#6 Dumbo, 1941
Anyone who’s ever been made fun of can relate to Dumbo. He has enormous ears and is very awkward. What’s worse, Dumbo blames himself for causing his mother’s capture. The scene in which Mrs. Dumbo cradles him in her trunk from behind bars and rocks him to sleep makes even the most stoic viewers melt. But with a little help from Timothy Q. Mouse (and an unmentioned bottle of champagne that just happens to spill into a water bucket) Dumbo discovers his ability to fly. Suddenly, his gargantuan ears are his greatest assets. Like many sad movies, though, it has a happy ending. A perfect morality tale for anyone who’s ever been unhappy with themselves.
#5 Up, 2009
The genius of Pixar films is the way in which they work seamlessly on levels that thrill and move both kids and adults. It’s sometimes hard to tell what is the subtext. Take Up, for example. Near the beginning of this Best Picture–nominated film lies a four-minute sequence that introduces the main character, Carl, and his wife, Ellie. A short film within the film, the sequence sketches out their long marriage, complete with all the happiness and disappointments that any decades-long partnership will hold. At the end, Ellie dies and leaves Carl a lonely old man. It’s a crushingly bittersweet sequence, and one hesitates to even include it on this list because of the fear that many kids might not have actually gotten it.