It seems as the more time passes, the closer we get to Disney controlling most of the free world. That may seem like an exaggeration, but Disney is inching ever closer to outright harnessing your childhood and every media franchise related to it. I don’t try and hide the fact that I’m incredibly cautious of companies gaining too much power, but with Disney continuing to grow at an almost non-stop rate, it seems like there’s nothing anyone can do at this point that can stop Disney from taking over all of the film industry, nay all of media.
So in celebration of Disney preparing to turn Mickey Mouse into some kind of religious deity, we here at Flixist have decided to collectively throw our hands in the air and do a Best Disney Movie list. At this point, if we didn’t show our devotion to the Mouse, Disney would probably send a platoon of Stormtroopers to our offices and sack each of us personally. So let’s show our love for Disney, the ruler of family-friendly entertainment and one of the most magical companies on Earth, by talking about the greatest movie they ever made, the 1970 classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Now you might say “Hold on Jesse, Disney didn’t make Beyond the Valley of the Dolls!” To that, I say that if you look up Disney’s now-massive catalog, you will see Beyond the Valley of the Dolls firmly placed in the halls of Disneydom alongside their 20th Century Fox acquisitions, which still totally counts. Besides, I dare you to name a Disney movie in five seconds that starts off with a man in a Nazi uniform being chased around the neighborhood by a man dressed up as a cult leader brandishing a sword. Time’s up, couldn’t think of one? I thought so.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a 70’s classic in nearly every conceivable way. It had drugs, sex, alcohol, more sex, suicide, lesbian affairs, and the legendary Z-Man, a band manager who is so dramatic that you thought he would be played by Kenneth Branagh or Malcolm McDowell. Sharply written by Roger Ebert, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a satire of most popular B-movie trends of film at the time. Soap opera drama? You got it! Random interludes to bands playing kinda crappy songs? In spades. What about a bloodbath of a finale that goes so over-the-top you feel like it’s from a slasher movie? Check and check. Also, you can’t forget about the surprise transsexual twist at the end that no one, and I mean no one, saw coming, right up alongside side Sleepaway Camp’s shocking final revelation.
Disney is doing itself a major disservice not bringing this back into the public consciousness now that they own it. It’s a brilliant cinematic classic that deserves to be viewed alongside more classic contemporaries like Frozen and Black Panther. If Disney is going to consume all known media, then they had better start using their damn Disney Vault for something and that something is releasing all of 20th Century Fox’s smut into the world once more! Because we all deserve to see the Carrie Nations perform at Disney Land.
At the center of every Disney movie is a story of one’s unexpected rise to greatness. Aladdin was a street rat who married a princess. Simba overcame his father’s death and went toe-to-toe with his power-hungry uncle. Belle turned a bunch of appliances into humans. In Disney’s greatest film, Out Cold, a young man is faced with a monumental challenge and takes his opponent head-on.
Out Cold is funny and campy. There’s David Koechner as the drunken townie who goes off on this classic motivational rant. Before Zach Galifianakis was passing out in Vegas, he was passing out in Alaska and um…experimenting with a hot tub. The film brought the 80’s infused ski movies into the new millennium with a few added flairs and jokes that forever holds a special place in a snowboarder’s heart. Forget the MCU, forget Star Wars, forget all the animated movies The Mouse has shoved down our throats as kids then again as adults in live-action form. Out Cold is the one great Disney movie. — Nick Hershey
Night at the Museum
Man, this was hard to think of! At first, I wanted to be ironic and tell everyone that The Shape of Water is now a Disney movie. Which, when you stop and think about it makes so much sense, it’s sort of like Fan-Disney-Porn-Fiction when you break it down. It’s like Lilo and Stitch meets The Little Mermaid with a little Pocohantas thrown in. BUT, I am not going down that route. Instead, I am going to take this opportunity to make a pitch.
This is Disney, and what does Disney do better than anyone? Stretch things out in as many movies as possible to make every last buck. So what movie have they recently acquired that they could put everything behind to make millions on top of millions? My answer! Night at the Museum!
So here’s my pitch! NIGHT AT DISNEY WORLD! Ben Stiller takes a job as a security guard at any of the parks of Disney World. And then BOOM you can create some sort of crossover Disney cameo filled blockbuster. Ben Stiller rides a magic carpet with Aladdin to thwart Jafar who is trying to take over the world beginning with Orlando, but he must enlist the help of a toy astronaut named Buzz. But when Jafar enlists the help of a gang of mad Pirates, Stiller must put together a super team of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and seven Dwarfs to get the job done.
Disney! I expect a writing credit and all checks payable to Nathan McVay.
