From Toy Story to Finding Dory, Pixar has captured our imagination time and time again in some of the most creative ways possible. Over the course of the two decades Pixar has been in existence, they have changed the way we perceive very personal themes in movies and has become the pinnacle of animation. With that in mind, here’s a ranking of all 17 Pixar movies from worst to best. A SPOILER ALERT is in effect so proceed cautiously! Also, I enjoy all these movies to some extent so just because the film is low on my list does not mean I dislike the film (maybe except for the film that’s last on the list). Without further ado, here’s the list!
#17: Cars 2 (2011): This might be the one major misstep for Pixar thus far. Cars 2 rids itself of the normal themes that we’ve come to love from Pixar and settles for cheap fart and poop jokes that other, less intelligently made animated films use in order to entertain little kids. There is practically nothing in this movie for adults and is a very lazily written departure from the norm from Pixar’s fantastic track record.
#16: Brave (2012): Brave most certainly has moments and has a solid lead character in Merida, but strange story element choices by the creative team are what make this movie falter. Once people started turning into bears, Brave started to lose me. I thought it was very noble for Pixar to explore a group of people that are rarely explored. But, in the end, Brave is unfortunately somewhat forgettable.
#15: The Good Dinosaur (2016): The Good Dinosaur has some absolutely incredible animation to the point where I legitimately thought for a second that there was actual water in a scene with a river. However, like Brave, The Good Dinosaur is somewhat forgettable and relies on its feats in animation to carry the movie. It is ultimately devoid of the charm and imaginative themes that we love from Pixar.
#14: Cars (2006): While it is still targeted more towards children than other Pixar outings, Cars is still far superior to its sequel. It has a worthy theme or learning to stay grounded and humble as we see Lightning McQueen transform into a much nicer and understanding car. While it does contain some annoying parts (mostly due to the tow truck Mater), Cars is good fun.
#13: Monsters University (2013): This was a pretty genius idea by Pixar to create a sequel to Monsters Inc. as the children who grew up on the original movie were beginning to head to college. Monsters University has a lot to say about acceptance among a new group while also showcasing a fun send-up of the fraternity and sorority systems in colleges. While the last act leaves you a little flat, Monsters University is a nice, heart-warming prequel to a Pixar classic.
#12: Ratatouille (2007): Remy brings us probably the most unlikely hero of all Pixar movies. Having a rat want to be a chef is a really intelligent way of preaching to the audience to follow your dreams, no matter the obstacles involved while also using its premise to be a commentary on social barriers. Patton Oswalt is also perfectly casted to voice Remy.
#11: A Bug’s Life (1998): A largely forgotten entry into Pixar canon, A Bug’s Life does not get the credit it deserves. The movie is expertly voice-acted, including A-list talent such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta and Kevin Spacey as Hopper. A Bug’s Life has a lot to say about personal growth and contains a versus concept between the ants and grasshoppers that we have rarely seen in other Pixar movies.
#10: Finding Dory (2016): Although it does tread on a lot of the same ground as Finding Nemo, Finding Dory is a heartfelt exploration of a character we have all come to love over the years. Dory is once again voiced perfectly by Ellen DeGeneres and gives us more memorable characters to build off of such as Hank the octopus. You’re lying to yourself if you didn’t tear up once Dory finally found her parents.
#9: Toy Story 2 (1999): With the addition of Jessie, Toy Story 2 builds upon the success of the original. The movie brings up many ideas of loyalty and growing up that are perfectly executed by the voice talent involved in the movie such as Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack. Toy Story 2 also contains a worthy villain in Stinky Pete. The best villains are ones with which you can empathize, and you can completely understand Stinky Pete’s motives for wanting to be sold to a toy museum since he has never been owned before and lacks a sense of purpose.
#8: Monsters Inc. (2001): Monsters Inc. is incredibly heart-warming and touching while at the same time fun and imaginative. The idea of a monster world that uses the screams of children to power their city is so clever. The movie also gives us arguably the most adorable Pixar character in Boo. The case can also be made that Monsters Inc. has the most hated villain of all Pixar movies in Randall, giving the audience an extra incentive to root for the protagonists.
#7: WALL-E (2008): WALL-E is most definitely one of the most intelligent animated movies Pixar has created, weaving in strong social commentary concerning laziness and harmful environmental practices into a story that follows the lovable WALL-E. This movie raised the bar for animation, finally proving that such a movie can be very accessible to adults while entertaining children along the way. WALL-E contains subtext that transcends genre and definitely leaves its mark on you upon viewing it.
#6: Toy Story (1995): The movie that started it all, Toy Story is an instant classic that touches on themes of growing up, overcoming jealousy, and even finding one’s purpose in life. Toy Story is filled with memorable characters and lines that have kept the movie relevant decades later. While the movie is fantastic on its own merits, the importance of the film (as it would change animation forever with its intelligent and poignant script accessible to all ages) should always be lauded.
#5: Up (2009): Up sends you on a whirlwind of emotions from start to finish. The opening few minutes have been well documented for being absolutely devastating, leading practically everyone to tears. But the rest of the movie is just as enthralling, leading to a masterpiece from Pixar. Russell is quite the lovable character on his quest to obtain his final merit badge. Up encapsulates what we love about Pixar: the ability to feel such a wide array of emotions in just one story.
#4: Finding Nemo (2003): Unforgettable and emotional, Finding Nemo does a wonderful job of moving back and forth between gleeful fun and truly engaging emotional depth. The movie showcases wonderful themes about self-discovery and also allows parents to take away something from the movie by identifying with Marlin as he learns to finally let Nemo loose and become his own person without being constantly shadowed by his dad.
#3: The Incredibles (2004): I still contend that this is the best Fantastic Four movie ever put to film. The Incredibles is full of the fun that Pixar routinely offers while also exploring a new avenue to do so with the superhero backdrop. The Incredibles does a great job of balancing screen time for all our heroes and delivering a satisfying (and even more violent) Pixar outing. Above all, The Incredibles is a ton of fun and you cannot help but enjoy every second of it.
#2: Toy Story 3 (2010): The perfect wrap up to the Toy Story franchise (or so we thought until Pixar announced a fourth one was in the works). In my humble opinion, Toy Story 3 has the best and most satisfying ending to any Pixar movie, providing us with the tear jerking smelting scene as all the toys believe they are going to their death while also giving us a sense of pure delight as all the toys find a new home as Andy goes off to college. Toy Story 3 is the rare sequel that is even better than the original.
#1: Inside Out (2015): Inside Out is the most intelligent way of expressing one’s inner thoughts and actions, allowing it to be accessible to kids while also really striking a chord with more mature audiences. Inside Out is a powerfully moving movie experience that shows the pure emotion of dealing with change and sorrow in one’s life. Bing-Bong, Riley’s beloved imaginary friend, gives us one of the most touching and heart-breaking moments of the story, acting as a metaphor as we all have to grow up and unfortunately leave behind some things we cherished when we were younger to do so. Inside Out is truly an all-time classic.
That’s the list! What did you think? Were there any movies that you think should have been higher or lower on the list? Comment and let me know what you think.
What should I review next? Whether it’s old or new the choice is up to you! Thanks for reading!