The 50 Best Disney Movies of the 21st Century (2000-2017)

By on April 19, 2017






If you grew up with movies, chances are you watched some Disney movies. Even as an adult chances are you’ll be watching Disney movies, because let’s face it: there’s something about a good old fairy tale (and even their live action movies tend to have a fairy tale like quality) with a moral message. It makes you feel good.

That’s why I’ve listed the top fifty (according to IMDb) Disney movies of the 21st century. Just in case you are looking for a movie for the next family night, or simply the next time it’s you, a DVD and a pint of ice cream!

(Oh, and remember that Disney merged with Pixar in 2006, so Pixar movies from that day onwards have been listed as Disney movies too. Lucky for you – Pixar is a good studio!)

1. WALL-E 

In short it’s a wonderful dystopian tale of what it actually means to be human, even if the main character is a robot. Stunning visuals too.

The longer version is that WALL-E is a robot living on an abandoned Earth with a pet cockroach and the last surviving plant. When another robot, EVE, is sent to look for life on Earth, WALL-E falls in love with her and gives her the plant, which makes her go into sleep mode, as she’s found life. When a spaceship comes to pick her up, WALL-E follows and rather than help the crew kill the last living plant from Earth WALL-E and friends step in to save the day.

As the highest IMDb rated Disney movie of the 21st Century you might just want to do yourself a favor and watch it! (And for the record, anything on IMDb rated above 8 is counted as extraordinarily good – it’s extremely hard to get that kind of score!)

IMDb Score: 8,4

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2. Up

A grumpy old man turns out not to be all that grumpy when he meets a lonely young boy… It’s not a new concept, but Disney made it look bright and shiny in this story. So much so it felt almost new. Because the story is new – Carl Fredricksen is a grumpy old man who refuses to move out of his home when the construction workers want to build across his lawn. He accidentally hits someone when trying to remove his mailbox though and is sentenced to a retirement home. Instead of obeying orders he uses balloons to fly himself and his newfound scout friend, Russel, to Paradise Falls where he once promised to build a house with his diseased wife.

IMDb Score: 8,3

3. Toy Story 3

Usually franchises decrease in popularity one movie after the next, but Toy Story managed to do the opposite – the last film in the franchise got the highest ratings.

Toy owner Andy is now 17 and ready to head off to college, whilst the toys are accidentally being donated to a daycare centre. At first all is well with the world and the toys enjoy being played with again, but once they discover that the deceptively welcoming Lotso bear is actually a tyrant they need to come up with a plan and escape to return home to Andy.

IMDb Score: 8,3

4. Inside Out

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This movie appears to have turned people’s minds one way or another – some give it one star, others give it ten stars. Enough people have given it a high enough rating to make it one of the most popular Disney movies of the 21st Century though, which is enough to peak anyone’s curiosity!

The story is about Riley, a Midwestern girl who is uprooted when her dad takes a job in San Francisco. Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – which live in headquarters inside her brain. When she moves cities the emotions end up in turmoil and she struggles to let Joy guide her way, as opposed to letting Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness be her compasses.

IMDb Score: 8,2

5. Zootopia

If you haven’t seen this movie about a bunny, Judy Hopps, who sets off to the big city (Zootopia) to become a police officer (a profession “not meant for bunnies”), you’ve missed out! Seriously. Maybe I’m a bit biased as the movie reminded me of my own life as a country girl leaving home for the big city, but the nine year old twins I help raise loved it too. Possibly because of the dazzling adventure where Judy has to solve a crime with the help of a fox who, just in line with the stereotype willy fox, is a con artist.

In a world where cities are divided into districts with different “kinds” of people, a movie looking at a city divided into neighborhoods with different kinds of animals and with a bunny in the lead trying to break down the “stereotypes” it feels like an extremely relevant movie. And it’s funny. And clever. And it has a soundtrack with Shakira.

IMDb Score: 8,1

6. Monsters Inc.

Your kid thinks there’s a monster in their closet. No matter what you say, once the lights are off, there’s a monster in the closet. Seriously. And how can you refute it? Because as soon as you turn off the lights and close the closet you can’t prove it. Instead let your kids (or your inner kid) watch Monsters Inc. and see that monsters are actually quite real. Feelings and all. And they aren’t that scary. In fact, they’re quite cute…and as it turns out, petrified of children, but all that’s about to change!

If you’ve fought some monsters of your own recently, this is a good movie to make you face your fears too. And look beyond them.

