The 20 Best Movies on Disney+ Canada
From treasured classics to modern masterpieces, here are our favourite movies from the Disney+ vault.
The Princess Bride
No movie is perhaps more universally beloved than the 1987 fantasy-comedy-romance The Princess Bride. In a story read by a grandfather to his sick grandson, a courageous farmhand in the kingdom of Florin fights to rescue his dearest love from a selfish prince, encountering silly and endearing characters on his quest. At once self-aware and sincere, The Princess Bride is a joyful and hilarious ode to storytelling and love between friends, family and significant others. The Princess Bride is incredibly quotable, packed with action and laughs, and is just unforgettable, plain and simple.
None of the 28 (and counting) movies released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been as remarkable a cultural milestone as Black Panther. It follows T’Challa as he assumes the throne of the technological advanced yet self-isolating African nation Wakanda and struggles to decide his country’s future while facing an unexpected usurper. Black Panther enraptured audiences with its vision of an Africa untouched by racist colonialism, and delivered a powerful story about family, responsibility and privilege. As T’Challa, the late Chadwick Boseman gave a gracious performance—grounding friendship and empathy as heroic qualities anyone can aspire to.
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Disney+ features the company’s entire animated library, from its early near-100 year old shorts to its most recent release Encanto. Among all the Disney classics, 1959’s Sleeping Beauty is an essential revisit. Disney elevates this fairy tale into an epic full of romance, adventure, music and fantasy. Good fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather protect Princess Aurora from the evil Maleficent, who’s cursed Aurora into a deep sleep should she prick her finger on a spinning wheel. It’s a sweeping story majestically animated in a Medieval art style and scored by lovely arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet.
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In this 1987 flick, Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a workaholic TV news producer who struggles to make time for her feelings as she’s torn between two men. There’s Tom (William Hurt), a handsome and inexperienced anchor, and Jane’s smart yet neurotic colleague Aaron (Albert Brooks). Broadcast News is a witty and passionate rom-com that captures the duelling tension between love and labour against the frenetic backdrop of a newsroom. If work has so taken over your life it barely feels like you’re living, Broadcast News and Hunter’s cathartic breakdowns are for you.
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
This is the second and best entry in a dynamic trilogy that reboots and provides an origin story for the 1968 sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes. Set 10 years after a global pandemic has killed much of the human population, the chimpanzee Caesar leads a community of free and intelligent apes in a colony near San Francisco. When the apes encounter a group of desperate human survivors, Caesar tries to maintain peace as war threatens to break out between the two species. Directed by Matt Reeves (The Batman), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a visceral action flick filled with political drama worthy of Shakespeare and astoundingly realistic CGI apes.
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In the hilarious and heartfelt Turning Red, Mei—a 13 year-old Chinese-Canadian girl—inherits a family curse where she transforms into a giant red panda when she experiences any strong emotions. Chinese-Canadian director Domee Shi gives an intimate authenticity to Mei, her delightful friend group and her overprotective mother, delivering a movie that’s unapologetically feminine and a total delight in its cartoony animation style. Everyone should find something to relate to in Turning Red, whether it’s the cringe-inducing yet cathartic depiction of puberty or its tearjerker moments of friendship and reconciliation. That and Turning Red is set in Toronto!
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The Grand Budapest Hotel
Disney+ features the near complete filmography of Wes Anderson. His most acclaimed, 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, is set a prestigious European hotel in the 1930s. A lowly lobby boy is swept into a criminal conspiracy involving murder and a stolen painting, and must help clear the name of his mentor, the hotel’s debonair concierge. Featuring a sensational ensemble cast led by Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a lovely, decorous and hilarious comedy that amazes with its crude wit, heartfelt story and extravagant sets and costumes.
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A delightful musical-comedy-romance that pokes fun at dated fairytale cliches, Enchanted stars the magical Amy Adams as the animated Gisille, who upon engagement to a prince she just met, is exiled to New York City by his power hungry stepmother and forced to live in the real world. Adams stuns as this idealistic lovey-dovey princess, embodying Gisille’s naive character with zero cynical irony and making Enchanted an equal parts hilarious and loving parody of fairytale romance.
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Few movies provoke and amuse as brutally and ingeniously as 2018’s The Favourite. A black comedy set in the eighteenth century English court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), it follows ladies-in-waiting Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) as they vey for the depressed and sickly queen’s favour. The Favourite twists-and-turns through clever manipulations, making a mockery of authoritarianism while sympathising with these women struggling to survive and rest in this ruthless time period.
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It’s hard to pick a favourite among Pixar’s many great movies. In any circumstance, 2003’s Finding Nemo is the sturdiest and happiest bet. Overprotective clownfish father Marlin searches for his missing son Nemo alongside Dory, a blue tang with short-term memory loss. The unlikely duo travel through the great blue sea, encountering all manner of dangerous and comical obstacles. Finding Nemo has something for everyone. It’s an adventurous, heartfelt movie with gorgeous underwater animation, fantastic voice work from Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres, and a comforting moral on overcoming anxiety and embracing life.
