Best Kids’ Movies Through the Decades

by in Family

4 Tips to Improve Mompreneur EfficiencyAt the end of a long week filled with juggling work, Momhood, housework, and life in general, all I want to do is just relax.

So, Friday night is our designated family movie night (if there's no soccer game, Boy Scout meeting, birthday party or something else going on.)  To me, there's nothing more relaxing than making some popcorn and chilling with the kiddos while we watch whatever movie that they've picked out (also known as “Mom, it's the best movie ever”).

When it comes to kids movies, there is some fierce competition on what is considered the best of all time.

While the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz” tops Movie Fone's “25 Best Kids' Movies of All Time,” your little movie lovers might disagree. They may even try making the case that the imaginary world of “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” or the catchy tunes of “Frozen” are much more entertaining than the Technicolor wonderland of flying monkeys, singing Munchkins and a yellow brick road.

But, no matter if your little one loves the classics or prefers to stick to modern family favorites, Hollywood does not disappoint.

Here's my list of some of the best kids' movies from the 1970s to today:


“Freaky Friday” (1976): The body swap plot has been done several times throughout the decades, but it all started with Jodie Foster and her on-screen mom magically trading bodies in “Freaky Friday.” This story line allows kids to think about how others live and better understand them. The movie shows valuable life lessons that you can discuss with your kids.


“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982): Movie magic at its best, Steven Spielberg’s 1982 epic sci-fi adventure is a snapshot of childhood. The touching tale of E.T., Elliott and Gertie is a timeless story of growing up and friendship. The movie allows imaginations of all ages to come out and play.

“The Goonies” (1985): The '80s gave us so many kids adventure movies that it’s hard to choose one to define the decade. But “The Goonies” has to be on this list because it has become a cult classic over the years. It’s another Steven Spielberg film that takes a group of childhood friends on a journey for treasure only to find themselves in precarious situations.


“Matilda” (1996): Kids love fantasy and magic, especially when the star is an intelligent little girl who retaliates against the mean adults in her life using special telekinetic powers. The awarded film has received critical acclaim and is now showing on Broadway due to its huge popularity.


“Finding Nemo” (2003): This 2003 PIXAR film is full of eye-popping color, enlightening adventure, humor and life lessons for children.

“Elf” (2003): The sweet and naïve human boy, Buddy, is raised in the North Pole by Santa and his elves. Upon realizing that his real father is out there, he makes the trip to New York City in search of him and finds himself experiencing the delights of human life and, eventually, love. This is a hilarious holiday film for the whole family.


“Despicable Me” (2010): The most lovable supervillain ever, Gru, wants to steal the moon. But his plan is slowly thwarted by three adorable orphans who want him as a daddy. The minions also capture the hearts of movie watchers nationwide. The branded merchandise from this film is sure to blanket kids’ backpacks and bedrooms for decades to come.

“The Lego Movie” (2014): While both movie selections for this decade are animated, they are both joyful and visually groundbreaking works of art that remind kids to laugh, play, have compassion and just be silly. Oh, and “Everything is Awesome!

There are countless other amazing kids’ films, including “Big,” “Star Wars,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Toy Story,” “Home Alone,” “Harry Potter” and “Mary Poppins.” The list goes on and on.

Make your own list of must-sees, and plan movie date nights with the family each week to catch up on the best kids movies of all time.

Use your best judgment when it comes to age-appropriate ratings. Some of these selections might be fine for a nine-year-old but not necessarily for a four-year-old. (See Common Sense Media for info on films and ratings.)

What are you favorite kids' movies?

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About the Author - Missy Ward

Missy Ward has been an affiliate marketer since 1999. In 2003, she co-founded Affiliate Summit Corporation; which is now a privately-held, multi-million dollar media company that produces Conferences & Tradeshows, FeedFront Magazine, and is also the Co-Founder of, Founder of and runs a number of her own affiliate websites. Find out more about her on Missy Ward's Affiliate Marketing Blog.If she's not making money through affiliate links on the post you're currently reading, it's an oversight on her part and it will be corrected soon.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen G. July 29, 2015 at 5:49 pm

I’d also recommend ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and ‘The Navigator’. Our kids are a little older now, but those were big favorites when they were little. Now, they love ‘The Fifth Element’ and all the Marvel movies.


Missy Ward July 29, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Great selections, Karen! And yes, my boys love all the Marvel movies and TV shows. In fact, we’ve all been binge-watching Agents of Shield on Netflix.


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