There is no talk of finding Moana a husband. SHE is going to be chief of her village. No one can take that from her.
How Moana is a competent leader before she even sets out on her journey.
The village seems to have more or less a hereditary monarchy that disregards gender and the matriarchal influence is clear: Moana is mostly inspired by her grandmother and the major deity in this movie is a Mother Goddess.
“Crazy” does not mean worthy of ridicule.
The central questions: “Do you know who you are? How do you know who you are?” Those cut deep.
The sibling relationship between Moana and Maui.
The vision about the ancient wayfinders. And “Know the Way,” which makes the entire sequence a million times more emotional.
This might be a Disney Princess movie, but it is also solidly an action movie.
Moana doesn’t like being called “princess”.
The goddamn gold-plated glow-in-the-dark giant crab. Who sings well.
Forehead touches. Between a human girl and a goddess.
The fact that Heihei manages to do ONE USEFUL THING in the entire movie.
Moana is so sturdily built. She managed to clock Maui, of all people.
Nature has agency.
How Gramma Tala’s passing is quietly understated. Her last words to Moana are those of sincere encouragement and her death is not explicitly shown. But you see the huge luminous manta ray a couple minutes later and you just know.
The entire sequence at the beginning that depicts island life. And Chris Jackson’s singing. Everyone’s singing, really.
Moana gulping deep lungfuls of air the first time her canoe overturned is so realistic, I could feel myself choking on ocean water.
The coconut pirates. They are VICIOUS little fuckers.
Moana earning a place among Maui’s tattoos.
Gramma Tala’s spirit is solid enough to hug. No more “LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF SIMBA” from the clouds.
Disney smashing the fourth wall and throwing shade at their own Princess story formula.
Romance is never ever ever even hinted at. Because Moana is all of 16 years old and she has bigger things on her mind.
All the songs. ALL OF THEM. They hit just the right emotional cues.
How culturally rich Disney managed to make this movie.
The sheer vividness of the animation. The wealth of expression on the faces of these characters. The colors.