The success of A New Hope lies in defeating the authoritarian rule by proving one person ultimately matters even against incalculable odds.
Revenge of the Sith pays off two movies worth of political maneuvering, delivering thematically and with its action.
Overwhelmed by the pitiful romance at its core, it's easy to miss or undervalue Attack of the Clones for certain storytelling successes.
Decades removed from the hype, Phantom Menace makes its thematic purpose clear, if unseated by misguided execution.
Although following a template, Pixar adds unique touches of their own in A Bug's Life, including a subtly brilliant credit sequence.
Wall-E is eerily prophetic over a decade later, plus wonderfully entertaining without feeling overly preachy.
While Beauty and the Beast isn't without problematic elements, it's also a film that turns its heroine independent and proud to be herself.
Frozen II, on its surface, doesn't alter modern animation's form, but its story embraces the fight against historical revisionism.
While the first film twisted Sleeping Beauty lore into something unique, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil boils over into a modern political debate.
While still producing a pure fantasy romance, there's an honesty to Princess and the Frog's fable that's often missing in Disney animation.
While familiar, safe, and even predictable in its method, Rise of Skywalker does what's needed to close a saga concerned with totalitarians and the families who fight back.
Bringing Christmas spirit to a cold, corporate world, The Santa Clause brings gooey sentimentality to a family story, but that works in context.