IMDb Score: 8,1

7. Ratatouille 

A rat wants to become a chef in a world where rats eat whatever they can get their paws on and are seen as a curse in the kitchen. An interesting concept. And while the storyline about finding acceptance for who you are (whilst simultaneously coming to turns with it yourself) isn’t exactly new, it’s ever relevant. Big plus points for the great French kitchen environment too.

IMDb Score: 8

8. Pirates of the Caribbean; The Curse of the Black Pearl 

If you love pirates and big adventures on stormy seas, filled with just the right amount of love and laughter too, this is a movie for you.

Will Turner is a nice kind of guy who is forced to become the ally of pirate Jack Sparrow when the love of his life, Elizabeth, is kidnapped by Captain Barbossa. Together they set out on a swashbuckling adventure. I, for one, couldn’t resist the charm of this movie. Oh and it’s got Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in it and with that, I rest my case.

IMDb Score: 8

9. Big Hero 6

Robotics prodigy Hiro lives in the city of San Fransokyo where he makes money doing not so cool stuff. His brother, Tadashi, gets him back on the straight and narrow, only to end up killed in a terrible and evil plot. To save the day Hiro transform his band of friends into high tech heroes and fights the bad guys.

IMDb Score: 7,9

10. Tangled 

Tangled is a modern take on the old story of Rapunzel – a girl whose parents strike a deal with a witch to get a magical/medicinal flower from her garden in return for handing the baby over after she’s born.

In Tangled Rapunzel is kidnapped by the witch and locked away in her tower, so that the witch can harvest the power of the flower that Rapunzel was fed; a power to keep the witch young.

One day a thief climbs into the tower where Rapunzel is kept and she takes him prisoner. In return for releasing him she wants him to take her to the place where the floating lights come from that she has seen every year on her birthday.

It’s Rapunzel’s first journey out into the world and a thief’s chance at redemption. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?!

IMDb Score: 7,8

11. Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph lives inside a video game where his sole purpose is to destroy things Fix-It Felix then rebuilds. Tired of being “the bad guy” he runs away to join the new shooter game in the arcade to become the hero he dreams of being. He wins his medal, but accidentally causes a lot of trouble and sets lose a deadly enemy. Now he only has one choice: to save the day, but does he believe he’s good enough to handle his job? Maybe a dose of love can help him?

IMDb Score: 7,8

12. Remember the Titans

In suburban Virginia in 1971 one white and one black school were closed and the students and staff sent to another school to integrate. The football teams were merged too and the black coach made head coach. This film shows the year that followed from the eyes of the football team, in a seemingly ever relevant tale of overcoming racial prejudice.

IMDb Score: 7,8

13. Beauty and the Beast

A man was cursed to become a beast together with his servants turning into household items, such as a candelabra. The spell can only be lifted by true love, but how can a beast find true love? Then one day the castle where the beast lives captures an old man taking a rose for his daughter, Belle. Belle ventures to find her father and takes his place at the castle, where she meets the beast. Of course, she learns to see what lies beyond the surface of his face…

IMDb Score: 7,8

14. Frozen

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Arendelle there was a young Princess named Elsa who had the power of turning things to ice. As a child, not knowing how to control her powers, she accidentally hurt her younger sister, Anna, when playing. Their parents take them to the trolls to save Anna’s life and also make her forget what happened. Afterwards Elsa hides in her room, scared of her powers. As their parents die at sea there’s no one to help Elsa overcome her fears and the castle is kept locked up. When Elsa becomes of age for her coronation she’s forced to open up the castle, but on the night Anna falls in love with a prince whom Elsa does not approve of and she loses control over her powers once again and freezes Arendelle.

Horrified of what she’s done, Elsa runs off to the mountains and Anna sets off in hot pursuit with the help of a peasant, Kristoff, his Reindeer, Sven, and a talking snowman, Olaf. All of them are about to learn what true love truly means.

IMDb Score: 7,5

15. The Jungle Book 

The latest adaptation of The Jungle Book stays true to the original tale of Mowgli – the man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. When the tiger Share Khan sees him, he decides to get rid of him, as he’s been hurt by humans in the past. To survive Mowgli sets out on a journey where he’s guided by the strict panther Bagheera and the happy-go-lucky bear Baloo. The journey becomes one of self-discovery where Mowgli is faced with various temptations and trials along the way.

IMDb Score: 7,5

16. Finding Dory

A forgetful fish on an unforgettable adventure.

Dory can’t remember much, but what she does remember is that she was separated from her parents and she needs to find her way back. Nemo and Marlin decide to help and together they embark on a journey searching for clues to her past, encountering various challenges on the way.

