Dawson gets his CMOA when he shouts at Basil who is currently going through a Heroic BSOD:
"Dash it all, Basil, the Queen's in danger, Olivia's counting on us, we're about to be horribly splatted, and all you can do is lie there feeling sorry for yourself! I know you can save us. But if you've given up, then why don't we just set it off now and be done with it?!"
Basil: "Heh. Set it off now." (beat) "Set it. Off. Now? Yes, ha ha! That is it! We'll set the trap off now!"
He gets out of disguise, and with great cheer says, "Thank you, Dawson. Smile, everyone!"
Even without the context, this is still a moment of awesome, showing off just how Crazy Awesome Basil can be.
Ratigan kills a drunk mouse for calling him a "rat."
"Oh, my dear Bartholomew, I'm afraid that you've gone and upset me. You know what happens when someone upsets me..."
Also, Ratigan verbal-owning Basil. Vincent Price's maliciously cheerful voice makes it all the more awesome.
"Frankly, I expected you fifteen minutes earlier. Trouble with the chemistry set, old boy?"
"You have no idea what a delightful dilemma it was, trying to decide on the most apporpriate method for your demise. I had so many ingenious ideas, I didn't know which to choose! So... I decided... to use them all."
Ratigan deserves one for listening to Basil press his Berserk Button and, judging by the look on his face, taking a lot of self-control not to jump on Basil and maul him right there.
"Ratigan, no-one can have a higher opinion of you than I do... and I think you're a slimy, contemptible sewer rat!"
Ratigan threatens to feed Flaversham to Felicia if he doesn't finish the Queen robot in time. Flaversham then becomes so angry that he manhandles the in-progress robot in a way that causes it to squirt oil on Ratigan's coat. The following line ensues.
"You can do what you want with me! I won't be a part of this-this-this evil any longer!"
Becomes a heartwarming moment combined with tearjerker when Ratigan realizes that Flaversham really is willing to die rather than commit this crime...and so instead threatens the life of his daughter, after which Flaversham complies with Ratigan's demands.
"SEWER RAT!" Complete with a finger-point that Phoenix Wright himself would be proud of. It's a potent mix of Awesome, Heartwarming and Funny. Basil taking control of the robot queen and using it to give Ratigan a blistering"The Reason You Suck" Speech while making the robot expose itself as such, Olivia happily reuniting with her father, and Dawson and even the Queen tying up Ratigan's henchman.
The ending of the movie: not only did they play up the Reichenbach Falls story (complete with a Disney Death for their Holmes stand-in), but the way the movie changes from a madcap, comedic mystery into a breathtaking chase sequence, a climactic fight inside the Clock Tower of Parliament, the Nightmare Fuel of Ratigan's evil transformation into a crazed killer rat, and finally Basil's clever usage of Big Ben striking to topple the villain to his death (all of it with a very effective musical score) is simply incredible. Most people who talk about the Disney Renaissance say it began with The Little Mermaid, but just as many contend that The Great Mouse Detective should be the real beginning, or at least that the seeds of it were planted here. (The movie, while vastly entertaining, does perhaps pale a bit compared to what followed it.) This ending sequence may be one reason why it deserves such an inclusion.
Plus, that sequence marked the first time CGI was used by the feature animation department. The gears were computer animated then traced by hand.