20 Essential Films You Can Stream Right Now on Disney+

The best movies showing in the UK on Disney's brand new streaming service, from established classics to hidden gems...

Arriving after what feels like an age behind most of the world, Disney+ – the Walt Disney Company's exclusive, long awaited streaming service – has finally hit UK shores. Alongside tons of nostalgic content and TV shows both old and new, an entire library of Disney-owned films has been made available to the streaming public. And boy is there a lot of stuff to comb through.

From Marvel to Star Wars, to those lesser known movies you might not have realised Disney hold the rights to (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone?), here's our pick of 20 essential film to get you started when you inevitably sign up…

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Start as you mean to go on. Walt Disney's Snow White and Seven Dwarfs – remarkably, close to almost a hundred years old – has retained all its charm. This is where Disney got its start, of course, the first feature length animated film ever. Every new subscription to Disney+ would ideally start here (but it's going to start with Saturday morning cartoons, isn't it?).

 

The Sound of Music

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An unexpected addition, perhaps, but this Roger and Hammerstein classic is now Disney's own, thanks to their recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox. As though designed in a lab as the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon watch, it stars Julie Andrews as a mischievous nun who winds up teaching a family of rich kids to sing whilst sticking it to the Nazis.

 

Star Wars: A New Hope

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The original and perhaps the best entry in the saga, in which George Lucas first introduced us to everybody's favourite galaxy far, far away. Empire is often considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie, but there's something brilliant in the relative simplicity of Luke Skywalker's quest to save Princess Leia and blow up the Death Star.

 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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Everybody's favourite Star Wars movie, and for good reason: every scene – Hoth! Dagobah! Cloud City! – is memorable, vivid, and perfectly emphasised by John Williams' flawless score. And of course, this is the film that blew minds with arguably the best twist in cinema history, whilst also introducing us to Yoda and somehow making Harrison Ford cooler than he was in the original. Yeah: good movie.

 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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This half live-action, half animated fever dream – directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Bob Hoskins as a P.I trying to solve a murder  – did the seemingly impossible back in 1988, uniting cartoon characters owned by  Warner Bros. alongside those of the Walt Disney Company. It's like Mary Poppins on acid.

 

Willow

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People don't talk much about Willow these days, but you know what? People should be talking about Willow. Ron Howard directs this fantasy-adventure starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, based on a story by George Lucas. It's rough around the edges, but big in spirit, with lots of very creative set pieces. Also it has dogs dressed up and made to look like pig monsters. Cinema!

 

Beauty and the Beast

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This tale as old as time is often viewed as the greatest film amongst those in Disney's 90s renaissance, and – ahem – “it's not very hard to see why.” Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin's Broadway-style songs are ingrained in the popular culture at large, but everything here is sensational, from the supporting voice cast to that much parodied – and still impressive! – swooping chandelier shot.

 

Aladdin

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Is it just us or is this definitely Disney's funniest film? No? Good. Robin Williams provides the voice for the shapeshifting marvel that is the Genie in this pop culture-addled take on the classic “Arabian Nights” tale, bringing his wild, improvisational genius to every second. The animation pops; the songs are unforgettable; Jafar is a delicious villain with a fantastic little beard.

 

The Lion King

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Originally intended as the “B-side” to Disney's Pocahontas, The Lion King surpassed all expectations upon release and is now (rightly) considered to be one of Disney's best films. It's almost thirty years old and yet its presence and influence hasn't diminished at all. Put it down to those unforgettable songs (thanks, Elton John) and the gorgeous animation. Skip the remake.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire

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Another Robin Williams essential, and perhaps his greatest live-action comedy role, Mrs. Doubtfire tells the story of a father who dresses up as, uh, a Scottish nanny as a way of spend more time with his kids following a divorce. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll question the admittedly disturbing set-up.

 

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas

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It might say Tim Burton in the title, but this brilliant stop-motion caper was actually directed by Henry Selick, who went on to have success with James and the Giant Peach and Coraline. It tells the story of one Jack Skellington, a resident of Halloween Town who finds himself drawn to the festive delights of Christmas Town. The song “What's This?” is an all-time banger.

The Parent Trap (1998)

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Writer-director Nancy Meyers, who would go on to make lots of films featuring excellent kitchens, made her name with this remake of the 1961 classic. Lindsay Lohan stars opposite herself as twins who hatch a scheme to get their divorced parents back together. The film is a blast, and features great performances from Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson.

 

Toy Story 2

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Unquestionably the best of the Toy Story movies, and a film whose reputation has only grown over the years. Everything about this one improves on the original (in itself a perfect object), as Buzz and the gang set out to rescue Woody from a thieving toy collector. This is how you make a sequel: bigger, yes, but with more emotional heft.

 

The Incredibles

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Brad Bird's immensely clever deconstruction of the superhero genre might not just be Pixar's best film, it might be the definitive superhero movie, too. Everything here just sings, from the voice performances (Holly Hunter!) to the heart-stopping set-pieces. The sequel didn't quite live up to expectations. Then again, how can you compete with perfection?

 

Iron Man

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The film that started it all, Iron Man gave rise to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and changed the face of cinema forever. But this blockbuster was considered a risky venture at the time, not only due to the casting of Robert Downey Jr., but because Marvel had everything riding on its box office success. Is this twelve years old already?

 

Wall-E

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This charming and very touching Pixar film tells the story of the titular robot, WALL-E, who has spent a hundred years alone on Earth after the entire population abandoned the planet for space. Aside from being visually stunning, invention and very romantic, WALL-E also has a lot to say about where our species might be headed. Hint: exercise more.

 

Avatar

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Mock its use of the “Papyrus” font (since updated), its cardboard characters, and its general lack of cultural footprint, but Avatar still stands as an immensely impressive and visually stunning achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. Since the Fox merger, this is Disney's baby; now's the time to stream the original  (more than a decade old!) before James Cameron unleashes its many, belated sequels.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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The MCU arguably reached its peak with this insanely choreographed and perfectly paced entry in the Captain America series – the film that sold pretty much everyone on Chris Evans' casting as the titular character. Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson round out the cast, as super soldier Steve Rogers tries to prevent a global apocalypse (surprise, surprise).

 

The Jungle Book (2017)

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Disney's relentless drive to remake all of its most iconic animated films has produced mixed results so far, but the studio's reimagining of 1967's The Jungle Book is actually rather inspired. Bill Murray voices loveable, laid back bear Baloo, who takes young human Mowgli under his wing and teaches him the ways of the wild. Bill Murray as Baloo… need we say more?

 

Avengers: Endgame

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What seemed like an impossible task (bringing the MCU to a “close”) was made to look easy in this relentlessly enjoyable and self-referential culmination of the then 22 Marvel films to date. Funny, thrilling, and sad in equal measure, Endgame basically set a new bar for the superhero film (and put the finale of Game of Thrones to shame). It'll be hard to top.

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