The movie is a very charming take on what it means to suffer from an ailment, do one’s best to overcome it and learn to accept oneself and be loved for who one is.

IMDb Score: 7,4

17. Monsters University 

Two very different monsters first become friends, then enemies on campus, only to realize that if they are to get what they want from their course (get good at being scary), they need to team up together and fight for it. It’s an old concept for a story, but it’s ever relevant and ever lovable. Besides, who doesn’t like some monsters in their life?! Cute monsters that is!

IMDb Score: 7,3

18. The Emperor’s New Groove 

A vain and self-centered emperor, Kuzco, decides to build a waterpark for himself for his birthday, eliminating a whole village just so as to be able to build it. Unfortunately for Kuzco someone is planning to assassinate him, but the assassination misfires and he’s turned into a llama instead. As a llama he’s looked after by a llama herder who lives in the very village he’s intent on erasing for the sake of his waterpark. The emperor is about to learn a lesson or two about life!

IMDb Score: 7,3

19. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Will and Elizabeth are sentenced to death for being in touch with Jack Sparrow, whilst Jack is being chased by Davy Jones, the pirate. Jack needs a key to a chest to get rid of Davy Jones and agrees to help Will and Elizabeth if they help him. Soon a deathly game with pirates ensues and by the end of the day no one really knows what anyone wants from anyone anymore…

IMDb Score: 7,3

20. Brave

Merida is a young Princess who doesn’t like her mother, Elinor, to try to prim her into being a Queen – she prefers to live life her way. Angry with her mother’s controlling ways she enlists a witch to help her put a spell on her mother. The spell isn’t what Merida thinks it is though and turns her mother into a beast. Merida now has to find a way to break the spell.

A tale about facing the consequences of your actions…with a very fiery young lady in the lead!

IMDb Score: 7,2

21. Lilo & Stich and Treasure Planet

In a place far, far, away a mad scientist is doing an illegal genetic experiment, resulting in Experiment #626 – a fiercely intelligent and strong creature with two flaws: aggression and a sensitivity to water. The scientist is sentenced to jail and Experiment #626 is being shipped off to a prison asteroid too…only he escapes and ends up on Hawaii – surrounded by water. There Lilo, a girl from a dysfunctional family which is about to be ripped apart by a social worker, adopts him as a dog and names him Stitch. With love around him, suddenly Stitch starts developing emotionally too. Will he get caught and sent home and will the family be torn apart, or will love conquer all?

An interesting take for a Disney movie – they rarely contain social workers!

IMDb Score: 7,2

22. Winnie the Pooh

Pooh and friends set out on a new adventure after Christopher Robin leaves a note saying he’ll be “back soon.” Owl is certain he’s been captured by a creature named Backsoon and convinces his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood that they must help rescue him. There’s nothing like rescuing someone who doesn’t need rescue, is there?!

IMDb Score: 7,2

23. Bridge to Terabithia 

If you’re having problems at home and in school, life isn’t easy. For Jesse that’s just what it’s like – until Leslie arrives in town and the two of them set off on an adventure to other, more fantastical, worlds.

IMDb Score: 7,2

24. Secretariat

Based on a true story, this movie depicts Penny who, after her father falls ill, decides to take over his Virginia based horse racing stables. Together with veteran trainer Lucien, Penny manages to foster the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, despite having no real knowledge of horse racing herself.

It’s the kind of true life inspirational tale that Disney has exaggerated just enough to make people turn on their waterworks! Because that’s what Disney does best!

IMDb Score: 7,2

25. Cars

The Famous Lightning McQueen is traveling to California to race, but en route he accidentally damages the road in Radiator Springs. He’s sentenced to repair it himself and is forced to work hard to do so, instead of working hard on being famous. He makes friends with the locals and in the process learns about their values, which help heal his ego. There is, after all, a lot more happiness to be found in friendship than in fame.

IMDb Score: 7,1

26. The Princess and the Frog

This is a modern take on an old tale – that of the Frog Prince. In this version, the hard-working waitress Tiana and arrogant Prince Naveen are turned into frogs and then have to race together through the swamps to break the spell and live their dreams. Of course, they learn many lessons along the way!

IMDb Score: 7,1

27. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been a real blockbuster journey for Disney; whilst each movie did a little bit less well than the last, they are all still well loved.

This time Will and Elizabeth must rescue Jack Sparrow from the land of the dead, bring together pirate lords from all corners of the world and fight a battle to defeat their enemies once and for all.

