Over nearly 80 years, the 56 feature films from Walt Disney Animation Studios have become beloved and instantly recognizable their iconic fairy tales, memorable comic-relief sidekicks, terrifying villains, and some of the greatest songs in cinema history. This week heralds the release of Disney’s latest animated film, Moana, which boasts songs co-written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. So there’s no better time to compile a list of the 25 best songs in animated Disney history — with a couple of important pre-list caveats. First, to avoid overloading the list with songs from only a few films, each movie here could only be represented by a maximum of two songs. Second, this list has films in the official Disney animation canon only, so nothing from Pixar or even The Nightmare Before Christmas. With that in mind, here’s the list!
The Little Mermaid
Chloe Moretz has handily avoided becoming another child actor-turned-cautionary tale, and though she’s wildly talented, her roles in recent years have been — with a few exceptions — mostly underwhelming. That’s not to say that she hasn’t been an interesting performer to watch; just that there’s a discrepancy in quality between Moretz’s skills and some of the films she’s chosen. The actress’ schedule has remained consistently busy since her breakout role in Kick-Ass, but according to Moretz, it may be time to take a step back.
It was honestly surprising that it took Disney so long to add The Little Mermaid to their growing list of live-action remakes, and although it was announced a bit later than the rest of the studio’s projects, it may be a bit closer to happening than we thought. Today brings word that Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda will work on the music for the live-action retelling of Disney’s animated classic, collaborating with original composer Alan Menken.
Disney’s live-action remakes have become just as inevitable as death and taxes — not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, considering how well The Jungle Book turned out (on the other hand, there’s that whole Alice in Wonderland thing…). And like that project, the studio may once again be setting up a competing live-action remake, this time turning their sights to The Little Mermaid.
Many male directors have made the huge leap between impressive indie feature debuts to mega blockbusters, but it’s rare to see a woman director handed the keys to a big budget studio film after making her indie directing debut. As more people in Hollywood have begun speaking out about the lack of women directing major films, it’s great to see that the tide is turning with at least one project: Universal’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid, which may have just found its (female) replacement for Sofia Coppola.
Our dreams were crushed earlier this year when Sofia Coppola exited Working Title’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid, and while we’ll never get to see what dreamy magic Coppola may have worked on her adaptation, it’s still happening without her — but now it has a leading mer-lady with Chloe Moretz diving in for the live-action update on the classic fairy tale, with a screenplay by Richard Curtis.
It sounded so awesome; Sofia Coppola directing a live-action version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. What a great combination of artist and subject; a filmmaker who loves plumbing the depths of privilege and following women as they struggle to free themselves from the prisons society puts them in, and a fairy tale that’s got all of that plus mermaids. It was perfect. But maybe it was too perfect; Deadline now reports that Coppola has dropped out of the project citing “creative differences” with producers at Universal Pictures and Working Title films.
Animated films have long plundered classic fairy tales to build their modern stories (at least four of the Disney Princesses alone are pulled from Brothers Grimm tales), but Hans Christian Andersen’s rise to posthumous family-friendly prominence didn’t come into play until the late eighties, when Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ (which turns twenty-five this week) first swam on to our cinematic shores. The introduction of Ariel also effectively ended a Princess drought – there had not been a new Princess-centric film since 1959, but after Ariel splashed on to the scene, the House of Mouse started churning out a new one with startlingly regularity (four in the nineties alone) – but its real legacy is introducing Andersen to the younger set by way of mainstream animated outings.
With 'Frozen' still a raging phenomenon and 'Big Hero 6' right around the corner, the folks at Disney Animation are probably feeling pretty good about their lives and careers at the moment. So the first news about their next film, 'Moana,' arrives at a time when the world's most famous animation studio is at a fairly incredible high and like their last major blockbuster, this is a female-led adventure. Prepare for the merchandise, parents.
With 'Frozen' still tearing up the box office months after release, the demand for fantastical stories revolving around princesses are at an all-time high ... and Disney isn't the only one looking for a slice of the action. Sofia Coppola of 'Lost in Translation' and 'The Bling Ring' fame is looking to bring Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Little Mermaid' to the big screen for Universal, which is as interesting a combination of talent and subject matter that we've ever seen.