore, ranks as my number one on this list.
Here’s to another great decade of Disney films!