Disney's Five Best "I Want" Songs

1. "Part of Your World," The Little Mermaid (1989)

Of the songs on this list, this one benefits its movie the most. Without it, Ariel might appear to be a spoiled brat (or more than she already does, as the detractors would say). She makes her case with some pretty singing and some brilliant work from lyricist Howard Ashman and animator Glen Keane. The song makes us understand that Ariel’s dream is a heartfelt desire and not some superficial sweet sixteen present.


Disney's Five Best Animal Supporting Characters

1. Sebastian, The Little Mermaid (1989)

For me, the most interesting Disney sidekicks are the ones who have their own story instead of just being around as the protagonist's receiver. Sebastian, for instance, is not even on Ariel's side until halfway through the movie. He just wants to do his job and to avoid Triton's rather horrid temper. It’s only when Ariel gets herself into a risky situation that he steps forward to help her. He’s got a big heart that doesn’t show itself right away, plus he’s a master at organizing musical numbers on the fly.


Disney's Five Best Serious Villains
Only the upcoming Best Movies list was anywhere near as hard to decide as this one. By the way, how telling is it that I found just one video for yesterday’s protagonists and I found videos for all of these villains?

1. Lady Tremaine, Cinderella (1950)

This woman has to be one of the easiest villains to hate. Even though she relishes having the beautiful Cinderella act as maid to her two ugly daughters, she always looks serene in her triumph instead of ecstatic. All she has to do is flash that cruel, vindictive smile to show her pleasure at Cinderella’s misery. We have two people to thank for this nasty character. Eleanor Audley performed the role with nothing short of evil grace and vile dignity, and Frank Thomas built upon that with rigid yet expressive animation. Lady Tremaine is spite incarnate, and watching her get her comeuppance in the end must be the most satisfying defeat in any of Disney’s films.


Disney's Five Best Heroes

1. Beast, Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The first male lead in Disney’s fairy tales to have a character arc, the Beast is not an easy person to like at first. It’s only when gentility subdues his angry despair that we care for him. Both Robby Benson’s performance and Glen Keane’s animation make him one of the most versatile characters in all of Disney, and likely all of animation. He can be monstrous in one sequence and endearing in the next. My only major quibble is I don't think we really see the point where he knows he loves Belle. It feels too sudden for me, but that’s more a story problem than a character problem. It does not diminish what a lovable brute this fellow is.


This Tuesday, Disney releases Tangled, its "50th" animated feature, on Blu-ray and DVD. [I use quotes around 50th because Dinosaur (2000) wasn't considered part of the canon until two or three years ago, as far as I know.] To mark this occasion, I'll be doing a week-long retrospective on Disney's animated lineup starting on Monday. Each day will see two lists with five choices apiece. The first three days will focus on characters, the next three days will focus on songs and the seventh day will be my choices for Disney's ten best animated features. Each entry will come with a corresponding YouTube clip when available. Otherwise, I'll use screencaps from Magical Screencaps. Even though some movies will inevitably be more featured than others, I've tried as much as I can to inject variety into these lists. I hope you'll find my choices fair and stimulating. I'll leave you for now with a few samples of things I'll be saying this week (without naming anything, of course).

"His animation makes him one of the most versatile characters in all of Disney, and likely all of animation."

"First, I'd say she ties with Jasmine as Disney's most gorgeous princess."

"I consider this musical number the grandfather of all Disney villain songs."

"How can you compete with a finale of such unadulterated happiness?"

"Even against the frights in Pinocchio and the religious overtones in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this movie stands as one of Disney's most adult features."