Emma Watson’s continuing media blitz in promotion of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast remake found her on the cover of the latest issue of Total Film (h/t E! Online), where she spoke about the moral underpinnings of the movie and her character Belle. In one quote in particular Watson declared that the film’s heroine Belle makes for a better role model than fellow Disney princess Cinderella.
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 good movies are supposed to come out in the second half of the year. January through June, that’s the dumping ground; the crap that was so toxic it had to get buried in the winter, followed by the empty-headed excitement of summer blockbuster season.
Suddenly, Disney’s upcoming live action version of Beauty and the Beast is looking like a very wise move. After all, their new take on Cinderella shook the box office out of the doldrums, launching with numbers that feel more at home with the summer than March. Yes, it even took down that might spring movie season titan Liam Neeson.
The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.
If the prospect of a new live-action version of Cinderella wasn’t enticing enough, the new Disney film is opening with a special added attraction: “Frozen Fever,” a short sequel to Frozen, the most popular movie (and most dastardly earworm) of 2013. And here I thought “Frozen fever” was a mental illness that made kids sing “Let It Go” over and over again until their parents begged for the sweet release of death. My mistake.
Disney’s big kick right now is revisionist versions of classic fairy tales. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ became ‘Maleficent,’ a sympathetic look at the supposedly “evil” witch. Last Christmas’ ‘Into the Woods’ followed numerous fairy tales to find the unhappy endings after their “happily ever after.” Even ‘Frozen’ reconfigured numerous classic fairy tale tropes (the handsome price was secretly [SPOILER ALERT] the bad guy, and the film’s true love story was actually between a pair of sisters). What’s most surprising about Disney’s new live-action ‘Cinderella’ is how unsurprising it looks; it seems totally unlike those films in its old-school vibe.
As briefly mentioned in that post featuring the new ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ photo, Disney’s 2015 release slate is kind of insane. The studio is releasing 12 new films, averaging out to one new movie per month. If things go well at the box office (and they probably will), they might very well indeed be the highest-grossing studio next year, thanks to releases like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ two new Pixar movies, and two new superhero films from Marvel Studios.