Disney+ has been a delightfully warm welcome to the ever-growing world of streaming. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been spending your holidays swept up in The Mandalorian Baby Yoda phenomenon and unironically getting too invested into High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (I’ve been practising Gabriella’s high part in Breaking Free since 2006). In all the commotion of Original television, it’s easy to overlook the extensive movie library that’s on Disney+. But with a new decade comes time to get properly acquainted. Hit the links below to go straight to the movies that should pique your interest.
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- High School Musical 2
- The Parent Trap
- Avengers: Endgame
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Toy Story
10 Things I Hate About You
“I know you can be underwhelmed, and you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be, like, whelmed?” “I think you can be in Europe.” Who knew an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew would turn into one of the biggest hits of the 90s and remain iconic to this day? It’s hard to put into words just how impactful this movie is to basically every female in the world – introduction to Heath Ledger, the rise of the feminist heroine Kat who perfectly engulfed the riot grrrl era we so desperately needed, as well as a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
10 Things I Hate About You is a teenage romance comedy, but it also so much more. The movie follows Gordon-Levitt as Cameron, the new student at Padua High School who quickly becomes infatuated with Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). However, Bianca’s overprotected father won’t allow her to date, at least until her shrewish older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) dates, who has no interest in the matter. Cameron teams up with another one of Bianca’s potential suitors to set up Kat with Patrick Verona (Ledger), the school’s bad boy who may be the only kid in the school to win Kat’s heart. Add in a soundtrack full of 90s tunes, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a movie night.
There is nothing you can say to me that will convince me that the Cars franchise isn’t the greatest animated series ever created. I’m sorry, it just is. (Cars 3 as an adult was one of the most emotional experiences of my life). If you’re unfamiliar or a bit fuzzy with the details, start at the first Cars, and work your way through (all three are available for streaming on Disney +). The first movie follows hotshot rookie car Lighting McQueen who is “faster than fast, quicker than quick” (nothing wrong with a bit of confidence) and determined to win the Piston Cup Championship in California to prove himself against the seasoned pros.
On his way to the race, McQueen’s big rig, Mack, falls asleep and as a result McQueen falls out, damaging a road in the sleepy town of Radiator Springs. As punishment, he is forced to fix the road before he can leave for the Cup – but his unwanted pit stop turns into a life lesson about the true meaning of family, love and friendship.
High School Musical: 2
All three HSM’s are available on Disney+, but there’s just something special about the second of the three films. It’s summer! School is out! They’re at the country club! Everyone is singing and dancing with pots and pans! Troy and his little basketball buddies are all carefree and loving life, working on their jump shot, finding love, and making burgers for $12 an hour. What more could you want (or expect) from a high school summer break? But as the summer progresses, relations are strained as Sharpay takes advantage of her parents’ wealth to manipulate Troy and tear him away from Chad and his one true love Gabriella. Troy must decide between his college future or remaining loyal to his Wildcats, and we can assure you it’s a bumpy ride. But at the end of the day, it’s Troy and Gabriella’s Hot Girl Summer, and I’m loving every crazed golf-course-prancing moment.
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The Parent Trap
#Justice4Meredith has been a popular trend as fans of iconic The Parent Trap re-watch the movie and begin to realise that the ‘villain’ was really just a 26-year-old boss business woman setting herself up for a fantastic life. That aside, it’s also one of the most watchable movies of all time. The Parent Trap stars Lindsay Lohan as Hallie and Annie, identical twins who were separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents – laidback Hallie lives in California with her Dad Nick (Dennis Quaid) and uptight and posh Annie lives in London with her mother Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson).
When the parents accidentally send both the girls to the same summer camp, they eventually uncover the truth and decide to swap lives in order to meet the parent they’ve never known. The twins hatch a plan to bring their parents back together so they can be a family, but they didn’t account for Meredith, the young and beautiful woman who is head of PR for Nick’s vineyard – who he also just happens to be engaged to.
Lee Unkrich (Toy Story, Monsters Inc., A Bug’s Life) created history with his Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ inspired animation movie Coco. Not only did it win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2017 and become the 15th highest-grossing animated film of all time, it was the first film with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino principal cast and received roaring praise for its respect for Mexican culture.
