Which Disney Plus movies are truly the best? It's a big question. With the streaming service now available in most major markets around the world, its roster of big-budget films is slowly growing, after launching with a formidable library of old favorites back in 2019.
Disney Plus boasts decades' worth of Disney animated classics, as well as the finest offerings from Pixar, Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But while the platform is still one of the newer kids on the streaming block, its hefty library of content might appear overwhelming if you’re not sure where to look.
Below, we've singled out the best Disney Plus movies available to stream right now, so you can make the best use of your time and dive into the cream of the streamer’s digital library. Note that some of these might not be available where you are – we're basing the below on the UK streaming library, though you'll find the choices are pretty similar wherever you're reading this from.
If you're looking for the best Disney Plus TV shows, we can give you a hand with that, too. These are the best Disney Plus movies, as of 2021, divided by genre – note this doesn't cover Star movies if you live outside the US.
- How to watch the Star Wars movies in order
- How to watch the Marvel movies in order
- The Mandalorian season 3: what we know
Best Disney Plus movies: Marvel
Disney Plus has the Marvel movies available to stream – though not all of them, with the Spider-Man movies and The Incredible Hulk not available. Below we've picked out some highlights, but pretty much any MCU movie on Disney Plus is entertaining, minus Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The Avengers movies
The Avengers movies encompass the best of what Marvel has to offer, and all four of them are on Disney Plus: The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Infinity War and Endgame. It helps if you're watching the movies around them, but collectively these team-up movies do equal one great long-running story. Seeing Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor and Hawkeye assemble in the first movie felt like an unprecedented event – hence its enormous box office success. Subsequent movies amp up the stakes, though the 2012 original probably remains the strongest all these years later.
Black Panther is one of the best solo movies in the MCU. Even non-Marvel fans flocked to cinemas to marvel at the fictional African city of Wakanda and its excellent, and predominantly black, cast. Not only is it a major milestone in that sense, it also became the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time as it tells an extremely powerful story, now tinged with sadness after the untimely passing of King T'Challa himself, Chadwick Boseman.
Added in late 2019 to Disney Plus, Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best of the Thor trilogy. It features Mark Ruffalo's Hulk and introduces Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, and is generally a lot funnier than your average Marvel picture (and their batting average for jokes is already pretty good). That's because it's the work of Taika Waititi, director of offbeat movies like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows.
Guardians of the Galaxy
We've put a few other Marvel movies on this list, but they are genuinely pretty different propositions. This first Guardians movie remains a wild, weird and funny sci-fi adventure, with an oddball bunch of characters that now somehow find themselves with comparable popularity to the likes of Iron Man and Captain America. The second one isn't quite as good, but you'll probably watch it anyway if you're running an MCU marathon.
2008’s Iron Man was the first entry in the now-massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, and fully deserves to be one of Disney Plus’ launch titles. We wouldn’t have got all the way to Endgame if Robert Downey Jr hadn’t done so well stepping into the shoes of Tony Stark the way he did. Those flip phones and MySpace references haven’t aged gracefully, but the film itself is still as strong as ever.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War
The Russo Brothers' two Cap movies are of a piece with one another, and a big contrast to the WWII-set original Captain America movie.
The third Captain America film is as much an Avengers film as it is about Steve Rogers himself, featuring most of the characters seen in Age of Ultron – and Black Panther and Spider-Man besides. This gets to the heart of Captain America and Iron Man more than perhaps any other Marvel movie to date.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The X-Men movies took a while to come to Disney Plus, but wherever you are, you should be able to stream a selection of them now. Days of Future Past is our pick of the main series – minus Logan, which is too adult for the kid-friendly Disney Plus (though international users will eventually be able to stream it via Star). Set across two timeframes, 1973 and the far future, it brings together both the old and new X-Men casts in a way that results in a satisfying, ambitious story for each.
Best Disney Plus movies: Star Wars
Following The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney Plus subscribers have access to every feature film set in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: A New Hope
Whichever Star Wars film is deemed ‘the best’ is up for debate, but as a saga it’s hard to watch just one and be done with it.
Thankfully every single Star Wars movie is available on Disney Plus already, including the animated Clone Wars movie most people seem to forget. The original trilogy is presented in 4K for the first time, with Dolby Vision. The only question you have to ask is what order you watch them all in...
