Walt Disney would’ve celebrated his 118th birthday on December 5, 2019. The producer and studio mogul was a pioneer in the field of animation, proving it could be used for more than just creating amusing shorts for kids. In honor of his birthday, lets take a look back at all 19 animated features produced during his lifetime or that he personally worked on, ranked worst to best.
After years producing amusing shorts, most of them staring a lovable mouse named Mickey (voiced by Walt himself), Disney broke new ground with the first feature length animated film: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937). Both a radical experiment in filmmaking and a revolution in storytelling, it proved cartoons were a viable means of artistic expression. Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, in fact, called it the greatest movie ever made, no small praise for the man who made “Battleship Potemkin” (1925).
With each subsequent feature — “Pinocchio” (1940), “Fantasia” (1940), “Dumbo” (1941), and “Bambi” (1942) — Disney and his team of animators refined their visual and narrative techniques, boldly going where no cartoonists had gone before. Their innovations laid the groundwork for one of the most successful studios in movie history, one that is still producing financially and artistically viable works decades after its founder’s death in 1966.
Disney has a unique distinction in Oscar history: with 22 victories out of 59 nominations, he handily holds the record for most wins by an individual. (One of those trophies, Best Animated Short for “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” in 1968, was rewarded posthumously.)
Surprisingly, he only once competed for producing a Best Picture contender: “Mary Poppins” in 1964. Though it reaped 13 bids and five trophies (including Best Actress for Julie Andrews), it ultimately lost the big prize to another prestige musical, “My Fair Lady.”
Tour our Happy Birthday photo gallery of every animated Disney feature film produced while Walt was alive, and see if your favorite tops the list.
Original text by Zach Laws.
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