A Century of Film


The Studio

It began with a man named Walt and a mouse named Mickey.  But of course neither of those things is actually true and that’s part of the image that lies behind the company that is not only the most successful movie studio at work today but pretty much an all-encompassing way of life that can not be ignored.

First of all, the company was founded, essentially, in 1923 and while Walt signed the first contract, from the start, his brother Roy was helping him.  And if you know anything about film history, you know that this pre-dates the release of Steamboat Willie by a good five years.  Those five years involved animated Alice comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a feature Walt created to be distributed by Universal.  But Walt signed over the rights to Oswald to Universal and they brought in a less expensive team so Walt was suddenly left with nothing to show for it.  And then came the Mouse.

It’s not exaggeration to call Steamboat Willie the most important short animated film in film history and really only a few of the early Edison works and Melies shorts are as important outside of animation.  After all, not only was it the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, one of the most well-known characters in the world but it was also the first animated short to offer synchronized sound as well.  What’s more, of course, is what it would do for the fortunes of Disney and what that would mean in the long run.

“Capra induced Cohn to see Steamboat Willie, and Cohn was properly impressed.  Columbia released the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons for two years – until Disney discovered that salesmen were using his shorts as loss leaders in order to sell the company’s features.”  (King Cohn: The Life and Times of Harry Cohn, Bob Thomas, p 64).  That is what enabled Disney to keep going as a studio that was different than any other film studio in that it didn’t actually make feature-length films.

“By 1932 Disney was becoming, if not big business, then a major factor in his field.  In that year, seeking to improve on his soon-to-expire Columbia contract, he turned down an advance of $15,000 per short from Universal’s Carl Laemmle, who told Disney that he was making a grievous error in spending as much as he did on his films … Disney got the sort of deal he wanted from United Artists, which gave him 60 percent of the gross on each film. … Under this contract, which ran until 1937, Disney was obliged to turn out twenty shorts a year: they were the only nonfeature productions UA distributed.”  (The Disney Version, Richard Schickel, p 150).

“In bargaining to renew their distribution contract with United Artists [in 1936], the Disney brothers insisted that they must control the future television rights to their products – a remarkable piece of technological foresight, since most Hollywood independents were signing those rights away even after the new medium was well established.  Unable to secure them from UA, they turned to another studio, RKO Radio, and made the best deal they ever had.”  (Schickel, p 213-214).  This was vitally important in the company’s history because it meant that Snow White, which they were working on at the time, had to succeed or Disney would fail.  But, of course, while the studio invested a lot of money in Snow White, it paid off magnificently, making it the highest grossing film of 1938 (it was released at the end of 1937) and one of the highest grossing films ever to that point.  Suddenly, a movie studio was born.

Now, with the other posts in this series, I covered the studio histories through to 2011.  But I’m not going to do that with Disney for a variety of reasons.  First, Disney, for a long time didn’t function like other movie studios.  As you can see, for a long time it didn’t even distribute its own films.  And even after it did start doing that in 1954, it didn’t make a lot:

“In the spring of 1966 that amounted to 21 full-length animated features, 493 short subjects, 47 live-action features, 7 True-Life Adventure features, 330 hours of Mickey Mouse Clubs, 78 half-hour Zorro adventures and 280 filmed TV shows.  At a moment when many Hollywood studios were finding that the difference between profit and loss often came from the outright sale of their old films – that is, of its history, its very corporate self – this ability of Disney’s to prosper without peddling the inventory placed the studio in an enviable position.”  (Schickel, p 20-21)

So, in almost 30 years of feature-length filmmaking, Disney had produced just 68 films that I classify as films (feature-length non-documentary).  Several of the majors had exceeded that in single years back in the 30s.  By my own chart of films I have seen, Disney doesn’t pass 100 films until 1971 at which point it is in 14th place among all studios.  It takes until 1997 for Disney to move into the Top 10.  It just never made as many films as anybody else, at least until its peak stretch in the 90s.

Second, so much of what makes Disney Disney hasn’t been about the feature films.  Disney is first and foremost identified with Mickey (and Donald and Goofy) and he’s almost never in a feature film.  There were shirts, toys, books, comic strips, comic books, music and a lot of merchandise before there was a single feature film.  It’s Disneyland and television shows.  It’s an experience and a way of life.

IMG_2165Disney provided the Disneyland mug which my brother bought on our trip there in 1980 and which became mine in 1983 when he went off to college and which I keep even though I can’t use it anymore.  Disney provided the trash can with Mickey, Donald and Goofy that has been mine my entire life but was bought at our local Shop-Rite in Albany, New York (it still has the “paid” sticker on the bottom after over 40 years).  Disney is Veronica’s Pooh Matryoshka dolls or my Pooh figurines or Thomas’ Pooh bookends.  It’s Veronica’s Little Golden Books or my Disney books (especially those since they showcase almost all of their films up through publication) or Thomas’ Pixar books.  It’s the Fantasyland puzzle we own or the Lion King soundtrack or all of the Pixar merchandise Thomas has gotten through the years or his Muppets poster.  It’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Whole New World” but also “Whale of a Tale” and “Life’s a Happy Song”.

castle-familyAt times I have dreaded Disney (I remember Tavis and I writing “Avoid the Disneyfication of history!  Skip Pearl Harbor1983-Erik-Disneyland!” on the dry erase board at work) and at times it has given me some of the best memories of my life.  I pulled the sword out of the stone when I was nine years old and Merlin proclaimed that I was king for the day.  But this is also the studio that we had to threaten to sue because they basically stole the like of my grandparents’ house to make Honey I Shrunk the Kids on a studio lot.  But we took Thomas when he was 10 and it was one of the greatest days the three of us have ever had together.

So, instead, I will give a brief rundown of the various aspects of the Disney feature film history, broken down by the various ways in which they have been released.

The RKO Years

As noted above, Disney released their films through RKO starting in 1936 which also meant their feature films once Snow White came out at the end of 1937.  That continued through Peter Pan in 1953.  Those two films are the most notable as far as RKO was concerned because they were the biggest hits.  Snow White was, as late as 1949 listed among the Top 10 films of all-time at Variety (see Box Office at the bottom) and Peter Pan would have caught it had Snow White moved up with a 1953 re-release.  Still, at the time both were in the Top 20 all-time which only one other RKO film was.  So, while Disney only released 19 films during this period and RKO released 549 (that I’ve seen), Disney had two of the three biggest hits for RKO.  But it’s worth remembering while this era might have produced classics like Pinocchio, Bambi and Cinderella that are thought of today as big box office films, those are only that way because of later re-releases (which Disney did itself).  It wasn’t until re-releases in 1970 (Cinderella), 1971 (Pinocchio) and 1975 (Bambi) that those films started having significant enough rentals to appear higher on the Variety lists.  In later years, when Disney would push off video releases or release for a short time only to put something back in the vault it’s because having the limited availability really made people flock to the re-releases.  Snow White had significant re-releases in 1975, 1983 and 1987 that placed it among the more successful films of each year in spite of being decades old.

bvlogoBuena Vista

Finally, in 1953, Disney started distributing their own films.  The irony, in terms of this post, is that the film that prompted it isn’t even one I list: The Living Desert.  It’s a feature-length documentary that RKO didn’t want to distribute which made them look like fools because it was incredibly profitable and won the Oscar.  It was also a big deal for me as a child even though I didn’t see it until adulthood because as mentioned here I was obsessed with the part from it about the tarantula versus the tarantula hawk.  For the next 30 years, Buena Vista was the exclusive distributor of Disney films.  This is what most people think of when they think of Disney films: an animated feature every couple of years with ever increasing numbers of films aimed for the whole family with stars like Hayley Mills and Kurt Russell.  Films that did solid box office with the occasional breakout hit (Shaggy Dog, Absent-Minded Professor, Love Bug).  Harmless fun of variable quality (usually not bad but rarely great outside of the animated films and even those weren’t as good after Walt died).  When Disney started branching out with other things (see the next two sections), they still had the occasional big hit (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Santa Clause) and then the Pirates films really brought a bankroll to Buena Vista which had picked up anyway thanks to the Disney Renaissance, the period of critical and commercial hits that revived the animated division (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King) winning an array of Oscars and Globes.  Seeking to realign all their divisions, Buena Vista was phased out as a distribution arm in 2009.

Touchstone_Pictures_(1999)Touchstone Pictures

If you grew up in the 80s like I did you probably watched a lot of Touchstone films.  Touchstone (begun in 1984 as Touchstone Films and changed in 1986) was designed to be a branch of Disney to attract more teen fare.  The first film released was Splash.  It was a big success and by 1987, Three Men and a Baby became the first Disney film since Snow White to top the box office, followed by Good Morning Vietnam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  These were the first three Disney films to gross over $100 million in their initial releases.  Pretty Woman then passed them all and became (for a year and a half anyway) the highest grossing film ever released by Disney with a unique mixture of Disney concept (essentially someone becomes a princess) with a more adult theme (who was a whore).  But Touchstone had peaked and not known it.  For the remaining two decades that Touchstone existed (like BV it was phased out at the end of the 00s) only three films would outgross Pretty Woman: two Bruckheimer productions (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) and Signs.  But Touchstone would provide some prestige as well with the first acting Oscar for Disney since Mary Poppins (Paul Newman for The Color of Money) and just the second Best Picture nomination in the company’s history (Dead Poets Society), later adding another nomination (The Insider).

Hollywood_PicturesHollywood Pictures

If it’s the Sphinx, it stinks.  That was the mantra for Hollywood Pictures and it wasn’t far wrong.  As noted down below in the Statistics section, the average Hollywood film earns a 42 which is low **.  But they also were less at the box office ($26 million average as opposed to the $41 million for Touchstone over a similar period of time).  Hollywood Pictures was founded to release more genre fare for Disney.  It began in 1990 with Arachnophobia and was phased out like the other branches in the late 00s.  Only two Hollywood films crossed the $100 million mark in almost 20 years (as opposed to Touchstone which had two in its fourth year alone): The Rock and The Sixth Sense and less than a half dozen more even passed $60 million.  What’s more, over 1/3 of them didn’t even break $10 million (the number was closer to 80% for Touchstone).  Ironically, thanks to Quiz Show and The Sixth Sense, Hollywood had as many Best Picture nominations at the Oscars as Touchstone.

