Pixar logo

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: in the wake of the allegations against John Lasseter, where does Pixar go from here?)

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about Brenda Chapman.

Maybe you don’t know Brenda Chapman’s name, but you’re probably familiar with her work. She’s a career animator and filmmaker, having started out at Walt Disney Animation Studios in the late 1980s on The Little Mermaid, before moving up the ranks to become the head of story on The Lion King, and then jumping over to the fledgling DreamWorks Animation to co-direct The Prince of Egypt. Chapman’s biggest success should have been when she moved to Pixar Animation Studios to direct a film inspired by her relationship with her daughter, an emotional adventure set in the Scottish Highlands about a rebellious redheaded teenager and her prim and proper mother.

That movie, of course, is Brave, the 2012 Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature. While Chapman got a moment of triumph there, giving an acceptance speech next to director Mark Andrews, she’d been replaced in 2010 on the project. We can chalk that up to those fabled “creative differences.” Not everyone who’s replaced as a director on a film at Pixar leaves the company (see Bob Peterson and The Good Dinosaur), but only a few months after she won the Oscar, when asked if she could ever imagine returning to Pixar, Chapman said the following: “That door is closed. I made the right decision to leave and firmly closed that door. I have no desire to go back there. The atmosphere and the leadership doesn’t fit well with me.”

So, among the many feelings and thoughts that ran through my mind after I read story after story of allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against John Lasseter, the current head of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, I kept thinking about Brenda Chapman.

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Coco Poster

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: the final part in a series ranking all 368 songs featured in Disney animated films.)

Welcome to the third and final part of this series, where I set out to rank every single song to appear in an animated (or animation/live-action hybrid) film released by Disney. It’s been a long, exhausting trip and you can read Part One and Part Two if you want the whole picture. Today, we’re taking on the top 100 best Disney songs. Let’s dive in.

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Pixar's Coco Photo

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: the second part in a series ranking all 368 songs featured in Disney animated films.)

Yesterday, I began ranking all 368 songs from Disney animated movies. Today, the mission continues with part two of this enormous (insane?) mission. You can catch up with part one oat the link above. Part three will arrive tomorrow, coinciding with the release of the music-centric Coco.

A reminder that this list contains songs from every Walt Disney Animation Studios filmevery Pixar Animation Studios film, and every live-action/animation hybrid.

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coco trailer

When Pixar Animation Studios released its first film in 1995, it felt groundbreaking. Toy Story proved that computer animation could serve as the foundation for a feature film, but it also proved that animated films did not all need to follow the storytelling template of classical Disney animated films such as Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

More than 20 years later, Pixar has become less of a disruptor and more of a standard-bearer. Some of their later original films, from WALL-E to Inside Out, are able to marry unique concepts and worlds, while others — like 2015’s The Good Dinosaur — struggle to move beyond technologically innovative designs. This week, Pixar is releasing Coco, its second film of 2017, and its first original film in a couple years. While Coco is not the studio’s most creatively daring film, the fact that it’s a charming and gorgeously realized story is, in its own way, enormously relieving.

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Coco Songs

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: the first in a series ranking all 368 songs featured in Disney animated films.)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I am clearly insane. Why else would I feel compelled to rank every song from every animated feature from the Walt Disney Company? So yes, this list will feature songs from every Walt Disney Animation Studios film, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Moana; every Pixar Animation Studios film, from Toy Story to their latest release, Coco; and even films like The Nightmare Before Christmas as well as the company’s live-action/animation hybrids, such as Mary Poppins and Enchanted. That makes up 368 songs. 368. Songs. Like I said: I’m insane.

And yet: this was a wonderful and exhausting list to compile. I have no doubt that you will disagree with my rankings. How could you not? We all share such unique likes and dislikes that there’s no way we can all agree on the very best or very worst Disney song, let alone all of those in between. What I hope is that people read the list and don’t tear out their hair too much. So now, please: read the list. You know you want to. Part 2 and Part 3 of this list will arrive over the next two days.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

daisy ridley murder on the orient express

This year’s holiday movie season brings us arguably the most widely anticipated blockbuster of the entirety of 2017: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the massively popular revival of the Star Wars franchise in 2015, The Force Awakens, is still five weeks away from release, and is all but guaranteed to be a similarly massive, critic-proof hit. However, this weekend offers a glimpse into a possible future for one of the new stars of The Last Jedi, Daisy Ridley.

