My Favorite Animated Movie Scenes: 50-41

Screenshot from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Example of pencil animation vs. cleaned animation

I decided to compile a list of my favorite animated sequences to give myself a break. I have been doing a lot of research lately and need a slight reprieve from the heavy-duty topics I’ve recently posted. There will be fifty slots total that will range from technically brilliant sequences and emotionally rendered scenes. Let’s get started!

First, here are a few honorable mentions.

Now on to the first ten scenes!

50. Thumbelina (1994)- Let Me Be Your Wings

Former Disney animator Don Bluth directed this film to copy the Disney Renaissance musicals. The movie is accidentally hilarious but charming in its own way. As far as contributing to animation, this movie did use rotoscoping in its character animation in places and CGI in its backgrounds.

I usually watch this movie for a good laugh, but lately, I’ve appreciated the animation and sequencing for “Let Me Be Your Wings.” Barry Manilow wrote the lyrics and music for the song, and the scene feels like a dance. I especially like the lighting and choreography when they dance over the water. I also think Jodi Bensen and Gary Imhoff sang the song very well.

49. The Rescuers Down Under (1991)- Eagle Flight

After The Rescuers’ success in 1977, then president of Walt Disney Studio Animation Peter Schneider and Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to make a sequel, based in Australia. The Rescuers Down Under became the first action-adventure film without any musical numbers. It was also the first animated film to use the Computer Animated Production system (CAPS ), which digital ink and paint and compositing instead of hand-painted cels.

This might be the first American film that showcased a realistic animated flying sequence. That is why the most memorable scenes were with the golden eagle Marahute. My favorite scene from the movie is when Marahute swoops down and saves Cody before flying back to her eggs. The staging for this scene is incredible. The art directors and animators placed the characters above the wide-open Australian wilderness through huge background shots and swooping visuals. It felt like the audience also was flying with Marahute, drinking in the beautiful scenery. At least, that was how it was for me as a child. Glen Keane did an amazing job, as always, animating and personifying Marahute.

48. Meet the Robinsons (2007)- These Little Wonders

This was Walt Disney Animation studio’s first official 3D animated film. It was a big step for the studio, especially after the many failures they had had since Lilo and Stitch (2002). Despite its average story and style, it had fairly positive reviews and a good message.

I really like this movie as a teenager. I thought Lewis’s journey to find a family was heartwarming. My favorite scene from the movie was the ending. I loved Rob Thomas’s song “These Little Wonders” and seeing Lewis finally finding the home he always wanted.

47. Treasure Planet (2001)- I’m Still Here

This film is full of animation innovations. It blended traditional 2D character animation, 3D character animation, and CG environments. Taking it one step further than Tarzan, the animators used the technology from Deep Canvas and applied it to moving objects. In theaters and with critics, it flopped and garnered average reviews at best.

Though I don’t think this is one of Disney’s best films, I have always loved the animation and emotionality during the song “I’m Still Here.” Jim’s blossoming friendship with Long John and childhood stuck with me ever since I saw this movie in fifth grade. I’ve always thought Jim wanted to feel needed. His lack of a father figure in his life is something many people can identify with. I think it makes him feel more human. It creates that deep connection with Jim Hawkins as a character.

46. The Swan Princess (1994)- This is My Idea

Former Disney animation director Richard Rich directed this film for Nest Entertainment. Surprisingly, it did not contribute anything new to animation as a whole beyond partnering with animators from South Korea for the cel painting. Initially, it failed in the box offices because of the Lion King’s success.

The humor and animation in this movie are rock solid, though some of the songs and story elements lack originality or cohesion. But I still like this movie, especially the animation and staging for the song “This is My Idea.” It’s refreshing to have a couple from a fairy tale movie have a long-standing relationship. Granted, as the song showed, they didn’t like each other. But they matured, and this song made their relationship believable. Plus, I think their childhood and petty dislike for each other is funny.

Sorry for the poor quality!