Walt Disney Pictures

I’ve skipped the logo since I used it at the top of the post.  In the late 00s, Disney phased out their various distribution labels and united them under one banner.  So now all of the films get released together.


Pixar, of course, isn’t an actual separate distribution label inside Disney.  The Pixar films have been released through Buena Vista and then Walt Disney Studios.  But Pixar deserves special notice because originally it wasn’t a division of Disney but rather a separate studio that was just distributing its films through Disney (the same way that Disney used to release films through RKO).  Pixar helped Disney really step things up at the same time that animated films were getting more critical attention (and awards being added by various groups) and box office (as pointed out here).  Aside from all of the awards, Pixar has been a massive box office boon.  Toy Story was just the fourth Disney film to top the box office.  In the first 16 years of Pixar, their films have had a massive box office average and during the same period only two of the 19 animated films made by Disney even reached the lowest Pixar film.  In seven of those years, the highest grossing Disney film of the year was a Pixar film.

Notable Disney Films

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (1937)  –  The film that began it all, the first feature-length animated film.
  • So Dear to My Heart  (1949)  –  First live-action Disney film
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea  (1954)  –  First feature film released through Buena Vista
  • Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier  (1955)  –  First film to form a conjunction between Disney’s film properties and its television properties
  • Mary Poppins  (1964)  –  First Disney film nominated for Best Picture; first Disney film to return rentals of over $20 million
  • Splash  (1984)  –  First film released by Touchstone Pictures
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills  (1986)  –  First R rated film released by Disney
  • Three Men and a Baby  (1987)  –  First Disney film to gross over $100 million in initial release; first Disney film to finish #1 at the box office since Variety began tracking in the late 40s
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp  (1990)  –  First Animated film released by Disney not part of their “official” Animated film list produced by Disney Animation; first Disneytoon film
  • Arachnophobia  (1990)  –  First film released by Hollywood Pictures
  • Beauty and the Beast  (1991)  –  First Animated film nominated for Best Picture
  • Aladdin  (1992)  –  First Disney film to gross over $200 million; second Disney film to top the box office
  • The Lion King  (1994)  –  First Disney film to gross over $300 million
  • Toy Story  (1995)  –  First Pixar release; third Disney film to top the box office
  • Spirited Away  (2002)  –  First Studio Ghibli film released by Disney; first Disney release to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film
  • The Invisible  (2007)  –  Last film released by Hollywood Pictures
  • I Am Number Four  (2011)  –  First DreamWorks film released by Disney

The Directors

Why is this section so short and consisting of only one director who is not actually all that good?  Because that’s how Disney has functioned.  Disney didn’t cultivate directors the way the other studios did.  Part of that was because they focused so much on animation for years and even Disney or Animated fans would be hard-pressed to find the directors who really belong here because of constantly shifting credits and because so much of it came down to Disney himself.  Part of it is that they didn’t pay much for directorial talent and even when they expanded in the 80s and 90s, it wasn’t to bring in directors.

Robert Stevenson

  • Films:  19
  • Years:  1957-1976
  • Average Film:  62.7
  • Best Film:  Mary Poppins
  • Worst Film:  The Shaggy D.A.

Stevenson stands out in multiple ways.  The first is that he was the longest-lasting director at Disney, both in terms of years (only Norman Takar at 16 years comes close) and in total films (Tokar with 15 and Vincent McEveety with 13 are the only others above 10 and their averages are also lower).  But, just as important, until 1989, Stevenson was the only director to ever earn an Oscar nomination for making a Disney film and directed the only Best Picture nominee.

Parent-Trap-1961-1068x639The Stars

Hayley Mills

Disney didn’t have an array of stars like other studios because it took until the 50s before they were even making live-action films.  Even then, they chose to develop young stars, some of whom turned out and many of whom didn’t.  While Kurt Russell would be the biggest Disney star to rise, it was Mills who showed the most talent while at Disney (it didn’t hurt that she had already made Tiger Bay before going to Disney).
Essential Viewing:  The Parent Trap, Pollyanna, That Darn Cat


Kids films.  Yes, Disney has done a lot more than that but Kids Films make up over 1/3 of their total output and there has long been the view that a Disney film is a Kids film and vice versa.  Also, Buena Vista, the main Disney distribution unit, is much more involved with Kids films (177 out of 277).  BV also did Comedy (28) and Adventure (22) but their Dramas (23) were often true sports stories (eight of them at least).  They did hit every genre at least once though (though sometimes only once like Crime, Mystery and War).
Among the other divisions, Hollywood had a majority of film as either Comedy (33 out of 83) or Drama (23).  Of the 20 films released through RKO, all were Kids (16) or Adventure (4).  Almost exactly half of the 196 Touchstone films are Comedies (97) with Drama covering almost half the rest (42).  Since dropping the divisions in 2007, Kids are again the majority (22 of 40).

Foreign Films

Not something that people generally think about it but Disney’s history with Foreign films actually goes all the way back to 1956, not long after Buena Vista was formed and Disney started releasing films on their own.  But it was fairly minimal with Yang Kwei Fei in 1956, The Story of Vickie in 1958 and Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At in 1969.  After that, there were a few films in the 90s and then most of what came since are Studio Ghibli films.


note:  see the bottom of the post  When you look there you will also realize why there is no “Notes on Films” section

The Best Disney Films by Decade

  • 1930s:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • 1940s:  Fantasia
  • 1950s:  Lady and the Tramp
  • 1960s:  Mary Poppins
  • 1970s:  The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh
  • 1980’s:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • 1990’s:  Beauty and the Beast
  • 2000’s:  Spirited Away
  • 2010’s:  Toy Story 3

The Best Disney Films by Genre

  • Action:  The Rock
  • Adventure:  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Comedy:  Ed Wood
  • Crime:  n/a
  • Drama:  Quiz Show
  • Fantasy:  Spirited Away
  • Horror:  The Sixth Sense
  • Kids:  Fantasia
  • Musical:  O Brother Where Art Thou
  • Mystery:  n/a
  • Sci-Fi:  n/a
  • Suspense:  n/a
  • War:  War Horse
  • Western:  Open Range

note:  Films listed with n/a mean that no Disney film in that genre met my threshold (***.5).

The Worst Disney Films by Decade

  • 1960s:  The Miracle of the White Stallions
  • 1970s:  The North Avenue Irregulars
  • 1980’s:  Can’t Buy Me Love
  • 1990’s:  An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn
  • 2000’s:  Sorority Boys
  • 2010’s:  I Am Number Four

note:  Disney didn’t release a bad film until the 60s.

The Worst Disney Films by Genre

  • Action:  A Low Down Dirty Shame
  • Adventure:  The Three Musketeers
  • Comedy:  An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn
  • Crime:  Disorganized Crime
  • Drama:  The Scarlet Letter
  • Fantasy:  Super Mario Bros.
  • Horror:  Primeval
  • Kids:  The Country Bears
  • Musical:  Newsies
  • Mystery:  A Stranger Among Us
  • Sci-Fi:  I Am Number Four
  • Suspense:  Color of Night
  • War:  Pearl Harbor
  • Western:  n/a

note:  Films listed with n/a mean that no Disney film in that genre met my threshold (** or below).

The Statistics

  • Total Films 1912-2011:  626  (9th)
  • Total Percentage of All Films, 1912-2011:  2.50%

Decade Totals:

  • 1930-1939:  1  (0.03%)  (57th)
  • 1940-1949:  12  (0.39%)  (16th)
  • 1950-1959:  29  (0.78%)  (17th)
  • 1960-1969:  51  (2.32%)  (14th)
  • 1970-1979:  49  (2.44%)  (13th)
  • 1980-1989:  64  (2.47%)  (23rd)
  • 1990-1999:  239  (7.60%)  (3rd)
  • 2000-2011:  181  (3.94%)  (3rd)

Biggest Years:

  • 1995:  33
  • 1994 / 1996:  28
  • 1993:  27
  • 1997:  24

Biggest Years by Percentage of All Films:

  • 1995:  10.58%
  • 1993:  9.18%
  • 1996:  8.54%
  • 1994:  8.00%
  • 1992:  7.89%

Best Year:

  • 1994:  2 Top 10, 3 Top 20
  • 2003:  2 Top 10, 3 Top 20

Average Film By Decade:

  • 1937-1939:  90.00
  • 1940-1949:  78.83
  • 1950-1959:  68.27
  • 1960-1969:  61.62
  • 1970-1979:  56.12
  • 1983-1989:  53.27
  • 1990-1999:  46.26
  • 2000-2011:  55.83
  • TOTAL:  53.42
  • TOTAL – RKO:  77.15
  • TOTAL – BV:  57.12
  • TOTAL – TS:  48.82
  • TOTAL – HW:  42.10
  • TOTAL – WDS:  62.35
  • TOTAL – DW:  58.20

Best Years for Average Film (min. 3 films):

  • 1955:  73.67
  • 1959:  68.33
  • 1964:  67.60

Worst Years for Average Film:

  • 2001:  42.29
  • 1994:  42.96
  • 1992:  43.14

Star Rating:

  • ****:  5.75%
  • ***.5:  5.43%
  • ***:  28.91%
  • **.5:  21.57%
  • **:  20.77%
  • *.5:  5.91%
  • *:  7.67%
  • .5:  3.83%
  • 0:  0.16%

