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The Best Animated Disney/Pixar Movie From Each Decade, According To IMDb

CBR logo CBR 5/18/2022 Madisyn Espinoza
© Provided by CBR

The Walt Disney Company has taken over the world of media, resulting in numerous movies that have stormed the box office. In 2006, Disney purchased the animation company Pixar, widening its range of films and amplifying its success. Each decade dating back to Disney's first major motion picture has seen the release of numerous projects – some more successful than others.

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Disney movies progressed and expanded, both socially and culturally, since the 1930s, when Walt Disney jumped into feature-length films. Almost all Disney and Pixar films were well-received throughout the last ten decades, but some have higher ratings than the rest on IMDb.

The 1930s Introduced Disney To The World

1937 brought Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to screens around the country, making Walt Disney a household name. Before Snow White, Disney had released a plethora of short films, but nothing of the caliber of a feature film.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has a solid 7.6/10 rating on IMDb, making it the top-rated Disney movie of the 1930s. The plot follows Snow White, a princess who is poisoned by the Evil Queen for her beauty. Although she may not be the strongest or the most popular Disney princess, she was the one who started it all.

Sorcerer Mickey Captured Imaginations In The 1940s

Disney released Fantasia in 1940, kicking off a decade of magic, flying animals, and music. Other Disney films from the 40s include Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi. While many movies released during this decade were excellent and still loved today, Fantasia leads the pack with a 7.7/10 rating on IMDb.

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Fantasia's most iconic sequence stars Sorcerer Mickey as he imbues inanimate objects with lifeforce. This film was the first of its kind, with different short stories showcasing animators' talents and creativity. As a result, Sorcerer Mickey became a Disney icon and even inspired the Disney Parks show Fantasmic.

The 1950s Brought Some Animated Classics

Throughout the 50s, Disney released classics such as Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and Peter Pan. In addition, the films of the era inspired many live-action remakes and attractions at Disney Parks. However, the highest-rated movie of the decade, according to IMDb, is Alice in Wonderland, with a 7.4/10 rating.

Alice in Wonderland follows Alice as she tumbles through Wonderland, a strange world full of odd characters, growing and shrinking serums, and an evil queen wishing to behead her. This beloved tale inspired many live-action remakes and remains a fan favorite.

The 1960s Were The Last To Have Walt's Touch

Unfortunately, Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer in 1966, and therefore the movies released in the 60s were the last to have Walt's influence. Mr. Disney was famously hands-on with the animated films his company released, and the last he worked on was also the most successful of the decade.

The Jungle Book boasts a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb and follows Mowgli, a little boy who is raised by wolves. Eventually, he meets Bagheera, a panther, who attempts to convince Mowgli to return to civilization. The young boy refuses until he encounters Shere Khan, the human-hating tiger. This story of survival, friendship, and love captured viewers' hearts.

Disney Struggled Through The 1970s

After Walt Disney's passing, the company disagreed on where to take the upcoming films. As a result, the 70s produced movies that weren't as well-received by audiences as previous features. While the films were good, they are less highly regarded than their predecessors.

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Robin Hood has the best IMDb rating of the few animated movies released during the era, standing at 7.5/10. The story is about Robin Hood, a fox who steals money from the rich to provide for the poor. It's an endearing, timeless premise, but it lacks the panache of earlier and later Disney features.

The Company Started To Regain Their Footing In The Late 1980s

Disney continued to struggle through the 80s and released a minimal amount of animated films, including The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver and Company. However, the highest-rated movie of the period came at the end of the decade with The Little Mermaid.

The story that kicked off the Disney Renaissance stands strong with a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb. Released in 1989, the film tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid who falls in love with a human (and being a human). She trades her voice to the sea witch Ursula for legs so that she can become a full-time land-dweller. The Little Mermaid was Disney's first massive success since before Walt's death, putting them back on track.

The 1990s Were The Disney Renaissance

The 90s, arguably the best decade for Disney animated movies, had wildly successful films like Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Aladdin, and Pocahontas. This period launched the company even further into success, and popular imagination, than before Walt's death. The highest-rated movie is The Lion King, with an 8.5/10 on IMDb. Released in 1994, the film follows Simba as he grows, learns, and becomes the rightful king after the death of his beloved father, Mufasa. It was an instant classic, telling a heartwarming story of love, loss, and redemption, paired with one of the best soundtracks.

The 90s also saw the emergence of Pixar as they competed with Disney at the box office. The most successful Pixar movie of this time is Toy Story, holding an impressive rating of 8.3/10 on IMDb. Toy Story follows young kid Andy's toys Woody and Buzz, who come to life when he isn't around.

The 2000s Merged The Two Animation Companies

Disney purchased the Pixar company in the 2000s, bringing the two animation giants together. Overall, the Pixar side was more successful than the Disney side during the same period, but films such as The Princess and the Frog and Lilo & Stitch have a firm place in fans' hearts. However, the highest-rated Disney movie of the decade was The Emperor's New Groove, with a 7.4/10 rating. The film tells the tale of the selfish and obnoxious young prince Kuzco who learns the important things in life – leading him to become a more well-rounded and likable person.

Pixar was wildly more successful, with massive hits such as Up, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo, all of which dominated the box office. The highest-rated Pixar movie was Wall-E, with an 8.4/10 rating on IMDb. The film tells the story of a cute, shy robot, Wall-E, as he navigates his feelings for another robot, Eve. But that's not all: the film provides a very serious look at the effects of climate change, overconsumption, and general neglect of planet Earth.

The 2010s Embraced Other Cultures

Disney revealed some of the most beloved princess movies in the 2010s, including Tangled, Moana, and the ultra-popular Frozen. The company also delved into many different cultures, representing a wider swath of identities than in past decades. However, the best-rated Disney film was Zootopia with an 8.0/10. Zootopia tells the story of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, a bunny cop and a fox thief, who work together to solve the disappearances of predators around the city. The movie includes many subtle nods to issues and power dynamics that humans face in real-life.

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The highest-rated Pixar movie rated was Coco, with an 8.4/10. Coco beautifully highlighted Mexican culture, portraying the Land of the Dead and how the culture treats death. The movie has, understandably, amassed a considerable amount of fans since its release in 2017.

The 2020s Have Hardly Begun But Promise Greatness

Only two years into the 2020s and Disney/Pixar came out with movies that enthralled viewers and smashed the box office. Movies like Encanto and Turning Red opened fans up to internalized traumas, starkly contrasted by fun songs and storylines. The highest-rated Disney movie of the 2020s (thus far) is Raya and the Last Dragon, with a 7.3/10 on IMDb. Raya is a story from Southeast Asia about a young woman trying to save the world of Kumandra and bring dragons back to the world.

The Pixar movie with the best IMDb rating was Soul, with an 8.0/10. Although it premiered exclusively on Disney+, it was still very successful and introduced Joe, a jazz musician whose soul left his body. During his journey back to his body, he learns what matters in life, and to cherish loved ones. The 2020s have been incredibly successful thus far, and fans can't wait to see what comes from the rest of the decade.


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