My Favorite Animated Scenes, 20-11

It continues! Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read these! I like lists because they help me keep my thoughts straight.

20. Up (2009)- Married Life

My first memory of this scene was in theaters, sitting next to my older brother Spencer. We came into the room, laughing and joking about my brother’s crush on one of the workers there. (She became his wife several months later.) The movie started, and when this montage of Carl and Ellie’s married life ended, I looked over at my brother, and we both were crying.

So many people talk about this short five-minute clip, and how powerful it is. When I was a music teacher at a middle school several years ago, I used it as an example of a modern-day silent film. When animators take the right music is put to beautiful imagery, that is when cinematography implants itself into a viewer’s heart.

19. Spirited Away (2001)- Procession of Spirits

This is probably Hayao Miyazaki’s best-known animated film. Spirited Away won Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli their one and only Oscar for Best Animated Film in 2003, and is often listed as one of the greatest animated (and overall) films ever made. I thought long and hard what scene in particular I loved and I decided to pick the procession of spirits near the film’s beginning.

Of all the scenes which intrigued me since childhood, Chihiro’s first nightly encounter with the spirit realm has always fascinated me. From her parents turning into pigs, her flight through a then bustling restaurant district, and to the long procession of spirits coming from a boat upon a wide river, this three-minute clip is a visual feast!

18. Tangled (2010)- I See the Light

I am definitely in the Tangled movie fan club. I love the color pallette for the background and character designs, Rapunzel’s charming energy and innocence, and Flynn Rider’s many wonderful one liners. My favorite scene is Flynn and Rapunael’s love song.

I’ve always liked how their love story never made it feel like the story was ending. It felt like a beautiful new beginning. Through “I See the Light,” Flynn and Rapunzel both fulfilled their dreams and created new ones. I like to think falling in love doesn’t have to be the climax of a couple’s journey. It can be a sweet beginning.

Other things I like about this scene are the lights and the music itself. All in all, it is just beautiful.

17. The Princess and the Frog (2009)- Friends on the Other Side

My love for this movie is as vast as the ocean! Or, at least, that is how I felt as an eighteen/nineteen-year-old college student. (I might have had a crush on Naveen.) Now I love it like a delicious sandwich. All jokes aside, I admire this movie for its creative take on “The Princess and the Frog” fairytale and its amazing soundtrack.

Of all the songs from this movie, Friends on the Other Side has stayed my favorite. Keith David can sing. He gave Dr. Facilier’s character such a vibrant personality. I fell in love with his singing the moment the song came on screen. I was a vocal major at the time, so I couldn’t stop gushing about his performance for a couple of weeks. I also really love the character animation for Naveen, Lawrence, and Dr. Facilier throughout this whole song. Their designs and movements are so interesting to study. Also, the colors used in the backgrounds are gorgeous!

16. Moana (2014)- Returning the Heart

Moana has some of the most gorgeous animated scenes I have ever seen. The part of the story which touched me the most was Moana’s short song as she walked towards Te Kā. I read an article from a fan of this movie a few years ago. She talked about how this scene specifically helped her face an emotionally damaging event in her life. She said when Moana sang, “They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” she felt an incredible weight life off of her. Her trauma did not define her.

This scene is what overcoming emotional trauma looks like. I’ve often think of that woman’s article and now it is all I can think of while I see this movie.

15.The Lady and the Tramp (1954)- Belle Note

I have a soft spot in my heart for Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp. It’s not Disney’s most flashy story, but I’ve always liked how innocent and grounded it is. Some of life’s most treasured moments are sitting and sharing a beautiful night with someone you love. That’s what I think of every time I see and hear “Belle Note.” Simple dreams and memories are sometimes the most beautiful. 

14. Fantasia (1940)-Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria

This is easily my absolute favorite portion of Fantasia. This is an incredible example of artistic dualism, or stark contrasts used in art and literature to highlight a moral ideal. As Deems Taylor stated in his introduction, Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria are “two pieces of music so utterly different in construction andmood that they set each other off perfectly.” In this case, Disney animators used the boldly sacrilegious vision of Chernobog, the Slavic vision of the devil sitting atop Bald Mountain, to contrast Christian believers walking towards the dawn’s light.

These sequences in Disney’s Fantasia give me hope that good will always conquer evil. “Night on Bald Mountain” hosts one of animation’s grandest villains, whose design and concept have both fascinated and terrified viewers for decades. The animation during this part of the sequence doesn’t hide the multilayered effects evil has on the world, what it looks like, or how how it moves. But, “Night on Bald Mountain” also makes it clear good will always triumph over evil.

13. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)- Jack’s Lament

I am now a fan of German Expressionist filmmaking because of The Nightmare Before Christmas. These films incorporated dark, surreal themes embellished through light manipulation, stylized sets and backgrounds, embellished acting methods, and innovative camera techniques. These directors and others in the German studios used these tools to unmask the inner workings of the human soul and understand the true meaning behind the seemingly impenetrable mystery of reality.

Thus, watching “Jack’s Lament” is wonderful for me because I love the music and recognizing the symbolism etched into the backgrounds and Jack’s character animation. This scene, much like German expressionist silent films, uses its stylized backgrounds to lead its audience deeper into the story. It helps viewers understand Jack as a character feeling lost in a monotonous life cycle.

12. Mulan (1998)- Mulan reunites with her Father

On a personal note, this scene reminds me of my father. When I was eight years old, I sang Mulan’s song “Reflection” for my second grade music recital. As I grew up, I become really shy and struggled singing in front of other people. My dad would have me sing him this song often, to remind me I could be brave.

Every time Fa Zhou throws Mulan’s war tokens to the ground and says, “The greatest gift and honor, is having you for a daughter.” I choke up. My Dad is so much like him and this movie always reminds me how much he has helped me and loves me.

11. Klaus (2018)- Margu’s Present

I had a hard time deciding my favorite scene from this movie as well. But after going through major scenes throughout Klaus, I realized this part made me believe “A true selfless act always sparks another.” This scene wasn’t about Jesper or Klaus, but a small girl Margu. She mattered. Even if they couldn’t understand her language, even if her family was not from that town, her small wish was just as important as the other children’s. I become emotional just thinking about it.

I also think this is the scene where Jesper realized he wanted to be part of something bigger. For the first time, he valued the service they did. “Zara Larsson’s song Invisible” is very beautiful as well. This scene helped me recognize Klaus is a very special movie. 



  1. The “Married Life” segment of Up always makes me tear up (at least). And the “I See the Light” scene in Tangled is SO BEAUTIFUL–both visually and emotionally. Ahhhhh, I love Margu! And that scene. And that whole movie. ❤

    1. aubreym3 says:

      I’m glad we love so many of the same scenes!

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