Nighthawk Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  95
  • Number of Films That Have Won Nighthawks:  47
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  64
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  20
  • Best Picture Nominations:  12
  • Total Number of Nominations:  308
  • Total Number of Wins:  81
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Song  (78)
  • Director with Most Nighthawk Nominated Films:  Clyde Geronimi  (6)
  • Best Film with No Nighthawks:  O Brother Where Art Thou
  • Best Film with No Nighthawk Nominations:  The 25th Hour
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Drama Nominations:  12
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Comedy Nominations:  56
  • Number of Films That Have Won Drama Awards:  3
  • Number of Films That Have Won Comedy Awards:  19
  • Drama Picture Nominations:  3
  • Comedy Picture Nominations:  39
  • Total Number of Drama Nominations:  29
  • Total Number of Comedy Nominations:  120
  • Total Number of Drama Wins:  3
  • Total Number of Comedy Wins:  28
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Picture  (3 – Drama  /  39 – Comedy)
  • Best Drama Film With No Nominations:  Kundun
  • Best Comedy Film With No Nominations:  The Lion King
  • Most 2nd Place Finishes:  Mary Poppins  (5)
  • Most 6th Place Finishes:  Pinocchio  /  The Prestige  (3)
  • Most Top 10 Finishes:  Mary Poppins  (19)
  • Most Top 20 Finishes:  Mary Poppins  (20)
  • Films With at Least One Top 10 Finish:  133
  • Best Film Without a Top 10 Finish:  Signs
  • Films With at Least One Top 20 Finish:  154

Most Nighthawk Nominations:

  1. Mary Poppins  –  17
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  12
  3. Ed Wood  –  10
  4. Beauty and the Beast  –  9
  5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  –  8
  6. O Brother Where Art Thou  –  8
  7. Wall-E  –  8
  8. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea  –  7
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas  –  7
  10. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  7

Most Nighthawks:

  1. Ed Wood  –  7
  2. Mary Poppins  –  5
  3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  5
  4. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  –  3
  5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea  /  Dick Tracy  –  3

Most Nighthawk Points:

  1. Ed Wood  –  540
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  495
  3. Mary Poppins  –  480
  4. Wall-E  –  270
  5. O Brother Where Art Thou  –  255
  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  –  245
  7. Beauty and the Beast  –  240
  8. Beauty and the Beast  –  205
  9. Beauty and the Beast  –  205
  10. Bambi  /  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea  –  190

Most Drama Nominations:

  1. Quiz Show  –  6
  2. The Color of Money  –  3
  3. The Sixth Sense  –  3
  4. The Insider  –  3
  5. The Help  –  3

Most Comedy Nominations:

  1. Mary Poppins  –  6
  2. Grosse Pointe Blank  –  6
  3. The Royal Tenenbaums  –  6
  4. Ed Wood  –  5
  5. High Fidelity  –  5

Most Drama Wins:

  1. Bambi  –  1
  2. Quiz Show  –  1
  3. The Help  –  1

Most Comedy Wins:

  1. Ed Wood  –  5
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  4
  3. Wall-E  –  2
  4. Toy Story 3  –  2
  5. 15 films  –  1

Most Drama Points:

  1. Quiz Show  –  265
  2. Bambi  –  140
  3. The Help  –  125
  4. The Color of Money  –  105
  5. The Insider  –  105

Most Comedy Points:

  1. Ed Wood  –  400
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  340
  3. Grosse Pointe Blank  –  275
  4. Mary Poppins  –  265
  5. The Royal Tenenbaums  –  265

All-Time Nighthawk Awards

  • Best Picture
  1. Ed Wood
  2. Fantasia
  3. Spirited Away
  4. Wall-E
  5. Bambi

Analysis:  Roger Rabbit and Ed Wood win the Nighthawk.  There are also noms for Snow White, Fantasia, Bambi, Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, O Brother, Spirited Away, Ratatouille, Wall-E and UpBambi adds a Drama win (with a nom for Quiz Show) with Comedy wins for Fantasia, Melody Time, Alice in Wonderland (very weak years for those two), Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 3.  In total, 32 films earn a Comedy / Musical nom.
It took until 1964 for Disney’s first nom (Mary Poppins) and 1989 for its second (Dead Poets).  Since then it has added Beauty and the Beast, Quiz Show, Insider, Sixth Sense, Up, Toy Story 3, War Horse and The Help.
Disney has 5 Globe wins – all in Comedy / Musical: Green Card, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Evita and Toy Story 2.  It also has 17 Globe noms.  There are just 6 Globe noms in Drama: Dead Poets, Quiz Show, Horse Whisperer, Insider, Help, War Horse.
Dead Poets won the BAFTA while Pretty Woman, Quiz Show, Sixth Sense and The Help earned noms.
No CC wins yet but there have been 9 nominees (Evita, Sixth Sense, Insider, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Help, War Horse).  There have also been 8 PGA nominees (the usual films starting with Dead Poets and Quiz Show).
Wall-E won three critics awards (LAFC, BSFC, CFC).  Quiz Show won the NYFC and The Insider won the LAFC.

  • tbedBest Director
  1. Tim Burton  (Ed Wood)
  2. Robert Zemeckis  (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
  3. Christopher Nolan  (The Prestige)
  4. Robert Redford  (Quiz Show)
  5. Joel and Ethan Coen  (O Brother Where Art Thou?)

Analysis:  Burton and Zemeckis win the Nighthawk with noms for the Coens and Robert Stevenson (Mary Poppins).  Redford is the only Drama nominee while five others earn Comedy noms.
Until 1989, Stevenson was the only Oscar nominee.  Since then there’s been Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society), Redford, M Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense) and Michael Mann (The Insider).
The Globes have nominated Weir, Redford and Mann as well as Alan Parker (Evita) and Redford again (Horse Whisperer).  The BAFTAs have nominated Weir and Shymalan.  The CC have nominated Spielberg (War Horse).
The DGA has been the most generous, nominating all five Oscar nominees as well as Zemeckis.
Zemeckis and Oliver Stone (Nixon) won the CFC.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Ed Wood
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  3. O Brother Where Art Thou
  4. High Fidelity
  5. Quiz Show

Analysis:  Ed Wood wins the Nighthawk with noms for another 15 films.  Roger Rabbit, Little Mermaid, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 add Comedy wins while there are 26 total Comedy nominees.
Mary Poppins was again the only Oscar nominee until the 80s (when Color of Money earned a nom).  Quiz Show, The Insider, O Brother and Toy Story 3 have earned noms since.
Quiz Show and Insider earned Globe noms.  Quiz Show won the BAFTA with seven other films earning noms.  Toy Story 3 and The Help earned CC noms.
Disney earned WGA noms when the categories were divided by genre instead of adapted / original with a win for Mary Poppins and noms for The Parent Trap, The Absent Minded Professor, Babes in Toyland and That Darn Cat.  It wouldn’t be until 1988 that they would earn another (Roger Rabbit) and since then only Joy Luck Club, Quiz Show, Ed Wood (both as original), A Civil Action, Insider, High Fidelity and The Help have earned noms.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Spirited Away
  2. Wall-E
  3. Ratatouille
  4. The Royal Tenenbaums
  5. Up

Analysis:  Ratatouille and Wall-E both win the Nighthawk.  There are another 8 nominees, half of which are Pixar films.  Toy Story and Grosse Pointe Blank add Comedy wins.  In total, there are 18 Comedy nominees.
Splash was the first nominee while Dead Poets Society would actually win the Oscar (the only Disney win in the biggest categories).  There have been a total of 11 nominees with Pixar making up six of them (including the last five).
Dead Poets, Mr. Holland’s Opus and Sixth Sense earned Globe noms.  Eight films have earned BAFTA noms (but just two of them Pixar).  Up was a CC nominee.
It took until Splash for Disney to earn a WGA nom.  With Pixar not a signatory to the guild, the noms have been few (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Dead Poets, Green Card, Pretty Woman, Sixth Sense, Royal Tenenbaums).
Splash won the NSFC while Ratatouille won the BSFC and Wall-E won the CFC.

  • deppBest Actor:
  1. Johnny Depp  (Ed Wood)
  2. Ralph Fiennes  (Quiz Show)
  3. Russell Crowe  (The Insider)
  4. John Cusack  (High Fidelity)
  5. Paul Newman  (The Color of Money)

Analysis:  Depp wins the Nighthawk.  There are nine additional Nighthawk nominees, all from 1986 to 2006: Fiennes, Crowe, Cusack, Newman, Bob Hoskins (Roger Rabbit), Anthony Hopkins (Nixon), Clooney (O Brother), Depp again (Pirates) and Christian Bale (Prestige).  Hoskins and Gene Hackman (Royal Tenenbaums) win the Comedy award and Fiennes wins for Drama (he lost the Nighthawk to Depp).  In total, there are 5 Drama noms and 15 Comedy noms.
Interestingly, Newman won the Oscar with Disney’s first nomination in the category.  After that were noms for Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets), Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do With It), Hopkins, Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus), Crowe, Richard Farnsworth (Straight Story) and Depp (Pirates).  A very different list than the Nighthawks.
No one has won the Globe in Drama but there have been seven nominations.  There have been four Comedy wins: Williams (Vietnam), Gerard Depardieu (Green Card), Clooney and Hackman.  There have also been 13 Comedy noms including Depp three times.
There have been just four BAFTA noms: Williams (both times), Crowe and Depp (Pirates).  Crowe won the CC and Depp was nominated for Pirates.  Depp won SAG for Pirates while Hopkins and Crowe were nominated.  Crowe won three critics awards, Hackman won two and Newman and Farnsworth won one each.

