After months of build-up, Disney+ launched last month. Disney’s streaming platform has hundreds of movies and TV shows available to stream, spanning the many decades of animated live-action and storytelling from the studio. In fact, there’s so much available, that it can be confusing to know where to start, so we’ve jumped into the line-up to pick some must-see movies.
If the ’90s was the the decade of animated classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, then the 2000s were marked by the rise of Pixar. The success of Toy Story and its sequel in the previous decade showed that CGI technology could now support feature-length movies, and Pixar proved themselves masters at combining pioneering tech with inventive, heartfelt, and hilarious movies. From Finding Nemo and The Incredibles to Wall-E and Up, Pixar rarely made a misstep.
Of course, there’s more than just Pixar from the 2000s to watch on Disney+. In 2012, Disney completed a massive deal to buy Lucasfilm, and with it came the Star Wars movies. The second of the two prequels were among the biggest films of the decade. And while it would be the 2010s that would see the the Marvel Cinematic Universe become of the world-conquering box office monster it is today, the groundwork was set in the late 2000s.
Beyond that, there’s a mix of more traditional Disney animated movies, live-action hits such as Pirates of the Carribbean and National Treasure, and, of course, the film that would hold the record for the biggest movie of all time for an entire decade: James Cameron’s Avatar. So here are the best ’00s movies to stream right now on Disney+. And once you’ve finished reading, check out GameSpot’s guides to Disney+’s best movies from the 1980s and 1990s, all the Marvel movies and TV shows, and all the Stars Wars movies and shows to watch right now.
1. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
While theatrical box office remains a vital part of measuring a movie’s success, it’s not the whole story. The Emperor’s New Groove opened in December 2000 to disappointing numbers, but subsequently found a big audience at home, and was the biggest selling DVD the following year. It’s the most comedic of all the movies released since Disney’s animated renaissance, and follows an arrogant Incan emperor who is transformed into a llama. In some ways, it’s a smaller scale, less ambitious movie than some of the studio other movies, but that works in its favour, and The Emperor’s New Groove emerges as a funny, fast-moving, and hugely rewatchable romp.
2. The Princess Diaries (2001)
This hugely successful teen comedy was directed by rom-com veteran Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) and gave Anne Hathaway her breakthrough role. It’s based on the popular Young Adult novel and focuses on a shy teenager who discovers that she is heir to the throne of the (fictional) European kingdom of Genovia. With a star-making performance from Hathaway and a great supporting cast that includes Julie Andrews and Mandy Moore, The Princess Diaries has become defining teen movie of the early ’00s. It was followed by a sequel in 2004, which you can also find on Disney+.
3. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
The first of several spin-offs, sequels, and series, Lilo & Stitch introduced two of the best loved characters in modern animation. Lilo is the Hawaiian girl who befriends a chaos-causing alien she calls Stitch. Lilo & Stitch had a lower budget than many of Disney’s other animated features, and it allowed the makers to make a slightly less wholesome movie than you’d expect. Of course, kids quickly took Stitch’s socially unacceptable behavior to heart, ensuring that the pair would return for many more outings.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Expectations were not high for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie prior to its release in 2003–it was based on a theme park attraction and in a genre that hadn’t produced a hit movie for years. But it proved to be a smash, making $654 million worldwide and kickstarting one the the decade’s biggest franchises. It’s the best film in the series and delivers thrilling, inventive action and uproarious comedy. And while Johnny Depp was famous prior to this movie, his iconic, Oscar-nominated portrayal of Jack Sparrow quickly made him one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
5. Finding Nemo (2003)
While there were some enjoyable movies from Disney’s more traditional animation department in the 2000s, it was Pixar that truly defined the decade. The studio released classic after classic, and Finding Nemo remains one of its most beloved. The timeless story of the clownfish Marlin search for his lost son nemo–with the help of Dory, of course–appealed to both kids and parents, and the mix of laughs and emotional drama is as perfectly balanced as anything in the Pixar filmography.
