When I first heard about Walt Disney's short-film The Little Matchgirl, it was about a year or so ago on Animation World Network and VFX World. I wasn't sure where I'd be able to see it, and soon thereafter forgot about it entirely. Then the other day someone sent me a link to the film on youtube, after having not thought about it in months. (Why didn't I think of searching it on youtube sooner?) I was instantly taken by the animated short. Based on a Danish fairy tale written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1848. (Who also brought to us tales such as The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, and the Ugly Duckling). The film tells the story of a young girl who suffers a cold winter night with only her matches on New Years Eve. This film is perfect for the holidays, though I must warn you, it may bring on the tears.
The gorgeous film combines traditional hand-drawn animation with some computer graphics, to bring the story to life. Watching this film made me wish that Disney would return to 2d feature animation, with pure storytelling at it's heart. Obviously this film would not work as well if it were done completely with computer graphics and the fact that it's set to music in the theme of Fantasia/2000 rather than the overly-talky voices of contemporary animation, makes this short, and the other last Disney shorts of the 2D era, pure genius.
Another short-film that I had heard about (but never had a chance to see until now), is Disney's One By One. The short flew under the radar amid the saturation of Disney's animated sequels, appearing on The Lion King 2, DVD. The story follows a group of kids finding joy in the simplest of things: flying Kites.