IMDb Score: 7,1

28. The Muppets 

A man named Tex Richman wants to drill for oil under the Muppet Theatre and three muppet fans set out to gather the Muppets so as to prevent it from happening. Only the muppets are all spread out: “Kermit the Frog now lives in his own mansion depressed in Hollywood, ‘The Great Gonzo’ is a high class plumber at Gonzo’s Royal Flush, Fozzie Bear performs with a tribute band called The Moopets, Miss Piggy is the plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, and Animal is at a celebrity anger management rehab center in Santa Barbara.” (Source: IMDb) Will the three fans succeed in re-uniting the muppets and saving the theatre?

For muppet fans this movie is clearly a must!

IMDb Score: 7,1

29. Maleficient 

Maleficient is a fairy in a forest Kingdom – beautiful and pure hearted. She meets a boy from the outside and they fall in love. However, another Kingdom tries to attack them and the boy betrays her in favor of that Kingdom, in which he finally rises to King. Maleficient turns bitter and angry and curses his first born child, only to find herself falling in love with the child and becoming her protector.

It’s a magical tale filled with beautiful CGI – maybe a bit lacking in humor and that extra touch to the story to make it truly shine, but still a movie well worth watching.

IMDb Score: 7

30. Cinderella

It might not be the most entertaining execution of Cinderella but it sure is beautiful! Whoever was head of the art unit is a genius. It’s a stunning movie and the characters are well developed. Perhaps the Prince is a bit lame though? All the same, a very heartwarming tale that, at the very least, gave me some hope for life and goodness after watching it! We all go through years that feels like we’re battling evil step-sisters, but that’s no excuse to give up on the goodness in ourselves.

IMDb Score: 7

31. Bolt 

A German Shepherd, Bolt, was raised on the set of a TV show where he acts a dog with superpowers. When accidentally shipped out of Hollywood to New York he must find his way home with the help of an alleycat and a hamster…realizing that he doesn’t have the superpowers he always thought he had. Will he learn to rely on his real powers?

IMDb Score: 6,9

33. National Treasure

What happens if you realize the clue to finding the treasure you’re looking for is on the Declaration of Independence and your not so trustworthy companion decides to steal it, so you steal the Declaration of Independence, to protect it from them? Oh and then you kidnap the person who discovers you stealing it, trying to prove to them that you did the right thing, meanwhile your wayward companion and the FBI are hot on your heels…

IMDb Score: 6,9

33. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 

During WWII four siblings are sent away from London to protect them from the bombings. They end up saying in a massive mansion where they accidentally enter a wardrobe that transport them to Narnia – an enchanted realm that has been cursed by the White Witch so there’s eternal winter. The four siblings decide to bring back peace and summer to the land and help the creatures of Narnia to come together to fight the White Witch.

IMDb Score: 6,9

34. The Good Dinosaur 

A scared dinosaur who’s lost his father in a flood gets knocked into the river himself and has to learn to fend for himself. It’s a movie about learning to be brave – couldn’t we all do with being a bit more brave sometimes?!

IMDb Score: 6,8

35. Atlantis: The Lost Empire

If you always loved maps of hidden treasures and lost cities, then Atlantis: The Lost Empire, could be the movie for you! Set in 1914, Milo, the grandson of a famous explorer, dreams of discovering Atlantis and has theories around it that are ridiculed by his colleagues at the museum where he works. However, Milo gets his chance at discovering the lost city…only he has no idea what a treacherous path it is he’s chosen!

IMDb Score: 6,8

36. Brother Bear

Kenai’s brother is killed by a bear and as a result Kenai hates bears and ends up being turned into one so as to see life from a bear’s perspective. He’s visited by his brother’s spirit, which tells him that if he wishes to be turned into a human again, he must travel to the place where the light touches the Earth (the Northern Lights). He teams up with another bear, Koda, who is heading in the same direction. Along the way they make new friends and are hunted by Kenai’s brother, Denahi. This and the journey as a whole teaches Kenai to see life from the point of view of a bear: where humans are the killers, not vice versa.

IMDb Score: 6,8

37. Tron Legacy

28 years after the release of Tron came Tron Legacy – a movie about Sam Flynn whose father, the world’s foremost video game developer, mysteriously disappeared. Flynn decides to investigate a strange signal and is pulled into the digital world where his father has been trapped for the past 20 years – a world his father originally invented but which has now gotten a life of its own. Flynn, of course, has to fight to get his father back.