6. The Incredibles (2004)
Several years before Marvel kicked off the Disney’s reign as superhero box office kings, Pixar delivered this hugely entertaining comic book adventure. Iron Giant director Brad Bird pitched the studio his idea of a family of superheroes, and he became Pixar’s first outside writer/director, bringing a real sense cinematic style that makes it the equal of any live-action superhero yarn. The outstanding cast (inciding Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, and Samuel L. Jackson) truly bring the Incredible family to life, and the movie works as both a heartfelt family comedy and awe-inspiring superhero adventure.
7. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The 2000s was the decade of the Star Wars prequel. It would be fair to say that none are remembered fondly, but all have something to recommend, and that’s especially true Revenge of the Sith. The third prequel saw the culmination of the Anakin/Obi-Wan story and the final confrontation between the Jedi Master and his errant pupil–under the manipulation of Darth Sidious–still packs an emotional punch. Sure, there’s there’s lots of bad dialogue and dodgy acting, but Revenge of the Sith remains an important film for setting up the mythology of the Original Trilogy.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The huge success of both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter made it inevitable that CS Lewis’s Narnia series would also get new adaptations. This lavish, star-studded version of the classic first Narnia book had an adult cast that included Liam Neson as the great lion Aslan and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, plus James McAvoy and Ray Winstone. Like Rings and Potter, it’s a film that works well for both adults and kids and was followed by two sequels–Prince Caspan (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), the first of which are on Disney+.
9. High School Musical (2006)
High School Musical’s popularity continues to this day, with a new spin-off mockumentary show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series now available on Disney+. Fans coming to the franchise via the new show can check out the original and its sequels on the service too. The first High School Musical was a phenomenon; at the time, it was the most watched Disney Channel original movie ever, and the soundtrack album still stands as the best-selling TV soundtrack of all time. It also made stars of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, who sing and dance their way through 98 predictable but totally charming minutes.
10. Wall-E (2008)
Another instant Pixar classic, Wall-E tells the story of a lonely robot on a dystopian Earth. He has been left to clean up the garbage after the last person has left, and falls in love with a visiting robot called EVE. The stunning first 30 minutes unfold wordlessly, and the movie works as a brilliant thought-provoking sci-fi movie as well as a captivating family movie. Visually, it was a big leap forward for Pixar too, with director Andrew Stanton and his team replicating the widescreen 70mm look of classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.
11. Iron Man (2008)
It’s weird to think that there was a time not that long ago when the initials “MCU” were meaningless and Robert Downey Jr was a supporting actor better known for his troubled personal life than his movies. Back in 2008, Iron Man was produced as an independent movie and distributed by Paramount–Disney didn’t buy Marvel Studios until the following year–and the idea of a connected universe of superhero films was in its infancy. Nevertheless, Jon Favreau’s movie kicked if all off in hugely impressive style, proving that Downey Jr could absolutely deliver as a leading man, and laying a template that would see the Marvel Cinematic Universe become the most successful movie franchise in history.
12. Avatar (2009)
It took nearly a decade for James Cameron’s groundbreaking sci-fi epic to be finally unseated as the most successful movie of all time (by Avengers Endgame), and thanks to this year’s deal between Disney and Fox, it can now be watched on Disney+. Even without the pioneering 3D effects, it’s still an astonishing visual treat. With Cameron’s first Avatar sequel due in 2021, there’s no better time to head back to Pandora for the original film.
13. Up (2009)
Up is both one of the most emotional movies Pixar has ever made, and one of the funniest. The fantastical storyline–an elderly man ties thousands of balloons to his house in order to fulfill a promise he made to his dead wife to see the world–leads to a series of wild and exciting adventures. It has much to stay about aging and making the most of our time, and it’s a mark of Pixar’s genius that an old man can just as captivating a leading character as a robot, a rat, or a fish.
Source: Game Spot Mashup