45. Ratatouille (2007)- Nature of Criticism

The first critically acclaimed animated film on this list, Ratatouille is an innovative and thoroughly thought provoking film. Pixar animators and director Brad Bird went out of their way to stylistically portray Paris and animate Remi and the characters more realistically. The musical score by Michael Giacchino is fantastic, the voice casting superb, and the character animation fluid.

I love watching Remi running through the walls and watching how the chefs prepared the food. My favorite scene by far is Anton Ego’s speech on the nature of criticism. This scene, and its message, really struck me recently as I thought about how I can critique films and books in my writing better. Ego’s reflections on criticism make me wonder how much people relish negative criticism. I wondered how many people are hurt or destroyed by it. This is a scene that questions our society’s obsession with political correctness and perfection.

44. Anastasia (1997)-Once Upon a December

Anastasia was Don Bluth’s one successful box office film. Since Fox Animation Studios released it, it received two Academy Award nominations for its music and is now a critically acclaimed Broadway musical. As for animation contributions it did use a mixture of 3D and 2D animation, resulting a visually beautiful film.

I loved this movie as a little girl. I even had an Anastasia limited-edition Barbie doll. As time has passed, I still remember best the animation and music for “Once Upon a December.” I fell in love with Russia because of this song. I also became obsessed with Russian history, especially concerning Anastasia and her family. This song also helped me change my view of Tsar Nicholai III. I saw him and his family as real people.

43. Fievel Goes West (1991)- Dreams to Dream

This is the sequel to Don Bluth’s An American Tale. Steven Spielberg actually used this film as a way to help animators from Who Framed Roger Rabbit keep working. Sadly, despite how much work animators and story writers put into this movie, it did not do well in box offices and I don’t think many people remember it exists.

But I like this movie. It is nostalgic enough for me to go back and see it every so often. My favorite scene is “Dreams to Dream,” sung by Cathy Cavadini. The gold coloring and music are beautiful to me. Every time I see this scene, I think of my own childhood dream to sing and be involved with music. Obviously, I moved beyond that dream, but it is nice every once in a while to remember what used to matter so much to me.

42. The Secret of NIMH (1982)- Owl

The Secret of NIMH was Don Bluth’s magnum opus. This is sad because it was his first film outside of Disney Animation Studios. Don Bluth did not approve of the short cuts animation directors proposed for their feature films. He believed in utilizing traditional techniques to make more mature visuals and movement. Throughout the film, he and the other animators utilized techniques such as rotoscoping, backlit animation for artificial lighting and fire animation, and varying color palettes. Critics and viewers really like the film on release, praising its ingenuity and mature animation.

The scene which sticks out the most for me is Mrs. Brisby’s conversation with the Owl. As a child, it scared me. As an adult, I appreciate the attention to detail animators put into the scene’s overall atmosphere. It is almost as though you can feel the cobwebs and taste Mrs. Brisby’s fear as she desperately talks to the towering Owl. I also like the music for this sequence, along with the background artwork.

41. Sleeping Beauty (1959)- Dragon Fight

People remember Sleeping Beauty for its mature musical score based on Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet, wide-screen background art, directed by Eyvind Earle, and its character animation. Unfortunately, this film was an expensive project. After its release, Walt Disney studios cut the budgeting and cost of future animated films. 

My favorite shot is Prince Philip’s fight with Maleficent as a dragon. For me, it feels like a moving, breathing medieval painting. The coloring is fantastic, the staging extraordinary, and the musical score creates a fantastic atmosphere. I love how huge Maleficent feels in every shot. Her transformation and line “Now you shall deal with me, O Prince., and all the powers of Hell!” is amazingly dramatic! This is one of the most poignant fights between good and evil ever depicted in Film.

2 Comments

  1. Ah, I love so many of these! The ending of Meet the Robinsons almost always makes me tear up. Anton Ego’s speech in Ratatouille is so thought-provoking–and especially interesting considering the role his character has played throughout the movie up to this point. Secret of NIMH and Anastasia are my CHILDHOOD. So full of nostalgia and fond memories (and incredible animation and music). Oh, the battle in Sleeping Beauty is so legendary!

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