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Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
“April, 1805. Napoleon is master of Europe. Only the British fleet stands before him. Oceans are now battlefields.” So begins Master and Commander: The Far Side of World, an epic naval war drama adapted from Patrick O’Brian’s series of novels. The 2003 movie follows the crew of the HMS Surprise as they hunt a superior French vessel in an exciting and dangerous cat-and-mouse chase. Journeying over vast stretches of ocean, Master and Commander occupies itself with its immersive historical detail, riveting suspense, and its large cast of engaging characters headed by daring Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe).
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A gay twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this 2022 movie follows a group of gay men as they vacation on New York State’s queer sea-side paradise, Fire Island. Their attitudes toward sex and romance are challenged as they flock from risqué parties to charming meet-cutes. Fire Island is a sharp and delightful rom-com, full of funny zingers courtesy of writer and star Kim Joel Booster. It’s buoyed by a likeable cast of characters (including comedian Margaret Cho as the men’s den mother), and smart observations on race, class and identity worthy of Jane Austen’s sneaky social critiques.
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Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)
Of the many Cinderella adaptations, this 1997 made-for-television musical, a remake of the 1957 version, is the most unique and inspiring. It’s the same classic Cinderella story, except here there’s a progressive colour-blind cast, with singer Brandy as the first Black actress to play Cinderella. Brandy receives excellent support from the iconic Whitney Houston, Broadway’s Bernadette Peters, and Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, all singing captivating songs from musical legends Rodger and Hammerstein in bright, sumptuous costumes. This Cinderella is a treasure worth seeing.
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Little Miss Sunshine
In this acclaimed tragicomedy, the quirky Hoover family goes on a 1,200-kilometre journey to get youngest child Olive to a beauty pageant. Along the way, each family member’s hopes and dreams are challenged. Little Miss Sunshine gets that familial love is born from hard won and often ridiculous resilience. The cast alone makes Little Miss Sunshine a must-see, with great performances from Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinear, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano and a young Abigail Breslin.
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Ownership disagreements between Disney and Sony Pictures Entertainment have kept Spider-Man off Disney+ until quite recently, when the director Sam Raimi’s trilogy made its Disney+ debut. Spider-Man 2 is not only the best of the trilogy, it’s one of the best superhero movies ever. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggles to manage his personal life with his duties as Spider-Man, and risks losing his powers as the maniacal Doctor Octopus threatens New York City. The movie amazes with its astounding action sequences and heart-breaking moments of personal drama—depicting the stresses of adult life and all its sacrifices.
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Photo: 20th Century Studios / Amblin
West Side Story (2021)
All-time great filmmaker Steven Spielberg directed this must-watch adaptation of the classic star-crossed musical West Side Story. Set in 1957 New York City, two teen street gangs—the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks—battle for control of the neighbourhood as two people from each respective side fall in love. This new West Side Story grounds the musical in the harsh social context of gentrification, inequality and race, making the aspirational love story all the more tragic and resonant to modern viewers.
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Say Anything… is best remembered for the moment John Cusack, as average student Lloyd Dobler, serenades his sweetheart with a boombox over his head. But there’s much more to see in this 1980s teen romcom. Dobler harbours a crush on class valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye). The two begin a romance that pits Lloyd against Diane’s strict father (John Mahoney) and her promising future. Few movies so authentically channel teenage confusion, anxiety and pleasure when it comes to first love.
One of the many high points of Keanu Reeves’s acting career, Speed is also a glorious action movie. Police officer Jack Traven (Reeves) boards a bus that’s rigged to explode if it goes below 50 miles per hour. What follows is a thrilling work of constant momentum, loaded with exciting stunts and a charming cast of passengers desperate to survive. Co-star Sandra Bullock is especially terrific as an idle passenger turned bus driver, while Reeves impresses with his cool star power.
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Across the MCU’s mounting and increasingly convoluted lore, Thor: Ragnarok stands out as a light-hearted entry point. The God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) must escape imprisonment so he can save his home, Asgard, from the rule of his vengeful sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and a prophesied apocalypse. Thanks to director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Jojo Rabbit), the movie has a goofy comic edge that’s fun and brings the best out of performers like Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffulo and Jeff Goldblum.
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Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Set in a Hollywood where cartoons and people coexist, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? follows hardboiled detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) as he works to exonerate cartoon clown Roger Rabbit from accusations of murder. In the 30-plus years since its release, Roger Rabbit’s seamless mix of animation and live action still impresses. The visual spectacle feels almost decadent in its detail—and includes show-stopping cameos from Bugs Bunny to Mickey Mouse.
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