  • julie-andrews-mary-poppins-ledeBest Actress
  1. Julie Andrews  (Mary Poppins)
  2. Amy Adams  (Enchanted)
  3. Viola Davis  (The Help)
  4. Angela Bassett  (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
  5. Meg Ryan  (When a Man Loves a Woman)

Analysis:  Andrews and Davis earn Nighthawk noms as does Sissy Spacek (Country) who was my #6.  Andrews win the Comedy / Musical award with 9 other performances earning noms.
Andrews won the Oscar of course (the first ever major Oscar win for a Disney film) with noms for Davis, Bassett, Spacek and Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman).
Andrews, Roberts, Bassett and Madonna (Evita) won the Comedy / Musical award at the Globes.  There have also been 18 noms (including two for the original Freaky Friday) and four Drama noms (Spacek, Davis, Jessica Lange (A Thousand Acres) and Cate Blanchett (Veronica Guerin)).  Roberts and Davis are the only BAFTA nominees.  Davis won the CC with a nom for Adams.  Davis also won SAG with noms for Ryan and Joan Allen (Nixon – nominated in supporting elsewhere).  There have been no critics winners.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Martin Landau  (Ed Wood)
  2. Bill Murray  (Rushmore)
  3. Christopher Plummer  (The Insider)
  4. John Turturro  (Quiz Show)
  5. Haley Joel Osment  (The Sixth Sense)

Analysis:  Landau and Murray win the Nighthawk with noms for the other three as well as Paul Scofield (Quiz Show).  There are also seven additional Comedy noms.
Landau won the Oscar while Al Pacino (Dick Tracy), Scofield, Robert Duvall (A Civil Action) and Osment earned noms.
Landau is the only Globe winner but there have actually been 8 Globe nominations starting way back in 1958 with David Ladd in The Proud Rebel.  Only Pacino, Scofield and Landau have even earned BAFTA noms with no winners.  Ed Harris won the CC for Nixon (but more for Apollo 13 which wasn’t a Disney film).  Landau and Duvall won SAG with noms for Turturro and Osment.  Landau won a dominating five critics awards while Murray and Plummer won three each and Duvall won one.

  • Octavia-Spencer-The-HelpBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Octavia Spencer  (The Help)
  2. Joan Allen  (Nixon)
  3. Jessica Chastain  (The Help)
  4. Toni Collette  (The Sixth Sense)
  5. Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio  (The Color of Money)

Analysis:  Spencer wins the Nighthawk while Allen, Collette and Mastrontonio earn noms.  Chastain does earn a Drama nom and four other performances earn Comedy noms.
Spencer won the Oscar while the other four in my Top 5 all earned Oscar noms.
Spencer also won the Globe with noms for Chastain, Mastrontonio and Nicole Kidman (Billy Bathgate).  Spencer won the BAFTA with noms for Chastain and Allen.  Spencer won the CC with a nom for Chastain with the same results at SAG.  Allen won four critics awards and Chastain won three (partially for her other films that year).

  • Best Ensemble
  1. Quiz Show
  2. Nixon
  3. The Royal Tenenbaums
  4. The Insider
  5. The Help

Analysis:  This is based on the total points for acting for all members of the cast.
The Help won the SAG Ensemble while Nixon was nominated.  The Help also won the NBR.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  2. Ed Wood
  3. Wall-E
  4. The Prestige
  5. Mary Poppins

Analysis:  Mary Poppins and Roger Rabbit win the Nighthawk.  Another 12 films earn nominations.
Mary Poppins and Roger Rabbit also win the Oscar.  Nominations went to 20,000 Leagues, Parent Trap, Crimson Tide, Evita, Insider and Sixth Sense.
There have been 5 BAFTA nominees: Roger Rabbit, Dead Poets, Dick Tracy, Evita, Sixth SenseWar Horse earned a CC nom.  Parent Trap and Mary Poppins won the ACE early on and then Disney didn’t win another ACE until 2003 (Pirates) but has won with Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 since the Animated category began.  They also won for Alice in Wonderland.  Another 17 films have earned ACE noms.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Ed Wood
  2. The Prestige
  3. Kundun
  4. War Horse
  5. O Brother Where Art Thou

Analysis:  Ed Wood wins the Nighthawk.  Nominations go to the rest of my Top 5 as well as Mary Poppins and Roger Rabbit.
No Disney film has ever won the Oscar and Ed Wood, ridiculously, wasn’t even nominated.  But there have been 14 nominations with only three of them coming during the 2 category era.  After only earning 4 through 1979, there were three in a row from 88-90 and then five in a row from 96-00.
There have been 4 BAFTA nominees: Roger Rabbit, Evita, O Brother, War HorseWar Horse won the CC.  Blaze is the only ASC winner while 10 films have earned noms including 8 from 1995-2001.
Ed Wood won four critics awards, Kundun won three, Never Cry Wolf won two and Where the Heart Is, The Insider and Straight Story won one each.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Beauty and the Beast
  2. Dead Poets Society
  3. The Lion King
  4. The Little Mermaid
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Analysis:  Snow White, Lion King and Up win the Nighthawk.  Another 16 films earn nominations including the three Menken films from the Disney Renaissance.
A dominating category for Disney at the Oscars.  Nine films have won the Oscar including five in seven years during the Renaissance.  Another 28 films have earned noms plus three more that earned Adapted or Song Score noms.  Up is the only Pixar film to win the Oscar but six others have earned noms.  Three of the noms over the years were for Documentaries (Victory Through Air Power, Perri, White Wilderness).
Disney managed four wins in six years at the Globes during the Renaissance and then won again for Up.  Another 15 films have earned noms with 10 of them coming from 1993-2001.
Dead Poets and Up won the BAFTA.  Another 8 films have earned noms.  Up won the CC while Enchanted, Princess and the Frog and War Horse earned noms.  Eight different films have won a critics award but no film has won more than one.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Wall-E
  2. Fantasia
  3. Evita
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Analysis:  No Disney film has won the Nighthawk though 16 films have earned noms.
No Disney film has won the Oscar either but not for lack of trying.  The studio has racked up 28 nominations, starting with Bambi and most recently with War Horse.  After only earning 10 noms through 1989, the studio has managed 18 in just over 20 years since.
No BAFTA wins either among 10 noms.  Toy Story 3 and War Horse have CC noms.  There have been 11 CAS noms but no wins.

  • Tim-Burton-s-Alice-In-Wonderland-alice-in-wonderland-2010-13677670-1360-768Best Art Direction:
  1. Alice in Wonderland
  2. Dick Tracy
  3. Mary Poppins
  4. The Prestige
  5. Evita

Analysis:  Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and The Prestige have won the Nighthawk.  Nine other films have earned noms.
20,000 Leagues, Dick Tracy and Alice have won the Oscar.  Another 13 films have earned noms including two each in 1988 and 2006.
Dick Tracy won the BAFTA with 6 other films earning noms.  Alice and War Horse earn CC noms.  In just over a decade at the ADG, Disney has racked up 14 noms (including all four Pirates films) but no wins.  Evita won the LAFC.

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Dick Tracy
  2. Alice in Wonderland
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  4. Evita
  5. The Prestige

Analysis:  Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Alice in Wonderland have won the Nighthawk.  Six other films have earned noms.
After 12 noms from 1959 to 2000 without winning the award, Disney then went over a decade before finally earning a 13th nom and winning the Oscar with Alice.
The same thing happened at the BAFTAs with Alice the only winner among 8 total nominations.  Alice also won the CC while The Help earned a nom.  But the CDG has awarded Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic and Alice while 11 other films have earned noms.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Analysis:  Nighthawk winners are 20,000 Leagues, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Roger Rabbit.  Another 11 films earn noms.
The Nighthawk winners all won the Oscar as did the second Pirates.  Another 12 films have earned noms.
Roger Rabbit, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and the second Pirates won the BAFTA with another 12 films earning noms.
Alice in Wonderland and Tron: Legacy have earned CC noms.  The second Pirates, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up have won VES awards with 10 other films earning noms.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Wall-E
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  3. The Rock
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  5. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Analysis:   Fantasia, 20,000 Leagues and The Rock win the Nighthawk.  Another 13 films earn noms.
Roger Rabbit, Pearl Harbor and Incredibles won the Oscar.  Another 14 films earned noms, six of which are Pixar films.
Never Cry Wolf, Crimson Tide and War Horse have won MPSE awards with noms for 15 other films.

  • Dick-Tracy-e1580067839410-1280x720Best Makeup
  1. Dick Tracy
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  4. Ed Wood
  5. Alice in Wonderland

Analysis:  Dick Tracy, Ed Wood and Alice have won the Nighthawk while another eight films have earned noms including the first three Pirates films.
Dick Tracy, Ed Wood and Lion won the Oscar with noms for Roommates, Bicentennial Man, Apocalypto and the first and third Pirates.
Dick Tracy, Pirates, Lion and Alice won the BAFTA with noms for Ed Wood, 101 Dalmations, Evita and the second Pirates.
Alice won the CC.  Pirates won three awards at the guild while Bicentennial Man and Sorority Boys each won won one with five other films earning noms.

  • Best Technical Aspects
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  2. The Prestige
  3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  4. Mary Poppins
  5. Dick Tracy

Analysis:  This just adds up the totals in the Tech categories.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”  (Mary Poppins)
  2. “When You Wish Upon a Star”  (Pinocchio)
  3. “Circle of Life”  (The Lion King)
  4. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”  (Song of the South)
  5. “Life’s a Happy Song”  (The Muppets)

Analysis:  Perhaps the hardest top 5 in any category for any studio.  Disney had no less than 17 songs listed with a perfect 9 in my Best Song post.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. Fantasia
  2. Spirited Away
  3. Wall-E
  4. Bambi
  5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Analysis:  Pretty easy since these are the Top 5 Animated Films ever made.  Through 2011, Disney has won the Nighthawk 31 times and earned another 13 nominations with four of them losing to another Disney film.
Although none of the wins are for Disney Animation itself, Disney has won seven Oscars through 2011 (one for Ghibli, six for Pixar).  It has also earned 8 other noms, six of which were for Disney films themselves.
Starting late, the first five Globe awards went to Disney along with four other noms.  Disney has managed four BAFTA wins and a nom.  Because they started early, Disney has won 10 CC awards and earned eight other noms.  With the Annies having started first, Disney has won 13 awards there with three films repeating at the PGA while two films won the PGA without the Annie (the DreamWorks controversies).  Another 16 films have earned Annie noms with four of them adding PGA noms.
Pixar has dominated critics awards with four each for Wall-E and Toy Story 3 and three each for Incredibles, Ratatouille and UpSpirited Away won three awards.  Beauty and the Beast won two awards.  Another 10 films have won one critics award each (mostly the LAFC which is the oldest critics award in this category by a long way).

