Pixar have a long and glorious history in animation. Many cherished childhood memories come from the studio that bought us classics such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Pixar pushed CG animation into the mainstream thanks to a string of fantastic family films that define the genre. They’ve seen imitators, drops in quality and those fighting for the animation crown come and go. What is their best film though? Their worst? This definitive* list will answer these questions and so many more. Now quiet, musical hog, and get on to the list.
*Other lists are available, but they’re probably not as good as this one.
17. Cars 2
Cars 2 found Pixar at their lowest ebb, delivering a hugely lacklustre sequel to what was already considered by many to be their worst film. It never knew what it wanted to be, with a plot that was neither here nor there backed up by tame jokes and lame action sequences. In my opinion not only their worst, but also the only truly awful film they have ever made.
16. Finding Dory
Another lacklustre sequel, but by no means a bad film. Finding Dory lacks the emotional depth and impact of the original. There are some bright moments in the film however, but this is further evidence that the once invincible company has lost their way somewhat. Find my review here.
15. The Good Dinosaur
The Good Dinosaur divided opinion upon release. People either seemed to love or hate the touching tale of a friendship between a dinosaur and a human child. I found the film to be charming enough without being revolutionary. It treaded well-worn paths, but at least it trod them with confidence. The spectacular backdrops certainly deserve to be seen, at least. Find my review here.
Pixar entered a brave new territory with this one. Brave saw the venerated studio tackle the fairytale princess film that their owners, Disney, had developed and mastered over the years. While not quite as memorable as the genres best, nor as high quality as most Pixar productions, it was an enjoyable film full of likable characters and incredible animation.
Cars doesn’t deserve the hate it gets. In my opinion people say they hate it because it is about talking cars, therefore it cannot be good. Why is a film about talking cars any worse an idea than a film about talking toys or talking bugs? If you dig a little deeper into the film, it offers much more than a comedy about cars living and talking like humans. It’s funny, heart-warming and exciting, precisely what you’d want from a family movie.
12. Monsters University
This prequel may not be as good as the original Monsters Inc, but it’s often hilarious and gets surprisingly deep. The animation is top-notch, too, featuring some incredible lighting effects in particular. A raucous, fun ride for the whole family, Monsters University is guaranteed to give you more than a few laughs at least. Find my review here.
11. A Bug’s Life
A Bug’s Life is often remembered as Pixar’s early film that isn’t as good as Toy Story. I think it deserves a bit more credit. Sure, it’s no Toy Story, but very few things are. The Magnificent 7 storyline works really well and the writers got a lot of mileage out of the cast of insects. It’s funny throughout and needs to be remembered by its own merits.
10. Inside Out
Pixar’s best since Toy Story 3, Inside Out offers everything you love about Pixar films. It’s wonderfully animated, good fun and incredibly well written. The idea behind the film is slightly better than the execution however, as once again Inside Out finds Pixar re-treading familiar ground. It does just enough to keep fresh, and I’m sure it’ll leave you with a happy memory. Find my review here.
9. Monsters Inc.
“Scary monsters don’t have plaque”. A lesson learned from Pixar’s wonderful Monster’s Inc. The story of Mike and Sully discovering that a touch from a human child cannot harm a monster is hilarious throughout. It might not represent Pixar at their challenging best, but it is an amazingly fun trip into a fantastic idea. A lot is made of how the monsters in our closet live their daily lives. They go to work like we do, but their job is to scare children. Now will you put that thing back where it came from? So help me.
8. Finding Nemo
With one of the hardest hitting openings ever devised in film, Finding Dory is a tale about a father looking for his son. Marlin’s journey across the ocean is an emotional rollercoaster filled with hardships and unfriendly sorts. Marlin’s love for his only remaining child is deep and knows no bounds however. Helped along by his plucky but forgetful sidekick Dory, this is an adventure worth taking. It’s charming, frightening, hilarious and looks amazing, even today.
7. The Incredibles
Brad Bird knows his way around film, doesn’t he? The Incredibles is another erm, incredible note on his CV. The film takes everything we know and love about Super Heroes, but places them into the real world. After a series of high-profile court cases, Super Heroes are banned, leaving the remaining Supers to adopt a normal life. Mr. Incredible himself takes up a boring office job. Of course, something goes wrong. Something has to go wrong. The Super heroic family must put their new normal lives behind them for a crack at the super hero whip. The contrast between normal life and the family’s heroic antics is hilariously envisaged too. It’s one incredibly super movie.
6. Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 was something of the perfect sequel. It’s arguably better than the original, it fleshes out the characters you know and love, adds new ones into the fold and raises the stakes. It represents Pixar at their best. The adventure is fantastic, the humour is spot-on and it contains one of the most bittersweet songs ever written. A true animation classic.
To date, Wall•E remains Pixar’s most ambitious film. The dialogue is brief and fleeting, but the impact is beautiful. The love story between two robots is lavished with stunning imagery throughout, marking poignant moments with a sweeping score to only add to the incredible atmosphere of the film. There’s more to the film than that, too, as the ruined Earth is given new hope by a plant sprouting out of an old boot. This is a must for fans of animation.
4. Toy Story 3
Drama! Suspense! Romance! It’s all there in Toy Story 3. It’s one of Pixar’s smartest films to date, something you wouldn’t think a part 3 could ever achieve. This is a film that plays on the emotions of those who grew up with the Toy Story franchise. The story about Andy moving away for college and leaving his childhood behind was hard hitting for many fans across the world. I’ll happily admit to shedding a tear or two during the film’s emotional climax.
Pixar’s film about a rat with dreams of becoming a famous chef is just about their most overlooked production. Ratatouille is spectacularly good. The premise is silly, but the film is sweet, and richly spiced. It’s full of memorable characters, hilarious lines, a beautifully realised Paris and mobster rats. What’s not to love? Plus, if Super Hans enjoys it, then it’s got to be good.
2. Toy Story
In my opinion, the original Toy Story is the best of the three. I’m not sure if this is down to the quality of the film or my nostalgia, but whatever it is, Toy Story is a quintessential masterpiece. “He’s not flying, he’s falling, with style!” “We toys see everything, so play nice”. I could go on. Every second of this film is a second to savour. Toy Story set the ball rolling for Pixar, and the CG animated film. We have a lot to thank the film for. Good thing it’s so darn incredible too!
Leave it to Pixar to create one of the most emotionally tiring films of all time. Up is so lovingly made that it moves on and floats away from most other movies. It opens with something so bittersweet that it’s enough to bring grown men to tears. But it doesn’t stop there. This is a film full of wonder, excitement, hilarity and tender moments. You’d be hard pressed to find a film that takes you through the emotional wringer quite like Up. It’s a cinematic masterpiece for the ages and it deserves all the credit it gets, and then some.