10. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
Genre: Musical, fantasy
What it’s about: A farm girl and her dog get swept away by a big tornado and are transported to a magical land. As they try to make their way home, they run into strange and magical creatures who teach them some valuable lessons.
What makes it a classic: The Wizard of Oz teaches many beautiful life lessons, including valuing your friends and family, and recognising your power to change things. And who can forget the iconic line, “there’s no place like home”?
9. The Sound of Music (1965)
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer
Genre: Musical, drama
What it’s about: The Sound of Music is set in 1938 Austria and tells the story of a young nun-to-be who gets assigned as the new governess to seven (naughty) children belonging to a stern former navy captain. The film follows the family as they grow to love each other, learn the beauty of music, and escape capture by the Nazis.
What makes it a classic: The film – considered one of the greatest musicals of all time – contains some of the most memorable songs produced in the last century, including ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’, ‘My Favourite Things’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘So Long, Farewell’, and ‘Edelweiss’.
8. E.T. (1982)
Starring: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore
Genre: Science fiction
What it’s about: A ten-year-old boy discovers an alien, E.T., in his backyard. Slowly, the two form a bond and become best friends. When he learns that E.T. must return home, he does everything in his power to help the alien.
What makes it a classic: E.T. is a coming of age film that tacitly tackles what it means to be a child affected by their parents’ divorce. It’s also got some of the most iconic images of the ‘80s – like the silhouette of the kids biking past the moon with E.T. in the basket.
7. The Lion King (1994)
Starring: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg
Genre: Animated, musical
What it’s about: Simba is a young lion cub who is heir to the animal kingdom. When his uncle orchestrates the death of his father to become king, Simba must choose between running away from who he is and facing his destiny.
What makes it a classic: The Lion King birthed dozens of classic songs, including ‘Circle of Life’, ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’, ‘Hakuna Matata’, and ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’.
The Lion King was one of those rare, funny kids’ movies that also hit where it hurts the most. Mufasa’s demise was probably most ‘90s kids’ first introduction to fictional death. Who remembers sitting in the cinema with tear-soaked cheeks?
6. Toy Story (1995)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen
Genre: Animated, comedy
What it’s about: Toy Story follows cowboy toy Woody and space ranger Buzz Lightyear as they compete for their owner Andy’s attention and try to get along when they accidentally find themselves far from home.
What makes it a classic: With Toy Story, Pixar completely changed the game for children’s movies, and ushered in the era of computer-animated movies. But technological advancements aside, Toy Story is a classic kids’ movie because it pays tribute to childhood, the joy of toys, and the importance of friendship.
5. Jumanji (1995)
Starring: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
What it’s about: Before Jumanji became a video game in the 2017 reboot, Welcome to the Jungle, it was first a board game. Siblings Peter and Judy discover the game in their attic and start a game. They soon discover that Jumanji is no ordinary board game. With each roll of the dice, they must face unimaginable threats, from wild animals to relentless hunters.
What makes it a classic: When Jumanji was released in 1996, it captured the imagination of millions of kids. Who didn’t wish their board games would suddenly come to life? And you know what else makes this popular film a classic? It stars one of the greatest comedic actors of all time: Robin Williams.
4. Matilda (1996)
Starring: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito
Genre: Comedy, fantasy
What it’s about: A precocious little girl with awful parents discovers she has magical powers. Growing angered by the evil deeds of her parents and her school principal, and empowered by the kindness of her teacher Miss Honey, Matilda learns to harness her powers and stand up for herself and her friends.
What makes it a classic: The film is filled with magic, mischief, and mayhem – three things every kid wishes they had more of in their lives! It’s also chock-full of unforgettable moments, like the messy cake-eating incident!
3. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Richard Harris, Richard Griffiths, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters
What it’s about: An 11-year-old boy named Harry discovers that not only is he a wizard, he’s also the sole wizard to survive an attack by the most powerful dark wizard in the world: Voldemort. As Harry enters wizarding school and learns how to use magic, he must deal with the looming threat of Voldemort’s return.
What makes it a classic: The popularity of the Harry Potter franchise is unlike any other, and this is owed largely to the success of the first film, which brought JK Rowling’s magical world to life on the big screen.
2. Lilo and Stitch (2002)
Starring: Chris Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere
Genre: Animated, Sci-fi, adventure, comedy-drama
What it’s about: A lonely outcast befriends a chaotic alien who’s on the run. The friendship drives a wedge between the young girl and her older sister, who’s working to make ends meet and trying to maintain her status as her sister’s legal guardian. Meanwhile, the alien is being chased down by its creator and an intergalactic federation, which views him as a threat to humanity.
What makes it a classic: Despite its out-of-this-world plot, Lilo and Stitch’s story is quite grounded. It deals with the very real issue of surviving as young orphans and portrays all the complications of sisterhood. And let’s not forget that it features a mainly female and POC cast!
1. Finding Nemo (2003)
Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe
Genre: Animated, adventure
What it’s about: Young clownfish Nemo defies his father’s advice on his first day of school. As a result, he gets captured by a diver and is transported far away from his home. Determined to rescue his son, Marlin employs the help of a forgetful blue fish named Dory, some sharks, a family of sea turtles, and other creatures to find Nemo.
What makes it a classic: Finding Nemo is a heartwarming tale of the great lengths a father will go to rescue his son. It’s also a tale of learning to let go and trusting your children as they grow older. For kids, it’s a great peek into the mind of a parent. Overall, Finding Nemo speaks to both kids and parents alike, making it one of the best family movies of all time.