  • Best Foreign Film:
  1. Spirited Away
  2. Howl’s Moving Castle
  3. Ponyo

Analysis:  That’s it for ***.5 or **** films released by Disney.  Disney hasn’t released much in the way of Foreign Films (just 12 through 2011, almost half of which are Studio Ghibli).  Spirited Away earns a Nighthawk nom (but is kept out of the win by Amelie).
Apocalypto won the Globe and earned a CC nom.  Spirited Away and Apocalypto earned BAFTA noms.

  • Best Film (by my points system):
  1. Mary Poppins
  2. The Prestige
  3. Ed Wood
  4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Analysis:  Adding up all of my points.

  • Best Film  (weighted points system)
  1. Mary Poppins
  2. The Prestige
  3. Ed Wood
  4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Analysis:  The rare example where this doesn’t change at all.

Best Films With No Top 5 Finishers:

  • The Incredibles
  • Finding Nemo

Worst Film with a Top 5 Finish:

  • When a Man Loves a Woman

Nighthawk Notablesamyadams

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Fantasia
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Worst film you ever saw?  Well my next one will be better”  (Ed Wood  –  Johnny Depp)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  (Bambi – Peter Behn)
  • Best Opening:  Up
  • Best Ending:  The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Best Scene:  “The Dance of the Hours” in Fantasia
  • Best Death Scene:  Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  the realization that Bruce Willis is dead in The Sixth Sense
  • Most Heart-Breaking Scene:  the opening of Finding Nemo
  • Best Kiss:  Belle and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “The Circle of Life” in The Lion King
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Best Soundtrack:  Mary Poppins
  • Funniest Film:  Ratatouille
  • Worst Film I Saw in the Theater:  Spy Hard
  • Worst Film by a Top 100 Director:  Guilty as Sin  (Sidney Lumet)
  • Watch the Film, SKIP the Book:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The Three Musketeers  (1993)
  • Best Sequel / Franchise Film:  Toy Story 3
  • Worst Sequel / Franchise Film:  Ernest Goes to Jail
  • Worst Remake:  The Scarlet Letter
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Amy Adams in Enchanted
  • Sexiest Performance:  Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Jane March in Color of Night
  • Coolest Performance:  John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank
  • Best Credits:  High Fidelity  (closing)
  • Best Tagline:  “You won’t believe your eye.”  (Monsters Inc.)
  • Best Teaser:  Ratatouille
  • Best Trailer:  High Fidelity
  • Best Cameo:  Donald and Daffy in Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Robin Williams in Aladdin

note:  As usual, several categories that are normally here (Best Ensemble, Most Over-Rated) are given a fuller treatment above and so aren’t listed here.

Soundtracks I Own:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Good Morning Vietnam, Oliver & Company, The Little Mermaid, Dead Poets Society, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, Evita, Grosse Pointe Blank, He Got Game, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, O Brother Where Art Thou, High Fidelity, Monsters Inc, Spirited Away, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, The Muppets

At the Theater

I will cover this in the rankings.  See the bottom.


Academy Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  118
  • Number of Films That Have Won Oscars:  32
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  61
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  15
  • Best Picture Nominations:  10
  • Total Number of Nominations:  281
  • Total Number of Wins:  52
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Score  (40)
  • Directors with Most Oscar Nominated Films:  Ron Clements  /  John Musker  (5)
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Fantasia
  • Year with Most Nominated Films:  1995  /  1998  (7)
  • Year with Most Nominations:  1999  (17)
  • Year with Most Oscars:  1964  (5)

Oscar Oddities:

  • Disney has one fewer film with multiple Oscar nominations than did Miramax which started 50 years later.
  • Mary Poppins earned as many Oscar points as every Disney film from 1951-63 combined or more than every Disney film from 1965-1985 combined.
  • Prior to the 5 Oscars won by Mary Poppins, Disney’s feature films had only won 6 combined Oscars.
  • Disney is thought of for its Song nominations but prior to 1964, of the 21 nominated films, only seven were nominated for Song (and only two won) while 15 were nominated for Score (with also two wins).
  • Prior to 1989, Disney had one Best Picture nominee.  Then it had five from 1989-1999 and four more from 2009-2011.
  • In just 20 years, Miramax earned far more Supporting Actress nominations (36) than Disney has earned total acting nominations in over 70 years (24).
  • Disney, even though it wins far fewer awards than other studios (just 12 in the 00s), has the longest active streak of at least one Oscar win, dating back to 2001.

Most Oscar Nominations

  1. Mary Poppins  –  13
  2. Dick Tracy  –  7
  3. The Insider  –  7
  4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  6
  5. Beauty and the Beast  –  6
  6. The Sixth Sense  –  6
  7. Wall-E  –  6
  8. War Horse  –  6
  9. seven films  –  5

Most Oscar Wins:

  1. Mary Poppins  –  5
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  3
  3. Dick Tracy  –  3
  4. 12 films  –  2

Most Oscar Points:

  1. Mary Poppins  –  445
  2. The Insider  –  240
  3. The Sixth Sense  –  220
  4. Dead Poets Society  –  210
  5. Up  –  195
  6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  175
  7. The Help  –  175
  8. Dick Tracy  –  170
  9. Quiz Show  –  165
  10. Toy Story 3  –  165

Critics Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Won Critics Awards:  33
  • Number of Films With Multiple Awards:  19
  • Best Picture Wins:  5
  • Total Number of Awards:  90
  • Category With the Most Awards:  Animated Film  (32)

Most Awards:

  1. Ed Wood  –  10
  2. Wall-E  –  9
  3. The Insider  –  8
  4. Nixon  –  5
  5. six films  –  4

Most Points:

  1. Wall-E  –  541
  2. Ed Wood  –  522
  3. The Insider  –  507
  4. Nixon  –  303
  5. The Help  –  238

Most Points by Critics Group:

  • NYFC:  The Straight Story  –  120
  • LAFC:  The Insider  –  280
  • NSFC:  The Insider  –  130
  • BSFC:  Wall-E  –  140
  • CFC:  Wall-E  –  270
  • NBR:  The Help  –  80

Golden Globes

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations: 94
  • Number of Films That Have Won Globes:  22
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  38
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  7
  • Best Picture Nominations:  28  (6 – Drama, 22 – Comedy)
  • Total Number of Nominations:  164
  • Total Number of Wins:  32
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Picture  (28; 6 – Drama, 22 – Comedy)
  • Best Film with No Globe Nominations:  Spirited Away
  • Best English Language Film with No Globe Nominations:  The Prestige


  • Disney has won Best Picture five times at the Globes – all in Comedy, all in the 90s.
  • Disney once went 20 years between Picture noms (1964-1984).
  • After not receiving a Globe nom in Picture – Drama until 1989, it received four in 11 years.  Then it didn’t receive another one for 12 years before getting two in the same year.
  • Even though the Best Song category began regularly in 1964, Disney wouldn’t receive a nomination until 1976 and wouldn’t receive a second one until 1986.  In that same period, Disney won the Oscar and earned 5 other Oscar nominations.
  • In 2011, Disney doubled it previous total of Supporting Actress nominations by earning two noms for The Help.
  • Animated Film and Song, two categories Disney traditionally does well in, are also categories that most often have just one nom.  But Disney has by far the most in Actress, with 15 films failing to earn any other Globe noms, including four in 2003 alone (Calendar Girls, Freaky Friday, Under the Tuscan Sun, Veronica Guerin).

Most Globe Nominations:

  1. Aladdin  –  5
  2. Evita  –  5
  3. The Insider  –  5
  4. The Help  –  5
  5. eight films  –  4

Most Globes:

  1. Beauty and the Beast  –  3
  2. The Lion King  –  3
  3. Evita  –  3
  4. The Little Mermaid  /  Green Card  –  2
  5. Aladdin  /  Up  –  2

Most Globe Points:

  1. Evita  –  270
  2. Green Card  –  205
  3. The Insider  –  195
  4. Pretty Woman  –  185
  5. The Help  –  185
  6. Mary Poppins  –  180
  7. Beauty and the Beast  –  180
  8. The Lion King  –  180
  9. Dead Poets Society  –  170
  10. Quiz Show  –  165

Guild Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  94
  • Number of Films That Have Won Guild Awards:  32
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  49
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  13
  • Best Picture Nominations:  25
  • Total Number of Nominations:  207
  • Total Number of Wins:  55
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Animated Film  (31)
  • Best Film with No Guild Nominations:  The Little Mermaid

Most Guild Nominations:

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  9
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest  –  8
  3. The Help  –  8
  4. The Sixth Sense  –  6
  5. The Insider  –  6
  6. Wall-E  –  6
  7. The Royal Tenenbaums  –  5
  8. Ratatouille  –  5
  9. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End  –  5
  10. Up  /  Toy Story 3  –  5

Most Guild Wins:

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  5
  2. Up  –  4
  3. The Lion King  –  3
  4. Cars  /  Ratatouille  –  3
  5. Wall-E  /  The Help  –  3

Most Guild Points:

  1. The Help  –  365
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  250
  3. The Insider  –  220
  4. Up  –  210
  5. The Sixth Sense  –  185
  6. Wall-E  –  180
  7. Mary Poppins  –  175
  8. Toy Story 3  –  175
  9. Quiz Show  –  165
  10. Ratatouille  –  155


  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  39
  • Number of Films That Have Won BAFTAs:  14
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  22
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  4
  • Best Picture Nominations:  5
  • Total Number of Nominations:  108
  • Total Number of Wins:  18
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Visual Effects  (15)
  • Best Film with No BAFTA Nominations:  The Little Mermaid

Most BAFTA Noms:

  1. Evita  –  8
  2. Dick Tracy  –  7
  3. Dead Poets Society  –  6
  4. Alice in Wonderland  –  6
  5. six films  –  5

Most BAFTA Wins:

  1. Dead Poets Society  –  2
  2. Dick Tracy  –  2
  3. Up  –  2
  4. Alice in Wonderland  –  2
  5. 10 films  –  1

Most BAFTA Points:

  1. Dead Poets Society  –  295
  2. The Help  –  215
  3. Evita  –  180
  4. Dick Tracy  –  165
  5. Quiz Show  /  The Sixth Sense  –  160

