ByVlad Popovic, writer at
Classic Hollywood, The Oscars and Disney. And everything in between.
Vlad Popovic

(not necessarily the best movies, but rather the best use of animation)



Because of this scene:

Oh, and the landscape shots:

09. THE LION KING (1994)


Sometimes serious, often goofy, The Lion King never actually loses focus of its ambition when it comes to the animation. Never mind the fantastic character designs, which incorporate some of the most impressive human qualities on realistic looking animals, but oh my god some of the shots of Africa:

Oh and there’s also this somewhat popular shot:



Because it set the template for the look of The Renaissance Era (and it was almost ruined by Oliver & Company). Also, it’s the first Disney animated movie to use full CGI for the background of an entire scene, which made it look about a hundred times more ‘modern’ than the movie before it. Also things like this:

07. TARZAN (1999)


Because they actually had two different locations where they animated the movie, one of them being in Paris where they employed french artists who were professionals at drawing very defined muscles on a body, such as Tarzan himself:

But the most impressive thing is the way they incorporated the beautiful backgrounds with the characters to create an almost 3-dimensional rollercoaster feeling of movement:

06. PINOCCHIO (1940)


Because the attention to detail was ridiculous, especially in the backgrounds — which capture that old Italy feeling perfectly:

Because this looks like something you can frame up on your wall:

And because the actual movement of Pinocchio came from someone’s mind — they couldn't really get reference for something that didn't exist!



It was the first Disney animated movie done in widescreen and it looked gorgeous:

(look at those colors, the soft shadows — it makes you feel so homey)

04. BAMBI (1942)


Many would actually cite this as the best animation in a Disney movie, and they wouldn't be far off. The backgrounds in this movie are really unmatched when it comes to making animation look realistic — it set the tone for any and all future animated movies with animals in their natural habitat. They have a forest go through virtually every possible transformation and it always looks perfect (raining, snowing, blooming, on fire, at night, in the morning, etc) Plus, they literally invented the anthropomorphic animals that we see in almost every animated movie now.



When you look at the animation of Belle and the Beast and compare it to almost any character in a Disney movie, they look decades ahead of all of them. The crisp, polished look to them (and other characters) made it a perfect match to put in front of such richly detailed landscapes and backgrounds. There are far too many stills to show off but the castle itself warrants the movie to be this high on the list. Coupled with probably the most iconic Disney scene:

(y’know, the one that starts with…)

02. FANTASIA (1940)


Because it defines art when it comes to animation. Because each and every sequence is either directly influenced or created by some art wizard. Because the iconic Mickey Mouse has the most distinguished and recognizable outfit on in the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment:

Each little story in Fantasia is just as powerful visually as the masterpieces we hear playing over them. Night on Bald Mountain has things like this:

And this:

And Jesus Christ shit so terrifying you’ll wonder how this isn't used to perpetually give people nightmares:

There’s also happy things like the creation of (basically) Tinkerbell, the first ever fully realized and fleshed out creation of the earth, equipped with dinosaurs and ancient birds, as well as the final segment where the entire thing is done in one shot, moving through a forest using nothing but a massive painting.



Because the movie almost bankrupted the company, showing just how much work they put into the animation. It was the most expensive movie to date, and it was filmed in 70 mm (unlike the other two, it utilized that format to its full potential). The result?

It took a huge risk with its animation and created something that when you pause, at any point in the movie, you’ll succeed at finding something you can marvel at for hours. Since it takes place during (roughly) the Medieval times, every single line is done in such a way as to evoke the same artistry that was used in that time period. But they also had to incorporate some of the Disney flair, so that was a daunting task. The colors used are unmatched, especially the final battle at the end. It’s a movie that you don’t need to see, you can just sit back and move it frame-by-frame.

Oh, and it also has the most iconic animated villain ever put on screen.


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