With the rise of AI, this movie is particularly relevant and holds references to God, existentialism and free will. So if you feel like watching something a bit deeper…

IMDb Score: 6,8

38. Pete’s Dragon

This remake of a Disney classic tells the story of Pete and his dragon, Elliot. Pete’s parents die in a car crash and Pete is looked after by a friendly dragon, who becomes his best friend. Six years later Pete is found by a human who brings him back to her home. Elliott, on the other hand, is spotted by a relative of Pete’s rescuer, who sets out to capture him. Will Pete be able to save Elliott?

IMDb Score: 6,8

39. Tuck Everlasting

Who doesn’t want to be immortal? Winnie, a regular girl, meets the Tucks and falls in love with Jesse Tuck – the seventeen year old boy in the family. The Tucks have a secret though – they’re immortal as they drank from a fountain of youth. Now Winnie needs to choose if she want to become immortal and stay with Jesse, or live a normal life?

Tuck Everlasting explains that living to the full is more important than living forever.

IMDb Score: 6,7

40. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Jack Sparrow once upon a time seduced a woman in a convent. Nothing strange with that, Jack Sparrow being Jack Sparrow. What’s strange is that now someone’s pretending to be him, recruiting a crew in his name for a ship that’s about to sail. He finds his imposter and it turns out it’s the woman – Angelica – whom he once seduced in a convent. She kidnaps Jack as she needs him to help her find the Fountain of Youth to save her father. Of course, there are a few challenges along the way…

(Strange that two Disney movies about the fountain of youth are next to each other in the ratings, don’t you think? Serendipity.)

IMDb Score: 6,7

41. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

A year after the four children first helped the defeat the White Witch, they’re called back to Narnia only to realize the Narnia they knew has been destroyed and is ruled by the evil Miraz. The four kids must now help Prince Caspian to defeat him.

IMDb Score: 6,6

42. National Treasure: Book of Secrets

The adventures of Ben Gates and the missing diary goes on – if you liked the first movie, this is more adventure in the same vein, only a little bit less highly rated by the audience…

IMDb Score: 6,5

43. The Lone Ranger

This is the story of John Reid, the Lone Ranger, fighting the notorious Butch Cavendish (possibly the fictional version of a certain Butch Cassidy?) together with the aide of Comache renegade, Tonto.

Now this film is past 40 on our list so it’s not one of the highest scoring movies Disney’s made, but if you like a good Western… And hey, The Lone Ranger was a story conceived for radio back in 1933 and there are books, TV shows and comic strips about the same guy, so there’s definitively more material out there for you to look into! It’s a beloved character.

IMDb Score: 6,5

44. Tommorowland

Imagine a jaded and disillusioned scientific genius who meets a teen filled with scientific curiosity and optimism…and now imagine they embark on an adventure together…that’s Tommorowland for you! Given the jaded scientist is George Clooney some women obviously won’t care that much about the plot – it’s Clooney they’re watching, not the plot!

IMDb Score: 6,5

45. Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton got his paws on Alice in Wonderland which naturally led to a pretty fantastic artistic delight. How good the storytelling is, is another point entirely, but if you like Johnny Depp and you like Tim Burton, then this rendition of the classic tale is a must-watch!

IMDb Score: 6,5

46. Cars 2

Lightning McQueen is back, this time to drive the Grand Prix, only one of his friends is mistaken for a spy and a pair of bad guys are trying to sabotage the race. Will McQueen and his friends save the day?

IMDb Score: 6,3

47. The Princess Diaries

Imagine an average, pretty geeky teenage girl who feels invisible to the world and who suddenly meets up with her estranged grandmother who informs her she’s the heir of a throne in a small country in Europe. In other words: she’s a princess. Then comes the make-over, the media and the decision whether to claim the throne, or back away.

IMDb Score: 6,2

48. Sky High

A high school like no other – up in the clouds and for teens with superpowers and teens who support them as sidekicks. For Will Stronghold, the son of two heroes, high school proves to be quite the challenge given he hasn’t developed a superpower of his own yet and might end up a sidekick. Of course there are also bullies to deal with and when a villain threatens to destroy all Will holds dear he has to grow up and develop those superpowers fast…

IMDb Score: 6,2

49. Alice Through the Looking Glass

This is the follow-up to Alice in Wonderland and again welcomes you into Time Burton’s weird and wonderful world. This time Alice decides to go back in time to save the fate of the Mad Hatter’s family and along the way she learns some lessons of her own…

IMDb Score: 6,2

50. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

A centuries old sorcerer tries to defeat old evil with the help of a magically chosen clumsy teenager. Can the clumsy teenager really be “the one” to help defeat the evil?

IMDb Score: 6,1

Hint: The New Pirates of the Caribbean movie is coming out shortly. Rumor has it that it might just be a better than the previous ones… 





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