What girl didn’t love her classic princess movies growing up? I know I sure did. So when I first saw Anastasia in theaters and on television countless times growing up, I was hooked. See, at a young age myself and I am sure many other young kids who watched this didn’t know it was actually based on real events. Now Anastasia’s story is not a happy one, sure she gets a love interest but she is the exact opposite of what a “Disney Princess” was portrayed to be up until this film came out.
I find it so funny that for a film that was thought to have been made by Disney even to this day, finally is now owned by it. It’s a film I will always hold near and dear to my heart and even if Anastasia isn’t recognized as one of the legitimate Disney girls, she will always be one to me. If you haven’t seen this film I highly suggest you do, if not for the sheer amazing animation but the storyline. That’s why it’s my pick because it’s just so un-Disney like when it comes to animation. — Tarah Bleier
Listen, buck-os: I’m well aware that by this point, referencing Die Hard is a tired meme. But here’s the thing—don’t we still all agree that it’s an excellent movie to this day? Would anyone deny that it became a template for all action blockbusters to come afterward? Has it not earned its place in the pantheon of popular culture? Yes, I’m tired of people talking about how it is or isn’t a Christmas movie, but I will never tire of talking solely about John motherfucking McClane.
And that isn’t to forget about the late Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, giving one of the most magnetic villainous performances put on screen. Every ingredient of Die Hard is perfectly blended with all action contained in one building, multiple parties and vantage points, and with actions from each party having a major consequence on every other involved person in a chain reaction. It’s elaborate, exciting, and compelling, and pretty much none of the Die Hard imitators (even most of its own sequels) even came close to reaching the Nakatomi Plaza-like heights.
With that, it is nothing short of hilarious that the Die Hard franchise is under the jurisdiction of the Walt Disney Company. Should any sequels come out of long-dormant plans, they’ll technically be distributed by the same damn corporation that puts out Frozen. Yipee-ki-yay, Mickey Mouse. — Chris Compendio
Slumdog Millionaire is a tale of two halves. On the one hand, I have a penchant for overblown Bollywood melodrama so it fits nicely within a catalog of frothy family films I might take a guilty pleasure in. But on the other, a street kid gets his eyes gouged out with a red-hot spoon within its opening minutes. If that’s not one of the least child-friendly films to have been enclosed in the Disney fold, I don’t know what is.
Make no mistake: I liked Slumdog Millionaire. No doubt you’ll be aware that it tells the story of 18-year-old Jamal who appears to cheat his way to a winning position in India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and the rest of the story tells his journey, in which he faces — and overcomes — incredible odds, including brutality, the sexual abuse of his peers and the demands of a deeply unjust, capitalist society. The rom-com storyline between Jamal (Dev Patel) and Lakita (Freida Pinto) is cute, there are no two ways about it, and the inspirational theme is almost certainly what propelled it to Best Picture in 2009. In fact, during the Oscars, it picked up 10 nominations in total and won 8 of them. 11 years after it was first released, it still remains one of Danny Boyle’s best films. (And you can trust him: because he’s spoken to Flixist in the flesh.)
But for all its merit, and despite the fact that the mega-corp has colonized even the indie division of Fox, Fox Searchlight — I’m incredulous that we’re calling Slumdog Millionaire a “Disney” movie. It’s too difficult to categorize. The film wavers between being extremely crowd-pleasing and extremely conscious of the social conditions it’s representing, bordering on Dickensian. Boyle borrows a lot from his Trainspotting style — very clearly an adult film — while also pandering to people like me who just want to enjoy a fun rom-com that makes us feel less bad about all the poverty in the world. You know, like a proper Disney film. —Sian Francis-Cox
Pop quiz, hotshot! You’re mulling over the acquisitions of a tremendous, world-devouring mouse and scratching your head, thinking “Man there are so many movies out there, which of them star Keanu Reeves?” Then after that, you realize “Hey wait a minute, only one of those Keanu movies is Speed!“
Is there a world in which Speed isn’t the greatest motion picture committed to celluloid? Because if there is, I want no part of it. In 1994 Reeves had already given us Ted Theodore Logan and he’d already surfed and walked con dios in Point Break. What can’t this guy do? Nothing, that’s what. I mean, he can do anything, is what… Look, Keanu Reeves, with the help of Sandra Bullock as a sassy Los Angelino, stops an explosive bus barreling through the streets of Los Angeles while thwarting a crazier-than-usual Dennis Hopper’s mad bombing spree. How’s that?