Ridley, a relative unknown before being cast as Rey in The Force Awakens, has her first non-Star Wars movie in wide release this weekend, as one part of the vast ensemble of Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express. By the very nature of the Agatha Christie detective story that inspired Branagh’s film (as well as the Sidney Lumet-directed adaptation from 1974), Ridley is not stepping fully into the spotlight here. She plays one of a handful of suspects of a vicious killing on an upscale intercontinental train, as a forthright governess with — of course — a secret past. So this is not the equivalent of Hayden Christensen taking a break from playing the petulant teenage version of Anakin Skywalker by starring in the true-story drama Shattered Glass. But it might work toward Ridley’s benefit to gradually break away from Star Wars, expanding her talents as opposed to diving in headfirst to radically different roles.

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Disney Needs to Chill Out Right Now

Disney L.A. Times ban

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: between trying to buy 20th Century Fox and blacklisting the L.A. Times, Disney needs to chill the eff out.)

Update: Amid growing backlash, Disney has lifted their ban against L.A. Times film critics.

What a wonderful time it is to cover the film industry. The last couple months — has it really only been that long? — has been dominated (justifiably) by the flood of accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Harry Knowles, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and Kevin Spacey, among many others. But the last few days have offered a brief, if no less troubling, shift in the story, as the Walt Disney Company has been pushing its power around with little regard for who ends up in its wake. Earlier this week, there were shocking rumors regarding the company engaging in talks with 21st Century Fox to buy most of its studio product. More vexing, if more inside-baseball, was Disney’s choice to bar the Los Angeles Times from attending its press screenings.

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Thor: Ragnarok review

Nearly a decade ago, Marvel’s first entry in their burgeoning Cinematic Universe, Iron Man, proved so successful as to influence and inspire plenty of other studios and filmmakers to build out extended-universe franchises. Now, it’s hard to imagine a more influential Marvel movie than Guardians of the Galaxy, the gleefully anarchic, candy-colored 2014 film that stood apart from the machinations of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and the rest of the Avengers. Its rousing success has bled through to the Avengers themselves, starting with the previously pompous Thor in his third dedicated film, Thor: Ragnarok, which is maybe the goofiest, silliest Marvel movie to date.

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Adam Sandler is a Good Actor…But Does He Know That?

Adam Sandler is a Good Actor...But Does He Know That?

Last week, amidst its various ’80s-TV revivals, animated shows, and comedy specials, Netflix released yet another new original film. Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) depicts the slow-burn, middle-aged fracturing of a family whose patriarch (Dustin Hoffman) is both suffering from illness and still able to emotionally damage his three adult children. In the last few years, Baumbach has balanced between collaborating with Greta Gerwig on films like Frances Ha and Mistress America and making movies that focus on mid-40s angst and ennui. His leaning on a familiar trope is itself not surprising; what’s shocking is how The Meyerowitz Stories merges two of Netflix’s pet projects in one startling whole: indie cinema and Adam Sandler.

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the florida project

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: a look at Escape From Tomorrow and the newly released The Florida Project, both of which explore the peripheries of the Disney experience.)

The Disney theme parks are built upon a foundation of agreed-upon lies. We tell ourselves that we can afford a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth even if we should spend that money on more reasonable expenses, because we value our enjoyment or the enjoyment of our family members more than the strength of our bank accounts. We tell ourselves when we walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom that we’ve been transported into a world of fantasy and future, a land where our real-world problems don’t exist. We tell ourselves that the theme parks are a place where the Cast Members who operate the attractions, shows, and restaurants have no real-world problems — really, no outside lives — of their own. Each winding walkway, each touch of atmosphere, each architectural choice is, in its own special way, a lie. They are mostly beautiful lies, but lies nonetheless.

The beautiful lies of the Disney theme parks, and how those lies have an uglier ripple effect towards the periphery of the cities that house them, are part of the fuel behind two independent, tonally very different, films from the past few years: Randy Moore’s Escape from Tomorrow and Sean Baker’s The Florida Project. Each film deals with the specter of the Disney theme parks in its own way. Moore’s 2013 film built buzz because he and his cast had shot a majority of the Lynchian film inside the parks without Disney’s knowledge. Baker’s is focused on the fraying edges of the community that borders Walt Disney World. Despite being radically different, the directors each attempt to confront the parks and their impacts through these stories.

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