Critic’s Choice Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  35
  • Number of Films That Have Won CC Awards:  18
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  13
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  3
  • Best Picture Nominations:  9
  • Total Number of Nominations:  70
  • Total Number of Wins:  22
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Animated Film  (18)
  • Best Film with No CC Nominations:  Grosse Pointe Blank

Most CC Noms:

  1. The Help  –  8
  2. War Horse  –  7
  3. Toy Story 3  –  5
  4. Up  –  4
  5. Alice in Wonderland  –  4

Most CC Wins:

  1. The Help  –  3
  2. Up  –  2
  3. Alice in Wonderland  –  2
  4. 15 films  –  1

Most CC Points:

  1. The Help  –  355
  2. War Horse  –  235
  3. Up  –  180
  4. Toy Story 3  –  160
  5. The Insider  –  120

All Awards

Most Nominations:

  1. The Help  –  34
  2. The Insider  –  29
  3. Wall-E  –  29
  4. Up  –  24
  5. War Horse  –  24
  6. Toy Story 3  –  23
  7. Evita  –  22
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  22
  9. Mary Poppins  –  20
  10. Alice in Wonderland  (2010)  –  20

Most Awards:

  1. Wall-E  –  16
  2. Up  –  16
  3. Ed Wood  –  14
  4. The Help  –  13
  5. Ratatouille  –  11
  6. Toy Story 3  –  11
  7. The Insider  –  9
  8. Mary Poppins  –  8
  9. Beauty and the Beast  /  The Lion King  –  8
  10. The Incredibles  /  Alice in Wonderland (2010)  –  8

Total Awards Points

  1. The Help  –  1370
  2. The Insider  –  1213
  3. Wall-E  –  1081
  4. Up  –  918
  5. Ed Wood  –  834
  6. Dead Poets Society  –  746
  7. Toy Story 3  –  746
  8. Mary Poppins  –  729
  9. Quiz Show  –  689
  10. The Sixth Sense  –  636

Total Awards Points Percentage

  1. The Insider  –  7.79%
  2. Mary Poppins  –  7.39%
  3. The Help  –  6.72%
  4. Dead Poets Society  –  6.36%
  5. Ed Wood  –  6.17%
  6. Wall-E  –  6.01%
  7. Quiz Show  –  5.10%
  8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit  –  4.69%
  9. Up  –  4.68%
  10. Nixon  –  4.48%


Lists for studios are harder because I have to come up with them myself.  There are no books that rank the best films by studio and no way to sort through them on the IMDb or TSPDT.

The TSPDT Top 10 Disney Films

  1. Spirited Away  (#159)
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (#315)
  3. Wall-E  (#366)
  4. Fantasia  (#456)
  5. Pinocchio  (#459)
  6. Toy Story  (#514)
  7. The Royal Tenenbaums  (#536)
  8. Rushmore  (#591)
  9. Bambi  (#652)
  10. Dumbo  (#733)

note:  The numbers in parenthesis are the position on the most recent (2020) TSPDT list.  It’s worth noting that several of these films have been moving up the list rather than down.  Spirited Away, Wall-E and Tenenbaums are all higher than they have ever been before.

The IMDb Top 10 Disney Films

  1. Spirited Away
  2. The Lion King
  3. The Prestige
  4. Wall-E
  5. Toy Story
  6. Toy Story 3
  7. Up
  8. Howl’s Moving Castle
  9. Finding Nemo
  10. Dead Poets Society

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office – Disney

note:  See note at the end of the post.


There are two parts to the list.  The first part of the list includes useful books about the studio that I was able to get from work (remember – I work in a university library).  If you have a real interest in the history of Disney, they will help carry you through the years, at least until the early part of this century because that’s when they all seem to have been published.  Remember – this is just scratching the surface.  There are numerous books on Disney from biographies of Walt to reference books to stories about behind the scenes to reference books to academic books.  This is just a taste.

schickelThe Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, Richard Schickel, 1968

Not the first book about the man and the company (Schickel cites over a dozen books in the bibliography) but one of the first comprehensive ones.  Schickel had a head start, having been working on the book for over a year when Disney died and his foreword is dated just five months after Disney’s death.  Not a book for those who want to hold up Disney as the epitome of what is good in Hollywood.

maltinThe Disney Films, Leonard Maltin, 1973 / 1984 / 1995 / 2000

Maltin has been a big Disney fan his entire life.  This book began with a special issue of a magazine he worked at after Disney himself died and turned into a full-length book.  Maltin has revisited it several times but in just shorter pieces and has never devoted real length reviews of the post-Walt films that he did in the original edition to the films made before Walt died.  Still, it’s a very useful guide to the first 30 years of feature films at Disney.

Donald Duck Joins Up: The Walt Disney Studio During World War II, Richard Shale, 1982

This academic study looks at the way that Disney reacted to the war and the work that the studio did on behalf of the war effort.  An interesting short (less than 150 pages of text) book that looks at a part of the studio’s history that rarely gets much print.

smithDisney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia, Dave Smith, 1996 / 2016

Smith was the original Disney archivist and stayed in that position from the creation of the Disney Archives in 1970 until his retirement in 2010.  This is a very complete encyclopedia that covers everything about the studio through the mid 90s.  A first-class reference book beyond what any other studio has available.  The latest edition (5th) runs through the mid 10s.

Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, Bob Thomas, 1998

Thomas had already written a biography of Walt and a book about the studio’s history of animation so I guess he needed to keep writing about the studio.  This might confuse people because it was the son, Roy E. Disney, who would become so important for pushing Eisner out and that didn’t happen until several years after this book was written.  But still, Roy was important in the history of his younger brother’s Walt company and so this does fill a niche in the studio’s history.

smithclarkDisney: The First 100 Years, Dave Smith and Steven Clark, 1999

Sadly, the first 100 years in question date back to Walt’s birth and not the foundation of the company.  But this is still a nice coffee table book that covers Walt’s early life fairly quickly and then gives solid descriptions of what was happening at the company year by year through the end of the 90s.

Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out, Sean Griffin, 2000

This is a quasi-academic book that looks at the history of Disney as seen through the lens of Queer Theory.  It’s interesting, both to see the history of LGBT at Disney and the way that the LGBT community has come to either embrace or push Disney away.

The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip, Kim Masters, 2000

Masters, who was already well-known for writing the great book about Columbia, Hit & Run, takes on what Eisner did as head of Disney and specifically focuses in on his time between the death of Wells and the final settlement with Katzenberg that ended up costing Disney nearly $300 million (probably more if you count the legal fees).

disneywarDisneywar, James B. Stewart, 2006

A book that chronicles the run of Michael Eisner at the top of the studio and all the success and problems that brought about.  No matter what you thought of Eisner as a person, after reading this book, you will think less.  A well-chronicled book about an important time in the studio’s history.

Books I Own

This second section is entirely made up of books I actually own.  And again, this just scratches the surface in a sense because a lot of these books have other companion books and these just happen to be the ones that I own.

disneyThe Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney 4 book set, Golden Press, 1965

I wrote about this set of books originally over a decade ago and five apartments back.  It’s a set of four hardcover books that cover a wide array of subjects that cover almost all of the films that Disney made through 1965.  I owned copies as a kid (that were falling apart and without the slipcase) and then after finding one of the four at a library sale in 2006 found the entire set on ebay.  Absolutely wonderful and there may be no books I loved as much as a kid that I tracked down as an adult except for maybe D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths.

fanWalt Disney’s Fantasia, John Culhane, 1983

Surprisingly not part of a series but rather just a stand alone coffee table book covering the greatest Animated film ever made.

donaldWalt Disney’s Donald Duck: 50 Years of Happy Frustration, HPBooks, 1984

A book that’s really too thin to be described as a coffee table book but is still a nice, larger than average book (in terms of height, not thickness) that gives a nice history of the first 50 years of Donald.  I couldn’t resist buying it when it came into the Booksmith because I love Donald.

ts-sketchToy Story: The Sketchbook Series, Applewood Books, 2000

The seventh of the Sketchbook Series although, aside from The Little Mermaid, the first to feature a film made after 1959.  This is a wonderful book full of original art from both Toy Story films (although it does focus more on the second film) with a nice slipcase.  This book is not only the most valuable Disney book we own but, now that the Faulkner collection is long gone, quite possibly the most valuable book we own with copies going for several hundred dollars on ebay.  We have copy #1994 of 2500.

monstersMonsters Inc. Essential Guide, DK, 2001

DK is the premier publishing company for guides like these and there have been a lot over the years.  This just happens to be one for a movie that Thomas loves that we found at a used bookstore and got for him.  It probably doesn’t hurt that Veronica has a little toy Roz because at the time the film was released it was her job to make certain that people filed their paperwork.

duvgDisney: The Ultimate Visual Guide, DK, 2002

If the individual guides to films from DK are nice, their visual guides are a must.  I have one for all of the Lord of the Rings films and I have so many for Star Wars films that I’ve lost track if there are still ones I might need.  In fact, searching “visual guide” on the DK site brings up thousands of results.  I could easily spend four figures (if I had it) at DK in a matter of minutes.  My guide is way outdated now (it’s actually the first edition and there have been many since) but it’s still a great book to browse.

art-walleThe Art of Wall-E, Tim Hauser, 2008

If you really want to own a large treasure trove of wonderful hardcover Disney coffee table books and you have a lot of disposable income then head here and you can look at all the wonderful books Chronicle Books has to offer.  This is one of a number of “art of” books for Pixar films.  It’s the only one I have because we got it for free (when my friend Jay worked at Pixar we got a lot of free Pixar stuff) and they run $40 a pop.  But they are beautiful books and absolutely worth having.

smith-triviaDisney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered, Dave Smith, 2012

This was written not long after Smith stepped down as the Archivist for Disney.  It covers years of the “Ask Dave” column that appeared in various Disney magazines and covers the entire history of the company.  I actually got really lucky and got an uncorrected proof of this book for free back when I worked at the Booksmith.

theydrewThey Drew as They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Late Golden Age: The 1940s – Part Two, Didier Ghez, 2017

This is, sadly, the only one of the six volumes in this series that I own (it comes third in the series).  This is another wonderful book from Chronicle, this one showing a lot of the storyboards and original art from the early years at Disney.  Each volume covers a period of time and a variety of films being worked on at the time.  This is another expensive book (this one is $45 and the others in the series run between $40 and $50) that I actually got for free (as an early reader on LibraryThing).  And of course the cover is dancing hippos!!!