The story follows 12-year-old Miguel who, despite his family’s mysterious ancestral ban of music, dreams of becoming a musician just like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. A mistake on the sacred ‘Day of the Dead’ by Miguel sees him teleported to the Land of the Dead, where he meets the deceased Hector, who promises to help him find Ernesto and discover the real reason behind his family’s secret ban on music. I simply cannot reveal any more if you want to be shocked and surprised alongside Miguel as he uncovers secret after secret.
No matter how many times you’ve seen the spectacular finale to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tell me that your eyes didn’t well up at least a little bit when (in arguably the greatest scene in history) Steve Rogers successfully wielded Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, in the final battle scene (the time for being offended by spoilers is long gone). I saw this movie three times in the cinema, and yet, every time I gasped in surprise and then burst into tears. That alone should be reason enough for a re-watch (or, dare I say it, a first time viewing?).
If it’s not, how about this; Robert Downey Jr., the Chris’s and all the others are all in fine form as the Avengers battle out their greatest enemy Thanos, who successfully wiped out exactly half of the entire population five years prior. Basically, they’re back for revenge. There’s a lot of time travel, a lot of Chris Evans looking hot, and a lot of fighting. Oh, it’s also officially the highest grossing movie of all time.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney + is home to every Star Wars movie. So, when I say The Force Awakens is the best, I actually mean literally every film ever made in the franchise which, quite frankly, is far too long to list in this article — but never too long to binge. The Force Awakens (2015) is one of the more recent full length feature films available for streaming. (The Rise of Skywalker is expected to arrive after its current theatrical run.)
Set three decades after the defeat of Darth Vader and the ‘Empire’, a scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and ex-stormtrooper for the First Order, Finn (John Boyega), are forced to work together and with the Resistance to search for the long-lost Luke Skywalker. Considering there was 10 years between The Force Awakens and the last Star Wars release (Revenge of the Sith back in 2005), it’s always good to be back in a universe far, far away.
This adorable yet eye-opening movie about consumerism, corporatism and waste management seems to be tragically becoming more and more relevant every day. At its time of release in 2008, WALL-E became an instant success for Pixar, winning the 2008 Golden Globe and 2009 Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature. It is highly regarded by critics and fans alike as the best film of 2008 – which it may very well be.
The film follows a robot Waste Allocation Load Lifter (Earth Class), better known as WALL-E, as he is left on the inhabitable Earth to clean up the garbage left behind by humans. His life is routine, but he dreams of a little company. In comes a robot called EVE (an Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) who literally flies into his life (and his heart). It’s very sweet, but it’s also very scary.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly and some freaky pirate stuff? Sign. Us. Up. What was originally anticipated as a flop (the film was based off a theme park, so fair enough) has gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon, boasting billions of dollars at the box office, sequel after sequel and catapulting leading man Depp back into celebrity stardom.
The Curse of the Black Pearl was the one to kick things off, and is arguably one of the best. It follows the quest of the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and resourceful young blacksmith William Turner (Bloom) as they team up to search and save William’s love, the Governor’s daughter Elizabeth (Knightly) who has been captured by Captain Barbossa. Little do they know, Barbossa and his crew have been cursed – and only a blood sacrifice can break the spell. But who’s blood?
It would be inhumane not to include Toy Story (and that automatically includes 2, 3 and 4) in this list. Taking place in a world where toys come alive when humans aren’t around to witness, Toy Story follows the life of old-fashioned 1950’s pull-string toy Woody (Tom Hanks) and brand spanking new astronaut figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) as they fight against each other to win the heart of their owner, Andy.
However, when the toys are separated from Andy, and in the evil clutches of the unstable neighbour Sid Phillips, Buzz and Woody need to put aside their rivalry to find their way back to Andy’s house before the family packs up and leaves without them both. You wouldn’t expect it, but the entire franchise is a tear-jerker.
What movie should I watch on Disney+?
While there are plenty of movies to binge on Disney+, these 10 are some of the best (in my opinion) films currently available. But with a mix of Disney animated originals, live action remakes, as well as juggernaut franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, your next movie night is sorted no matter what you fancy.
Photo credit: Disney Australia