Quality of Character
Aurora earns the distinctive honor of being the highest scored of the old-school princesses and the only to break into the top ten. Let's be honest though, it's not because of anything she did. Aurora on her own is famous for having the least amount of dialogue of pretty much any Disney Princess ever (she spends most of the movie sleeping, it's not just a clever title). She is nice to animals and to her guardian fairy family. She also doesn't do a whole lot I can fault her for. Does she fall in love with a man that she's just met? Yes, but like Anna, she's been severely sheltered so I can't really hold it against her too much. When she pricks her finger, it's because she's bewitched, not because she does anything stupid or signs her life away in a contract she doesn't read *ahem*. So while this score is pretty low, Aurora finds herself surging to this high rank because of the categories below.
Overall Film Quality
This was the Disney movie on heavy rotation at my house as a kid. My dad was always fond of criticizing this film, citing the fact that the animation wasn't particularly good. I'll acknowledge that, visually, there's not a whole lot of awesome happening. It's really about the way all the characters come together to tell the story. Sleeping Beauty is approached so differently from the other princess movies, it's hard for it not to stand out. There's some really great dialogue going on between the fairies and, of course, her holiness-err-I mean Maleficent. The impressive score in this category is awarded for seriously solid storytelling that continues to stand the test of time and hold up to repeat viewings.
Aurora is one of only two ladies on this countdown who gets to score her love interest in the A category (90 or above). Prince Phillip is a wonder, especially considering he came from the old guard. He also gets WAY more screen time than Aurora (it's almost his movie!). Phillip introduces us to the wonderful things that can happen when it comes to on-screen chemistry between a man and his snarky steed. Speaking of snark, Phillip is chock full-o that, too. His family wants him to marry Aurora, whom he's betrothed to, but when he falls in love with Briar Rose he stands up to his family and goes against tradition to follow his heart. He has to fight a MAGIC DRAGON (sure he has help from some fairies but, come on, that's not something just anybody would do for a girl he barely knows). He's also incredibly charming, and he can sing and dance. Sounds about perfect to me. To hell with Prince Charming, I spent my childhood waiting for my Prince Phillip to come.
I awarded very few perfect scores in any category over the course of this countdown. Aurora gets one of them for this category. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are such richly realized characters, full of spunk and personality. There's just no denying the perfection that is Maleficent. She's one of the most fully-realized and fascinating villains to ever grace the screen. She's oddly sympathetic, full of quotable lines, and outfitted to demonic perfection. When I was looking for a clip to add for this movie, with the other ladies I tried to find one that embodied the character of the heroine. Aurora is such a non-entity, so I chose to include the scene that I feel really sets Sleeping Beauty apart from the competitors. Maleficent captures Prince Philip, then decides to taunt him with this little vision of the future. It is STONE. COLD. It still gives me goose bumps.
The music is wonderful, I just wish there was more of it. When Aurora's voice rings out over the forest, Mary Costa totally sells you on the idea that this girl was blessed with the gift of song in her cradle. I couldn't, in fairness, give a huge score, because... Sleeping Beauty kind of cheats and borrows a lot of its wonderful score from Tchaikovsky's original compositions. I also acknowledge that I'm extremely biased toward Tchaikovsky, so I tried to score this category really hard so I wouldn't be accused of playing favorites. Who am I kidding, this whole list is subjective.
As a little girl I thought this dress is great. Now? It's kinda funny looking. Those weird pointy shoulders? Yick. I also fundamentally object to the fact that Disney only seems to market the dress in pink, when it was BOTH pink and blue in the film.
**DISCLAIMER** I do not own any of the likenesses of these heroines. All characters/likenesses are the property of Disney, and are not being used here for financial gain ****