The Best Disney Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

nightmare_before_christmas_ver1Nightmare Before Christmas

(1993, dir. Henry Selick)

It’s a shame that Tim Burton didn’t actually direct this because given the sub-par work he’s done over the last decade this would have helped his numbers heading into the Top 100 Directors 3.0.  I think for a long time I even listed him as the director which is unfair to Henry Selick, who is a great animation director in his own right, later following this up with James and the Giant Peach and Coraline (and a yet unreleased film working with Key and Peele that might be my most anticipated non-Pixar Animated release coming up).  But there’s no question that this film really stems from the twisted mind of Tim Burton.  After all, Burton was a man who left Disney because they didn’t really have a place for a man like him and then returned to release this film through them and they pushed it off onto Touchstone because it was just too messed up for their regular Buena Vista, a distribution studio that regularly kills off parents of children.

This film starts off with a concept so brilliant that when it was quasi-ripped-off by the relentlessly mediocre The Rise of the Guardians, my wife was determined to champion that film simply because of the idea that there are manifestations of holidays that come to life.  Here we have Halloween Town with its #1 scarer Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King (even if he’s not the mayor, everyone in the town looks to him for leadership).  But Jack is getting bored with scaring people year after year (starting with the magnificent opening number “This is Halloween”) and while out walking, trying to think about the future, he comes upon the trees that lead to other holidays and he discovers Christmastown and starts to get some new ideas.

There are a whole lot of things that this film and not much that it does wrong and in some ways those things are even connected.  Aside from the marvelous concept, the absolutely amazing stop motion work that helped to revive the very concept at the same time that Aardman was making some of the best short features in history and the overall production work, the key thing to this film has to do with the music and with the music the lead performance.

Danny Elfman was simply one of the most fascinating musical artists in rock and roll when Tim Burton dragged him into the world of film soundtracks with Burton’s first feature, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  After that, they were a team and this time, it wasn’t just a score that Elfman provided but an entire soundtrack of original songs and he even sang the lead performance as Jack (though he didn’t do Jack’s non-singing).  But that’s where the one slight problem with the film comes in: the film’s two best numbers (by a long way), “This is Halloween” and “What’s This” are both front-loaded and later on we suffer through lesser numbers like “Oogie Boogie’s Song” which aren’t nearly as good.  But that’s a slight price to pay for a soundtrack as rich as this one and a world so enchanting.

Nightmare isn’t a Kids film – I rate it as a Fantasy film and Disney themselves clearly didn’t see it as a Kids film.  But things have changed in the way that kids interact with films and I think there’s a reason that Disney had no hesitation in adding it to Disney+ while a lot of films haven’t made the leap (neither of the next two reviews are available there).  Yes, it has some frightening moments, but no more so than the death of the mothers of Bambi or Nemo.  What’s more it has a lot of fun and being scared is a specific part of the fun.  That’s kind of what a Tim Burton film is all about anyway, and coming back to Disney to make this lead to his next film being the single best film that Disney has ever released.

The (Almost) Worst Disney Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

color_of_nightColor of Night

(1994, dir. Richard Rush)

I will come clean and admit that the worst Disney film I haven’t yet reviewed is The Hot Chick.  But I already reviewed both Deuce Bigelow films (the first of which was actually a Disney film while the second was a Columbia film) and I don’t feel like having to deal with the douchebagery of Rob Schneider yet again.  As you’ll see when we get to the full list, there are actually 12 films released by Disney that are worse than Color of Night though four of those have already been reviewed (as the worst films of 1992, 1998, 1999 and 2002).  I decided to skip a lot of bad Comedies and instead give me something that’s mind-numbingly stupid in so many ways but has some awesome sex scenes because when you think of Disney, you think of sex, right?  Right?  I mean it is the company that gave us the flashes of topless Jessica Rabbit and the phallic cover on The Little Mermaid.

Here is what I wrote about this film when I gave a capsule review in my 1994 list: “What the hell was I thinking giving this a 34 the first time around?  Was I so blinded by Jane March’s epic sensuality?  This film is insultingly bad, with ridiculous notions of mystery, cops, psychiatry, disguise and even color-blindness.  A disaster in theaters and a big winner at the Razzies, it was a hit on video because you could fast-forward to one of the best sex scenes ever put on film, a masterwork of sensuality and nudity that moves from the pool to the shower to the bed.  It’s about halfway through the film.  That’s all you need to know.  The rest is laughable.  The third, “if you see the Sphinx, it stinks” film on this list.”

I won’t give a detailed plot rundown because who needs one?  This is the film that Maxim Magazine declared had the greatest sex scene of all-time.  But it surrounds it with utter absurdity.  Let’s at least look at the opening of the film when a psychiatric patient basically fellates a gun in a scene she explains to her psychiatrist and then runs over and leaps through a window to commit suicide.  Let’s look at the aspects of that scene.  First, there’s the whole gun aspect which starts like a suicide attempt then just gets bizarre and creepy.  Then there’s the idea that a psychiatrist has an office some 50 floors up in New York City.  What kind of patients does he have if he can pull off the rent in a place like that?  Although, how high up is it, really?  Part of what makes this film so terrible is how badly it’s made and it would probably astound you if I pointed out that the director of the film was once nominated for an Oscar (for The Stunt Man).  Yes, it was taken away and there were competing cuts between the director and the producer but no alternate versions were going to save this.  So, she jumps and we get a shot of her falling.  Then another, but maybe from higher up?  Then another but lower down.  Then we’re back to higher up.  Then we’re somewhere in between.  The film cycles through five different shots of (an obviously fake) body falling through the air and it’s not consistent at all about how high up it started or how high up it is at any given moment.  It’s like a serious attempt at what The Blues Brothers had already done with the Nazi car.  Then the body hits and then we get a slow trickle of blood from her mouth.  Then Willis looks down from his window and sees the body and suddenly gets traumatic color blindness.  Even if we could be expected to believe that the body wouldn’t immediately turn to pulp after falling dozens of stories, the notion that Willis could then look out the window from however high up he is and recognize her down on the ground and be able to see the color of her dress and then be able to come down with psychosomatic color blindness?  Billy Ray, you started out as a shitty screenwriter and I don’t look forward to however you will fuck up your movie about January 6.

So, yes, there’s more to this film but why should you care?  You shouldn’t and you don’t.  While I wasn’t able to get hold of the Blu Ray with commentary (and I wonder what Rush would have had to say), I will say that on the copy I watched, the sex scene starts at almost exactly the one hour mark, gives you full male and female nudity (though a lot more of the female), for some reason shows two men in gliders outside in the middle of it and lasts until roughly the 1:02:30 mark although then Willis is dressed in a suit for dinner and March is still nude and it goes into the shower and continues again until the 1:04 mark.  Is it the greatest sex scene ever in a mainstream film?  No, but to be fair to Maxim, that list was published before Y tu mama tambien and Blue is the Warmest Color were released.

One last thing I will say about this film: it was released in 1994 and it was released by Hollywood Pictures.  Hollywood, as mentioned numerous times here, was a distribution arm of Disney.  But in 1994, Miramax was also a part of the Disney titan and they released a little film called Pulp Fiction.  I’d be hard pressed to find any year in history when one person starred in two such disparate films as Bruce Willis did in 1994, especially two that were released, on one level, by the same studio.

Bonus Review

rockThe Rock

(1996, dir. Michael Bay)

My friend Dane and his girlfriend Jen were not with us when a group of us saw this film on opening day but they saw the film opening day as well.  Apparently it had been a rough day for Jen at work and she was exhausted and the adrenaline thrill-ride that is The Rock was not what she needed.  During the end credits, she turned to Dane and said “Next time, you bring me to a Disney movie after a day like this.”  At the moment up came the line at the end of the credits reading “This motion picture was created by Walt Disney Pictures and Television,” and Dane said “It is a Disney film!”

So The Rock defies the usual ideas when it comes to Disney in two ways.  First, it’s an Action thriller, filled to the brim with adrenaline and pulsing with suspense (and cursing) and that’s not your usual Disney fare.  In fact, that’s why Hollywood Pictures was created, so that Disney could grab a piece of that R rated box office pie without making it obvious to parents that it was Disney and yet the general rule of “If it’s the Sphinx, it stinks” that relates to the vast majority of Hollywood Pictures productions doesn’t apply either because this is actually a fantastic Action film.  Indeed, I rank it as one of the 50 greatest Action films of all-time.

I chose The Rock to review because it fits the standard I have used in the past for this bonus review (film I saw in the theater, released when I was in high school or college).  It actually came out two weeks after I graduated from college in a summer of action packed blockbusters (Twister, Mission: Impossible, Independence Day) and it was by far the best of them even if it was the lowest grossing of those four by a considerable margin.  But as I was watching it, I was struck by what an interesting contrast to Color of Night it is.  That’s because, when looking at the story, this film is almost as completely ridiculous as Color of Night between its notions of the FBI, the U.S. military and what it thinks exists underneath the prison at Alcatraz.  And yet, The Rock is a really good film in spite of all that and possibly because of all of that.  So why is that?

It’s because it’s so ridiculously fun.  It may have the brutal violence of a knife flying through the air and then sticking out of a throat but also Connery’s great line “You must never hesitate.”  It may have a car chase scene that is so destructive that there’s no way the government would make use of this man but it’s also one of the greatest car chases scenes ever filmed with another good Connery line thrown in (“I’m only borrowing your Humvee.”).  It balances maybe the worst performance of Ed Harris’ career (and certainly his worst line reading (“I miss you so much”)) with a Sean Connery performance that is enjoyable to the max and a Nicolas Cage performance that knows exactly how much to bring leading to one of my all-time favorite exchanges: “Your best?  Losers always whine about their best.  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”  “Carla was the prom queen.”  And if the action and the quips weren’t enough, the score is exactly the right type of music to bring you into the adrenaline rush and there’s the genuine fun moment where I started cheering at the notion that Candlestick Park would be blown up complete with blowing up the 49ers and their fans (one of whom was my roommate George sitting next to me in the theater and not nearly as amused).

