"The Nightmare Before Christmas" still holds up more than 25 years later, as either a Christmas or Halloween movie.
Jack Skellington is the main character in "A Nightmare Before Christmas." Buena Vista PicturesWhat it's about: Jack Skellington (voiced by composer Danny Elfman) and the rest of his brood are brought to vivid life in this landmark stop-motion animation musical from Tim Burton and director Henry Selick. It centers on Jack as he ventures outside the confines of his beloved Halloweentown and into the world of Christmastown, eventually kidnapping Santa and taking over for St. Nick.
Why you should watch: As '90s nostalgia goes, this one is an all-timer. The songs are as catchy as the story is heartfelt, and Burton and Selick are at the top of their game here, with one of the most beloved and essential movies Disney's ever made.
"Home Alone" is a must-watch, especially around this time of year.
Macaulay Culkin stars in "Home Alone." FoxWhat it's about: Writer John Hughes ("The Breakfast Club") and director Chris Columbus teamed up for this '90s hit about Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), a bratty 8-year-old who gets stranded in his Chicago home after his parents and family accidentally leave on a trip to Paris without him. As Kevin's mom (the great Catherine O'Hara) struggles to get back to her kid, Kevin must literally defend his home from two stupid-but-determined thieves.
Why you should watch: Who hasn't seen this movie already? "Home Alone," despite some creaky story elements and dated '90s fashion and hairstyles, still holds up today — thanks in large part to Culkin's star-making turn and the script's surprisingly moving story line involving Kevin bonding with his neighborhood's resident misunderstood old man. While "Home Alone's" sappy elements are hard to ignore, they blend well with the film's now-iconic brand of slapstick humor.
Under appreciated when released in theaters, "The Rocketeer" managed to find an audience as a throwback adventure film.
"The Rocketeer" is set in the 1930s. ScreenshotWhat it's about: Joe Johnston ("Honey, I Shrunk The Kids") directs this pulp-y adventure based on the classic comic and inspired by the same serials that gave us Indiana Jones. Pilot Cliff Seacord (the effortlessly charming Billy Campbell) finds and straps on an experimental rocket pack as he struggles to save his girl (Jennifer Connelly) from mobsters and Nazis in 1930s California.
Why you should watch: While "The Rocketeer" flopped upon its initial theatrical release, it developed a fiercely loyal fan following over the years, and for good reason: It's a fun, visually impressive adventure film that the studio — or any studio — just doesn't make anymore. And the HD transfer on Disney Plus looks amazing — perfect for drawing in a new generation of fans.
Almost 30 years later, 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" still ranks among the greatest movies ever made.
The original "Beauty and the Beast" was released in 1991. DisneyWhat it's about: One of the greatest Disney films ever made, the story of Belle and Beast's romance is a timeless one. It's your classic tale of girl meets boy, with the part of "boy" being played by a lonely beast trapped for years in the ruins of his castle after being cursed by a witch. It's also the first animated film to ever score a best picture nomination at the Academy Awards.
Why you should watch: Skip the over-produced, underwhelming 2017 live-action CG remake and rewatch the original. The 2D animation, mixed with some early CG efforts, still holds up —as does Belle and Beast's romance and many of the film's signature tunes.
"Aladdin" set a high standard of quality and entertainment for both Disney and the genre.
Robin Williams voiced a character in the original "Aladdin" film. DisneyWhat it's about: Twenty-seven years later, we still can't get "Friend Like Me" out of our heads. As Genie, Robin Williams' voice work-only performance here is one of his best, as his brand of manic humor is a perfect fit for this classic Disney adventure about our titular hero's journey from beggar and thief to hero, as he falls for Princess Jasmine and must save her from the love-to-hate baddie Jafar.
Why you should watch: The 2019 remake is, well, it's a thing that exists. But it's nowhere near as charming and entertaining as the 1992 original. The transfer on Disney Plus is arguably the best the film has ever looked.
If there's anything better than Whoopi singing "Ave Maria" in "Sister Act," we don't wanna know about it.
