Top 10 Best Disney Movies of the 2000s



Top 10 Best Disney Movies of the 2000s

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
The best Disney movies of the 2000s contain some of the Mouse House's most underrated treasures.
With the new millennium came uncharted waters for Disney. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Disney Movies of the 2000s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the greatest theatrically released Disney movies produced between 2000 and 2009. We’ll be including both live-action and animated, but are excluding Pixar. We’re also not including anything that aired on the Disney Channel since that deserves a list of its own. Come on, we have to “Stick to the Status Quo!”

#10: “Freaky Friday” (2003)

Some of Disney’s live-action outputs really don’t get the respect they deserve. Case in point – “Freaky Friday,” a body-switching romp starring Lindsay Lohan as Jamie Lee Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis as Lindsay Lohan. That alone should sell you to watch it if you haven’t; with quotable lines and awkward situations galore, watching Curtis act like a teenage girl is hysterical. Her Golden Globe-nominated performance is magnificent, hilariously childish, and highly energetic. We also can’t write off Lindsay Lohan, who plays the lost and confused career woman with utter conviction. If you want a time capsule of what life was like in 2003, from the amazing soundtrack, to the important fashion, and Chad Michael Murray, this should more than do the trick.

#9: “Treasure Planet” (2002)

“Treasure Planet” might have been a box office bomb for Disney, but it was through no fault of its own. The movie itself is really quite good, serving as a unique science fiction spin on Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic “Treasure Island.” Plus, it contains the vocal talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, and Martin Short among others. While concept and cast go a long way, it’s the gorgeous visuals that truly elevate “Treasure Planet.” It’s a wondrous mix of styles and genres, and is easily one of Disney’s most visually compelling works. However, it was forced to compete with “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in theaters, so it’s just a case of stiff competition.

#8: “Holes” (2003)

“Holes” is one of Disney’s more mature live-action outputs, thanks largely to writer Louis Sachar, who wonderfully adapted his own novel to the screen. Leading a formidable ensemble cast is Shia LaBeouf as Stanley Yelnats, a young teenager who’s sent to a juvenile corrections camp. Here, he quite literally unearths treasure, as well as a story spanning centuries, various family lines, and explains why he’s so darn unlucky. It’s a surprisingly complex and emotional story, brought to life in stunning and expansive detail under director Andrew Davis, the production crew, and cinematographer Stephen St. John. Though it’s a family movie, this is by no means an easy watch, but older kids should find more than enough to enjoy and contemplate. Also “Dig It” is STILL stuck in our heads.

#7: “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)

Disney could’ve called this “Atlantis: The Lost Movie,” because people too often forget this movie exists - and that’s a tragedy! “Atlantis” stars Michael J. Fox as Milo James Thatch, a cartographer who sets off on an expedition to the underwater city of Atlantis. Unlike ‘90s Disney classics, “Atlantis” ditches the catchy music to tell a more straightforward, old timey action-adventure story in the vein of Jules Verne and “Indiana Jones.” Producer Don Hahn noted this as a problem for the animators, who were obviously used to a more musical plot, instead now using action sequences as the crux of the narrative. The film was a risk, and ultimately a disappointment. But looking back, we have to applaud Disney for thinking outside the box, and we’ll be the first to call it underrated.

#6: “The Princess Diaries” (2001)

This movie is largely notable for introducing Anne Hathaway to the masses, playing Mia Thermopolis, a teenager who learns she’s the rightful heir to a royal family. Hathaway brings the character to life with the perfect blend of grace and goofiness - her being just 18 at the time probably helped make the performance all the more authentic. Though a “princess” movie was familiar territory for Disney, “The Princess Diaries” is endlessly charming, thanks in part to its leading lady, but also Julie Andrews, who was a queen long before taking the Genovian throne. The film, like Mia, defied expectations, and is now regarded as a classic of its genre and era.

#5: “The Princess and the Frog” (2009)

Just because it has Disney’s signature royal touch doesn’t mean “The Princess and the Frog” was a conventional Disney movie. The company took big creative risks while harkening back to their classics, using traditional hand-drawn animation, bringing in director team Ron Clements and John Musker, and incorporating Broadway-style music. Though “old school,” there were new elements, including the first African-American princess in Tiana, the setting and culture of New Orleans, and a soundtrack largely steeped in jazz. The result was one of Disney’s best, most eclectic, and most creative outputs in years, all the while proving that what was perceived as traditional could be updated with excellent results.

#4: “Enchanted” (2007)

Some might say Disney’s out of touch with reality and gives impractical expectations of what to hope for from life and love. Well, 2007’s “Enchanted,” a richly imaginative piece of work combining elements of live action, traditional animation, and CGI, is a meta-commentary on the Disney creative process. It’s also very well-made from a production standpoint, featuring creative visual design, Amy Adams’ gorgeous performance as Giselle, and catchy music by Disney veterans Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Come for James Marsden being more handsome as a real-life prince than an animated one, but stay for the hopeful and optimistic feelings each of its characters gives you - no matter if they hail from New York City or Andalasia.

#3: “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)

This movie REALLY shouldn’t have worked. For one thing, it was a pirate movie based on a theme park ride. It also starred Johnny Depp, who wasn’t really regarded as a blockbuster movie star. And finally, it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s known for his bombastic action movies like “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor.” But despite all odds and expectations, the movie proved to be a monumental success. Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow is of course legendary, but we also can’t ignore the stellar production design and visual effects, exciting action sequences, and iconic score. It’s an action classic and one of Disney’s very finest efforts.

#2: “Lilo & Stitch” (2002)

Bless the 2000s for greenlighting some wacky concepts. “Lilo & Stitch” introduced the world to a precocious little girl and a genetically engineered ball of chaos who instantly became a fan favorite. But of course, Stitch isn’t the only aspect of “Lilo & Stitch” worth considering; there’s also the imaginative and touching story, the unique utilization of the Hawaiian setting, and a soundtrack featuring Elvis Presley jams. At the heart of it, though, is a heart-warming message about the bond between sisters Nani and Lilo, and what it means to be a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, but “ohana” of course means no one gets left behind.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year” (2008)

“Meet the Robinsons” (2007)

“National Treasure” (2004)

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005)

“Bridge to Terabithia” (2007)

#1: “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)

Heralding the new millennium for Disney was “The Emperor’s New Groove,” a hilarious movie about a young Incan emperor who is transformed into a llama. The movie actually began production as a dramatic musical epic called “Kingdom of the Sun,” but was overhauled, becoming the lighthearted comedy we know and love today. The movie is filled with now-classic quotes and an energetic cast, including the deadpan David Spade and Eartha Kitt as the legendary Yzma. Unfortunately, the movie was seen as a massive financial disappointment following the ‘90s Renaissance era, but once it came out on home video, people started to see it for the brilliant piece of work that it is. But you don’t need to tell us it’s good - we know.