The fact is, sometimes a ridiculous plot matters and sometimes it doesn’t.  In Color of Night the few minutes of magnificent sex on-screen can’t overcome a film filled to the brim with horrendous acting and a plot that is mind-numbingly stupid that is overflowing with details that are absurd on every level.  Yet, in The Rock, the plot that is also pretty mind-numbingly stupid gets subverted into the incredible fun of the dialogue and the music and even the performances and the action carries you along and you realize you’ve had such a ridiculously good time that you’ve forgotten to be annoyed at how ridiculous it all was.

Since 2011 Screen Shot 2021-06-13 at 4.27.30 PM

History:  There’s irony in the above image.  It’s actually an Over the Hedge strip from 1996 right after Disney bought Capital Cities.  But, of course, they didn’t stop there.  That was long before Disney bought Pixar (though after they had bought the Muppets).  But then came the purchase of Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012) and 20th Century-Fox (2019).  Disney has come to be such a dominant entertainment form that in 2019, while releasing just 10 films (1.27% of all listed films), they accounted for a staggering $3.827 billion dollars at the box office (33.67%).  After leading the box office less than a half-dozen times in all of film history prior to the last decade, Disney lead in seven of the ten years including the last five.  Fox has brought the X-Men and Fantastic Four back into the Marvel Studios fold and the inclusion of Searchlight means that Disney actually now has a Best Picture winner thanks to Nomadland.  Because the first year of the ownership coincided with COVID we haven’t really seen what the future will bring although the trailer down at the bottom seems to indicate that it’s a whole lot of money once movie theaters are back at full strength.


Like Pixar, not owned by Disney (although Pixar was eventually purchased and DreamWorks was not).  In fact, given the history of how DreamWorks was founded in the first place there’s massive irony that it would ever work out a deal with Disney.  But from 2011 to 2016, live action DreamWorks films were released through Disney (the animation division is a separate entity and it’s not a coincidence that they weren’t part of the deal).  While those 13 films accounted for less than 10% of Disney’s box office during those years, it accounted for nearly half of Disney’s Oscar nominations during that stretch (29 out of 64) including all four of Disney’s Best Picture nominations.  They also won three acting Oscars or as many acting Oscars as Disney has won in the rest of its history.

marvel-intro-e1556625768997Marvel Studios

Being bought by Disney was the best thing that ever happened to Marvel especially considering its film situation.  Their rights had been scattered among studios (Columbia had Spider-Man, Fox had X-Men and Fantastic Four, and the first five MCU films were split between Paramount and Universal).  But Disney brought everything in house by the time of The Avengers and started a massive critical and commercial hit that dwarfs almost anything ever brought to film before it.  There will be a lot more about this under the box office.


I honestly thought after Revenge of the Sith that I had seen the last Star Wars film.  But the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney meant a new trilogy of films not to mention stand alone films (and television series).  In the late 00s would you have ever guessed that the highest grossing domestic film would be a new Star Wars film less than ten years later?

By Genre:  New top films for Action (Black Panther), Drama (Lincoln) and Sci-Fi (Rogue One) and new low films for Horror (Empty Man) and Western (Lone Ranger).

All-Time Nighthawk Awards:  Lincoln is the best film, coming in 2nd at Picture and Director, 1st in Adapted Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actress and landing in the Top 5 all-time in Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design.  Actress lands two new Top 5 finishes (Mary Poppins Returns, Saving Mr. Banks).  Aside from that, the Score, Sound, Visual Effects and Sound Editing categories have almost been turned upside down thanks to Force Awakens, Rogue One and Last Jedi.  Visual Effects is really re-written as there have been enough 9 point performances to override everything before 2011.  The Wind Rises lands in the Foreign Film list.

Soundtracks:  Brave, Frozen, Into the Woods, Force Awakens, Rogue One, Moana, Coco, Last Jedi, Mary Poppins Returns, Solo, Rise of Skywalker, Frozen II, Aladdin

Academy Awards:  Though Mary Poppins still has the records, Lincoln comes in second with 415 points and 12 noms.  Black Panther becomes just the third Disney film to win at least 3 Oscars.  The streak continues and Disney has won an Oscar every year since 2001.  Of the 41 Disney films to earn Oscar noms since 2011, 13 earned an Animated Film, 17 earned a Visual Effects nom, 7 earned a Costume Design nom (no overlap on any of those) and then there are Saving Mr. Banks, Bridge of Spies, Frozen II and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  Thanks to the short-lived Disney distribution of DreamWorks live action films, Spielberg made four films for Disney and while one earned no Oscar noms the other three earned a combined 24 noms including Best Picture noms for all three.  Black Panther earned 7 noms and 3 Oscars; all the other MCU films combined have earned Disney just 9 noms (eight of them in Visual Effects) and no Oscars.  Then, if you count Spotlight as Disney (which I do but I doubt anyone else does), Nomadland won Best Picture and Best Director, two firsts for Disney.

Critics:  Once again, Lincoln had a new record (669 points) which were crushed by Nomadland (1066 points).

Golden Globes:  Except for Lincoln (7 noms, 290 points), it’s mostly been about winning Animated Film (6 wins since 2011).  At least until Nomadland which won Picture and Director even if it had fewer points (265).

BAFTA:  Three films have earned over 300 points at the BAFTAs since 2011 though none beat 400: Nomadland (395), Lincoln (315), Bridge of Spies (310).

Guild:  This is where Lincoln shines the highest with 440 points, far more than Black Panther (295), Nomadland (275) or Soul (240).

CC:  Both Lincoln (490 points) and Nomadland (380 points) finished at the top for their respective years though Lincoln did it without winning Picture.  Black Panther (330) also did well.

All Awards:  Lincoln crushes everything.  It almost doubles anything else in points (2390) and noms (64) and has 19 wins and 12.17% and is the only Disney film to finish #1 in awards points in its year.  But then, because Nomadland is a Spotlight film (which is now owned by Disney), it passes Lincoln in three of those (2548, 30 wins, 12.34%) and also finishes 1st though it’s a distant second to Lincoln in noms with 43.  Bridge of Spies (1042, 31 noms, 5.21%) and Black Panther (874, 32 noms, 11 wins) also make various Top 10 lists.  Coco with 15 wins is in the Top 5 but then it was beaten by Soul (17).


My original plan was to include every Disney film and rank them all because I have actually seen them all.  But, in the interest of space and readability, they have been moved to two posts later.

Box Office

The reason that the ranks are two posts later is because I have also moved the Box Office.  Disney has a long and interesting history when it comes to box office and it deserves a full post of its own.  So that will be the next post.

The Future2005-06-13 - monsters and us

I’ve always had kind of a complicated relationship with Disney.  In one sense, I grew up in the worst era for Disney.  In the prime era for loving Disney films (ages 3-13), I was already obsessed with Star Wars, Disney released far less interesting films (and less often) and I didn’t get a VCR until I was almost 12 so I had no chance to catch the classic films on video.  I went to see Mary Poppins in the theater when I was 5 in a re-release and I have vague memories of seeing Bambi and Dumbo as a kid but most of what I knew of the films actually came from my Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney book set.  When The Little Mermaid was released in 1989, I was 15 and I thought it was for kids and only when I saw it on video and loved it so much I watched it three more times before returning it did I realize what Disney could have in store.  So I saw the animated films released through the 90s (in fact I took Mary Hawkins to see Beauty and the Beast on my first date) but Disney was also releasing a lot of crap between Touchstone and Hollywood and by the early 00s, I was more cynical with films like Pearl Harbor and the animation having dropped again, aside from Pixar (which wasn’t yet actually owned by Disney), I wasn’t that interested.  But then, of course they picked up two things that were actually a big part of my life in those ages where most people are into Disney: Marvel and Star Wars.  And suddenly a massive amount of my disposable income was, in some sense, going to Disney.

And of course Disney has always been more than the films.  When I was six, just after we moved to California, having been told it was too expensive to go to Disneyland very often even though it was only two miles away, I set out to convince them that their prices were too high for kids and they needed to be cheaper and I started to walk there barefoot (my brother caught up to me two blocks away – I had left a note as to what I was doing).  I went to Disneyland once a year almost every year through elementary school.

Even today, so much of what is key about Disney isn’t the films themselves.  We watch Disney+ everyday, having watched out way through The Simpsons (now owned by Disney) and now working our way through the new DuckTales and The Muppet Show (now owned by Disney).  Indeed, I am about to pause writing this so Veronica and I can watch the second episode of Loki before we start work for the day so that the Internet won’t ruin it for us by the time we get home to watch it.  That’s after doing the same for The Mandalorian, WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  Then there’s Pixar.  Pixar, which Thomas loves wholeheartedly, manages to release a film the weekend of his birthday every year.  Today they are releasing Luca (straight to Disney+) and his birthday is Sunday.  Thanks to a decade where one of my closest friends worked at Pixar combined with Thomas being born, Pixar has been a major part of his life from the day he was born and we got so much free stuff over the years that I can’t even find it all.

Right now, Disney sits at the top.  There was a chart published today that showed that after six months, Netflix has almost no traction of people looking up their movies online but Disney’s movies still go strong.  Yes, they are a massive all-encompassing brand and some of it is awful but so much of it is so well done.  Yes, it’s a lot of products for consumers but I am interested in that product.  From 2016 to 2019 not only did their films gross a staggering $12 billion (from just 41 films in spite of a couple of those being nature films and a couple of them being duds) but they average over a 78 in spite of the duds (Alice Through the Looking Glass, On Stranger Tides, Nutcracker and the Four Realms) and even those films looked beautiful.  It might be frightening that Disney is the future but I’m honestly optimistic for this future.