Whoopi Goldberg (center) star in "Sister Act."What it's about: On the run from her murderous mobster boyfriend, Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) must leave her life as a Vegas lounge singer behind and go into witness protection as a nun in a very strict convent. Naturally, she upends the sisters' entire way of life with her infectious personality and reinvigorates their stalled church choir with her unique, foot-tapping mix of classic hymnals and oldies tunes.
Why you should watch: We miss high-concept, "only-in-the-movies" '90s comedies like this. Once you get past the suspension of disbelief required to accept a plot like this, "Sister Act" quickly and effortlessly wins you over. Whoopi has never been better, and the movie's showstopping songs are still a high note.
If you like baseball and hilarious comedies starring very likable kids, then you'll love "The Sandlot."
"The Sandlot" was released in 1993. 20th Century FoxWhat it's about: Both an endearing coming-of-age comedy and a great baseball movie, "The Sandlot" centers on the new kid in town struggling to make friends but ultimately finding a family with the help of their hilarious and rose-colored take on America's greatest past time.
Why you should watch: Another '90s movie that overcame tepid box office response to become a pop-culture staple, "The Sandlot" eventually found its audience via endless cable airings, video store rentals, and passionate word-of-mouth. If you haven't seen the movie, or are looking for one that's perfect for the whole family, watch it.
"The Lion King" is a classic that only gets better with age.
"The Lion King" was just remade into a CGI film. DisneyWhat it's about: The story of Simba's rise from young lion cub to heroic ruler is iconic, as are the Disney animators' brilliant visuals that accompany some of the best tunes to ever appear in an animated film.
Why you should watch: It's "The Lion King." Sure, this past summer's CG remake was a billion-dollar blockbuster, but the choice to render our animal characters closer to their real-life counterparts robbed the movie of the emotional/human element the original has in spades. Nothing beats the OG "Lion King."
The first two "Toy Story" movies are some of the best films Disney has ever made.
"Toy Story" features the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Disney PixarWhat it's about: Pixar made movie history with their first CG animated feature in 1995 and its hit 1999 sequel. The first two adventures of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of their sentient toy friends set the standard of narrative and visual quality that would make the Pixar brand, well, Pixar.
Why you should watch: The entire "Toy Story" trilogy is available on the service, and all are worth watching. But attention must be paid to the first two films' impressive execution of emotional storytelling amid eye-dropping visuals and exciting, blockbuster set pieces.
Animated movies don't get much more progressive than 1998's "Mulan"
Eddie Murphy voices a dragon in "Mulan." Disney/"Mulan"What it's about: As Disney ramps up the marketing on their 2020 remake, it's a perfect time to revisit the classic source material. "Mulan" puts the Chinese legend through the lens of the tail-end of Disney's animated Renaissance period, telling an epic adventure about a girl forced to impersonate a male warrior in order to fight for and save her people.
Why you should watch: Eddie Murphy's clearly going for a Robin Williams as Genie vibe here voicing Mushu the Dragon, but the performance and humor are more miss than hit. But the progressive story is just as relevant now as it was 21 years ago.
We forever stan "10 Things I Hate About You," one of our favorite Shakespeare adaptations.
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles starred in "10 Things I Hate About You." Buena Vista PicturesWhat it's about: In 1999, Disney's Touchstone label pushed the PG-13 teen comedy boundary with this endlessly quotable, "Clueless"-esque adaptation of "The Taming of the Shrew." When the new kid at school (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for out-of-his-league Bianca, he has to get around her father's strict rules on dating and enlist bad boy Patrick (the late Heath Ledger) to court Bianca's brash sister, Kat (Julia Styles). It culminates in a tear jerking finale that sees Kat recite her titular poem to Patrick.
Why you should watch: "10 Things" made instant stars out if its young cast, thanks to their effortless chemistry and the script's clever dialogue. Watching them only makes the movie's time capsule quality more endearing, and it's definitely a staple of '90s teen comedies.