In an era of action films where earnest gimmicks were fully realized and expounded on with good old-fashioned movie stars, Speed was and still is a nonstop romp of forward motion. Literally! Director Jan de Bont would go on to films like Twister and, uh… Speed 2: Cruise Control. Well hell, you can’t bottle lightning twice. And when you finish watching a movie like Speed, wouldn’t you rather just start it up again from the beginning? — Sam van der Meer
There’s only one correct answer when it comes to the new best Disney film: Ridley Scott’s highly influential and eternal classic Alien. The film defined what a sci-fi horror movie could be in an era where such a thing had never been done before. It also doesn’t cheap out like the newer entries do and show aliens every fourteen seconds, thus building up tension for the ultimate reveal and badass ending.
If that somehow isn’t enough, then I’ll just dig into Walt Disney World’s past and point out that an attraction inspired by the franchise used to exist in the Magic Kingdom. Called “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter,” it had all the makings of an Alien adaptation except the name. You went through the same hatching pods, saw a creepy-ass lifeform, and left scared out of your mind. That pretty much explains Alien.
For real, though, Alien is an all-time classic that deserves to be remembered for how important it was to cinema. While only Aliens was ever able to follow-up on it properly, I do believe the series should stand tall amongst the greats in the House of Mouse and become a staple franchise for years to come. Just maybe let someone else direct instead of Ridley Scott. — Peter Glagowski
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The first Kingsman movie has everything a good Disney movie needs. Disney standard dead parent within the first ten minutes? Check. Street rat being pulled into the upper echelon of society? I think I know a movie like that. Falling in love with a princess at first sight? I’ll count it. A villain meets a particularly brutal death? Yup. It looks like it checks all the familiar boxes that Disney loves to use.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is another adaptation of a Mark Millar comic by Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn started out as a producer for Guy Ritchie films before moving onto directing his own like Layer Cake and Kick Ass. The man can direct some fun action set pieces. I remember when this movie came out and people said they were surprised by it and how much fun it was. You know, how fun a movie is that contains exploding heads, lots of gunplay and a sodomy joke to close out the movie. Standard Disney fare.
The Disney brand seems to have embraced this as one of their new franchises with both a prequel and a second sequel in the works. It wouldn’t be Disney if they didn’t know when they had an excuse to print money. The movie is fun, well-paced, and plays like an alternate version of a Bond movie with more swearing and slow-mo. It also has one of the single coolest fight scenes that has come along in some time. You can put this right up there with classics like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. — John Morey
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Disney’s acquisition of the Fox means that Borat is now a Disney character. Very niiiice. The 2006 film focuses on everyone’s favorite foreigner-stereotype-as-viewed-through-a-xenophobic-lens. Like the segments featured on The Ali G Show, Borat’s appeal rests on the character’s ability to reveal the biases of the people he interacts with. In presenting a blatant immigrant stereotype as the real thing, Sacha Baron Cohen uncovers the ignorance and ugliness that’s deeply rooted in Americans. It’s a vulgar slapstick examination of the ignorant grotesques that populate the US, equally hilarious and appalling. Borat also shits in a bag during a genteel Southern dinner.
And I know, I know: making Boart jokes is basic-ness exemplified, but blame your tacky co-worker for saying “my wiiiiiife” too much. The people who use Borat to crap on Kazakhstan confirm the power of the character to reveal American provincialism and racism. The fact that not everyone is in on the joke highlights the darkness that underlies a friendly neighbor’s smile. It’s something we’re reckoning with bluntly and blatantly in our politics given the state of the world today. Gosh, what a dark place this comedy brought me to. What kind of devilish road trip into the heart of American darkness have you brought me on, Borat? Well, let’s at least laugh at the bigots first, I guess, before figuring out how to fix this crazy mess of a country. — Hubert Vigilla
Song of the South
Disney now owns basically every movie that’s ever been made and every movie that is ever going to be made and every movie that is never going to be made and also your cat. Yea, your cat. Just check under his back paw, there’s a little Disney logo. But the one thing they can never un-own despite their desire to hide it forever and ever is Song of the South. They may now be in control of all these amazing films above that they had nothing to do with, but they 100% had everything to do with this incredibly racist movie and I’m really just here to make sure they don’t forget. No matter how much Disney controls the universe they still made Song of the South and for that reason alone (because it holds almost no other value) it is the best Disney film there is.
Disney, like any massive corporation, doesn’t have a spotless record but their attempts to basically wipe Song of the South from the world’s collective memory by never re-releasing, never streaming it, and placing multiple Disney curses on anyone who even hums “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” make it the easiest mark for being the one reminder of their failure to be good people. It is a reminder of that the squeaky clean image Disney projects is a lie; that their rampant take over of all things pop culture is actually really scary; that they are not to be trusted because they can really fuck up. So maybe Song of the South isn’t the “best” Disney movie, but considering where the industry is headed and how the company now controls the world of film and TV it might be one of the most important.