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
There are few more iconic films ever made than perhaps the finest Star Wars episode, The Empire Strikes Back. The second film in the original trilogy was freed of the need for exposition and world building of A New Hope, and could get straight to the galaxy-consuming set pieces, mind-blowing twists, and family drama writ large across the stars. Darker, deeper, but also funnier than the other films in the saga, it's hard to imagine The Empire Strikes Back ever being forgotten.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
It's a testament to the scope of the Star Wars universe that just a single line from it can be spun out into an entire movie, and it's one of the better instalments at that. The first paragraph of A New Hope's legendary yellow opening scrawl documents a daring rebel heist to steal secret Imperial plans. This is the story that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells well, despite reports of production issues, in the style of a gritty war movie. It also just so happens to feature Darth Vader's best scene.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Few films reflect our divided times quite as well as Rian Johnson's take on a galaxy far, far away: for most, either it's one of the best of the lot, or it should be scrubbed from the epic canon post-haste.
Ultimately it's a film unafraid of taking risks, with many of the more challenging plot threads largely ignored or squashed in the arguably safer ending of the trilogy of trilogies, The Rise of Skywalker. But whichever side of the controversy you stand, The Last Jedi is still a relentlessly entertaining way to spend two-and-a-half hours. Plus aren't Porgs just the cutest thing? We can all agree on that, surely?
Best Disney Plus movies: Pixar/CG-animated
Disney's modern output is defined less by animated 2D films, which it simply stopped making, and instead by the CG-animated output of Pixar and the similarly-styled non-Pixar CG films that followed.
If Snow White was responsible for starting Disney’s animated dominance, Toy Story did the same for Pixar. It’s aged incredibly well since its 1995 debut, and Disney Plus makes it the perfect way to introduce your own kids to the film and make them suspicious of whether their toys are secretly alive or not – or, since there are now four films in the series, kick off a Toy Story marathon.
If you ever meet someone who doesn’t love WALL-E, then I suggest you run far, far away from them. Pixar movies have a habit of being both memorable and outrageously cute, but WALL-E takes it to another level.
It’s impossible to not love the trash-compacting robot on his impossible task of trying to clean up the Earth, and his growing romance with new robot companion EVE really tugs on the heartstrings. Equal parts adorable and heroic, it’s a must-watch for any Pixar fan.
The Incredibles 1 and 2
Both of The Incredibles films, directed by Brad Bird, are worth watching on Disney Plus. The first is a great Fantastic Four-esque tale about a family of superheroes – it was right at the beginning of the comic book movie boom, and is still better than most of the Marvel and DC films that followed. The second Incredibles might not hit the same star status that the original does, but following the family through their new life as re-instated heroes is enhanced by the great conceit of assigning Mr. Incredible the role of a stay-at-home dad.
The novelty factor of watching a new Pixar film on Disney Plus that barely released in cinemas before theaters started closing is enormous. It's arguably not peak Pixar, but it's well worth watching. Onward is about two brothers (played by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) living in a fantasy-infused world, who go on a road trip with the goal of bringing their father back to life. It's a beautiful-looking film in the kind of setting Pixar hasn't really touched before, so make sure you give it a look.
Big Hero 6
What do you get when you cross a Marvel comic with Disney’s animation studios? Big Hero 6, a story about a boy and his robot. A robot that helps inspire him and his friends to become superheroes and protect the city of San Fransokyo. There’s a perfect mix of visuals (blending American and Japanese cultures and aesthetics) with a heartwarming story, and by the end of it you’ll never think of a simple fist bump the same way again.
When it comes to Disney’s recent animated offerings, nothing really tops Frozen. Those songs have a habit of setting up camp in your brain and never leaving, to the point where it became Disney’s best-selling animated film to date. A sequel was almost guaranteed from the get-go, and with Frozen 2 coming before the end of 2019, it’s the perfect time to remind yourself of what made the original so great.
Frozen 2 tells a more mature story than the 2013 original, with sisters Anna and Elsa embarking on a new adventure that leads back to their parents’ mysterious past. The songs are seriously catchy, and while nothing will beat ultimate earworm Let it Go, the new track Into the Unknown isn’t far behind. There’s the occasional joke for parents to appreciate too, including a Queen tribute from a lovelorn Kristoff, complete with harmonizing reindeer.
Inside Out's premise simple, but ingenious, and expertly sustained for over 100 minutes in this Pixar modern classic. Here, five characters play the feelings of a girl called Riley, led by Joy (played by a typically excitable Amy Poehler) and her excellent foil, the endearingly melancholic Sadness (The Office's Phyllis Smith). Children will love the bright colors and the wacky Bing Bong, older children will relate, and adults will feel the emotional twinge of watching a child grow up and move on. Exceptional.
Coco is an excellent film – and a feast for the senses. It follows the musical adventure of Miguel as he stumbles through the colorful Land of the Dead, in search of a long-lost relative. Despite its vibrant visuals, Coco remains one of the studio’s most thoughtful and mature pictures to date, taking audiences through an emotional tale of love, loss and remembrance.
