Disney Plus has come a long way since its launch three years ago. Aside from serving as the home to the company’s massive back catalog of classic movies, the service has since transformed into the de facto streaming destination for the company’s biggest franchises and studios. Between Disney animation, DCOMs, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and 20th Century Studios, there’s something for everyone — and if there isn’t, there likely will be soon enough.
We’ve plumbed the depths of Disney Plus’ library like Scrooge McDuck leaping from a diving board into his pool of questionably gotten riches, and we have pulled together a list of the very best films you can watch on the service. Here are the best movies to watch on Disney Plus this month.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis: The Lost Empire was supposed to change the face of Disney animation, but it ended up quietly disappearing. Following plucky academic Milo Thatch who dedicates his life to finding the lost city of Atlantis, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a riveting adventure with a fun and colorful cast. It’s action-packed with a lot of humor and heart that just operates by the rule of cool with its lumbering steampunk/dieselpunk aesthetic and gorgeously rendered ancient civilization. This hidden gem mesmerized a generation of kids who grew up watching it on home video, and now it’s right here on Disney Plus. —Petrana Radulovic
Polygon has already gone on record about how this Cinderella (colloquially known as the Brandy Cinderella) is the most Cinderella of all Cinderella movies out there. It is an utter delight — the set design is lavish and colorful, the right blend of stage sensibilities for a TV screen. The costumes are similarly wonderful. Cinderella and the Prince share a special and truly romantic connection. Jason Alexander plays a magnificently hilarious valet. And the songs are infectious, especially with Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Bernadette Peters commanding the cast. —PR
The Fantasia movies are notorious for being big, gorgeous creative risks that never really financially paid off for Disney. But economic legacy be damned, Fantasia 2000 is an exuberant celebration of animation and music. Each of the shorts follows a different piece of classical music, telling a specific story in a variation of animation styles — sometimes wildly departing from what one would expect. For instance, “Pines of Rome” by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi becomes a tale of flying whales, and graduation classic “Pomp and Circumstance” is now Donald Duck as Noah herding animals onto an ark. But even the tales that don’t subvert expectations, like a beautiful take on George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” are evocative and memorable. —PR
Free Solo, the winner of the 2018 Academy Award for best documentary, is definitely a movie about scaling El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope. But it’s also a movie about love and passion. The scenes of Alex Honnold, the main subject, climbing mountains with nothing to stop him from falling off are dizzying and beautiful. And the movie cares just as much about the quiet parts of climbing. We see Honnold carefully plan every step and handhold he’ll use on his climbs — no move is a guess. But the real brilliance of the documentary comes in the way it handles Honnold as a person, and questions what drives someone to pursue a passion that’s likely to kill them. —Austen Goslin
Holes is one of the best book-to-film adaptations out there. This off-kilter movie follows a young teenager named Stanley who is falsely accused of a crime and serves his sentence at a work camp, where he and the rest of the delinquents dig holes in the sprawling Texas desert. At first it just sucks, but soon Stanley realizes there’s a reason the domineering Warden is making them dig all these holes. Much like the book, the movie weaves in multiple stories, following a few different time periods, and when they all come together at the end, it’s just satisfying. Young Shia LaBeouf leads the cast, which also includes Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, Eartha Kitt, and Dulé Hill. —PR
Lilo & Stitch
By far one of the weirdest little movies ever made by Disney animation, Lilo & Stitch is a miracle. It’s about an alien who befriends a little girl in Hawaii, but it’s also about two sisters grieving for their parents and outsiders coming together. It’s gorgeously animated and just the right amount of weird and heartwarming. And the music is phenomenal! With Stitch being as popular a character as he is, it’s easy to forget just how offbeat and wonderful the movie is. Lilo & Stitch is still a gem. —PR
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
OK, look, we get that Captain Jack Sparrow commanded the attention of audiences when the Pirates of the Caribbean movies first came out, but the real gem here is Elizabeth Swann. Jack’s swagger is funny, but Elizabeth drives the heart of the movies and at the end of the day, they serve as one, big, pirate-zombie, seafaring, swashbuckling coming-of-age story for the governor’s daughter destined for more. The main trilogy, which focuses on Elizabeth and dreamy Will Turner, is stronger than the Jack-focused spinoffs for this reason. And the first movie, which tosses us into this lush world and its splendid mythos, is the strongest of them all. —PR
The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride has it all — swashbucklers, epic adventures, incredibly quotable humor, Cary Elwes, and a lovely romance that ties it all together. It’s a fairy-tale fantasy that plays with familiar tropes and breathes new life into them. The amount of pop culture references and quotes birthed from this movie is frankly inconceivable. Witty, funny, and deeply romantic, The Princess Bride is a fun fantasy romp with a very sweet framing device of a grandfather reading his grandson a bedtime story, which preserves the narrative of the William Goldman book a little better than a straightforward adaptation. —PR
Andrew Stanton’s science fiction odyssey, set in 2185, is a triptych of disparate stories glued together with feels. There’s the dystopian tale of a worker bot tidying up a busted, deserted world that could easily stand alone as a short; there’s the love story of two robots, a pure blend of Asimov and Disney; and there’s the rescue mission, a galactic journey that whisks WALL-E to the Axiom mothership for an encounter with a HAL 9000-like AI. Our li’l robot friend, brought to life through the beeps and boops of Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, beholds every narrative jump with binocular-eyed wonder. So do we.
Elegiac and eerie, WALL-E is a love letter to everything Stanton would miss about Earth (Hello, Dolly! chief among them) and an impassioned plea for us slovenly earthlings to do what we can to save it before it’s too late. We’ll see if humanity can get its act together, but even if we’re destined to decimate the planet and float around in hover chairs on a rocket-powered shopping mall for the rest of our days, we’ll always have WALL-E and EVE dancing among the stars, an ode to the beauty that once was. As is the ongoing mission of Pixar, WALL-E conjures romantic truth. —Matt Patches