The Lion King (2019)
2019's The Lion King isn't the first Disney revamp of a classic tale, nor will it be the last. However, while we didn't necessarily need to see Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa in fully-realised live action, this modern-day refresh looks astonishing. Complementing the eerily lifelike singing animals is a star-studded voice cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor's gravelly tones enhance Scar's menace and John Oliver and Seth Rogen add an extra dose of humour to this updated all-timer.
Best Disney Plus movies: Live action
In recent years, Disney has doubled down on making live-action versions of its biggest animated classics to mixed effect, but that's far from the only non-Star Wars, non-Marvel animated movies you'll find on Disney Plus.
It might be surprising to hear that TRON is a Disney film. It certainly doesn’t fit the mold of Disney’s other old-school live-action flicks, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
TRON was a pioneer in CGI effects, and as dated as they look now the film’s vision of a virtual world is still mind-blowing. Good science fiction keeps us looking towards the future, and until we can enter a TRON-like world of our own, it’s still a fine example of what could be – more so than the Ready Player One movie, at least.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Another film with revolutionary VFX, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is no simple whodunnit. It manages to seamlessly blend live action and animation, and makes you believe there’s a world where Bob Hoskins really could interact with a flamboyant cartoon rabbit.
That said, the real magic is how Disney managed to get the rights to all the animated icons it didn’t own. Who would have thought Daffy Duck and Mickey Mouse would ever appear in a film together?
It was the biggest film of all time before Marvel came along, and no doubt one of the key reasons Disney bought out Fox. It may have been ten years since it was released, but Avatar still looks as visually impressive as ever. And with four sequels on the way starting with Avatar 2, it’s the perfect time to catch up.
The Muppets Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ best known work has been adapted many, many times over the decades, but none of them come close to the heart and playfulness of The Muppets version – certainly one of the better Christmas films out there. With the holiday season coming up this should definitely be on everybody’s watch list, even if it’s just to see Michael Caine and Kermit the Frog share screen time.
Disney's 2019 Aladdin outing could've gone very wrong indeed: Guy Ritchie certainly isn't averse to producing a flop and the media company has a troubled history with the story, including the controversial 1992 version. But that didn't happen, and this modern retelling of one of Disney's best yarns lets Will Smith shine in a less-serious role, and stays true to a classic story.
Best Disney Plus movies: Animated classics
Disney Plus is defined by easy access to the animated Disney library. Here are a few of the highlights from that impressive archive.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Is it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? It could be both, but Disney Plus is launching in the middle of both holidays and that means it’s the perfect time to watch it. Halloween and Christmas don’t really mash together very well (as Jack Skellington is shocked to find out), but somehow The Nightmare Before Christmas makes it work. And if that doesn’t make you want to tune in, then maybe the chance to watch some old-school stop motion animation will.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The original Disney movie, released back in 1937, proved instrumental in kicking off several decades of animation dominance at the House of Mouse. It wasn’t the first thing Disney ever made, but without Snow White we probably wouldn’t have everything that came afterwards. There are 80+ years of animated Disney films to enjoy, but you have to start somewhere – and it might as well be the beginning.
Bambi has been traumatizing children ever since it first arrived in 1942, and its arrival on Disney Plus means it can continue traumatizing modern kids in exactly the same way. No childhood is really complete without seeing the tragedy of Bambi’s mother being shot (as cruel as it may be), and its presence on Disney Plus means your own kids can experience that rite of passage for themselves.
Who knows, maybe the nostalgia will be enough to sit you down in front of it yourself.
The Lion King
It's tricky to pick one film from the '90s Disney animation renaissance, but this was arguably the centerpiece of an amazing time for the studio: an epic story of betrayal, romance, and adorable lion cubs, with beautiful animation. The absurd success of 2019's live-action remake is built on nostalgia for this classic.
Beauty and the Beast
With all the amazing Disney Plus movies available on the service, it's easy to forget that it wasn't always plain sailing for the House of Mouse. It rather lost its way following Walt's death in 1966 with a string of bland efforts. But, as audiences craved experiences not just for kids, but the whole family, Disney came roaring into the 90s with The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.
Inspired by a French fairytale of the same name, Beauty and the Best is a masterpiece fable about romance and redemption that is up there with the best animated films ever made. That said, as with many of Disney's vintage animations, it also received a middling live-action remake.
It seems remarkably odd nowadays, but Sleeping Beauty, a fixture in childhoods the world over, was the last Disney-adapted fairy tale for decades after its 1959 release, in part due to its mixed reception and relatively weak box office performance. At the time critics compared it unfavorably with the arguably superior Snow White, but whether you agree or not, we can still enjoy the splendor of both as a spellbinding back-to-back anytime we like on Disney Plus.
- Disney Plus price, bundles and sign-up: how to get on the Disney wagon