There is no studio quite like Pixar. Not only have they been the gold standard for cutting edge animation, but they have also routinely given us heartwarming stories that are entertaining for moviegoers of all ages. With 20 films under their belt, I decided to try my hand at ranking them. Full disclosure, making this list was like splitting hairs as most of them are sensational. Nevertheless, here is my countdown of all of Disney/Pixar’s full length films.
20. CARS 2
Easily the black sheep of the Pixar family. While it’s more boring than terrible, this unnecessary sequel is neither thematically profound nor is it clever. Making Cars sidekick, Mater the lead and shifting the plot to being a spy film rather than focusing on racing were two mistakes that made it feel like a direct to DVD Disney film rather than a Pixar masterpiece.
Best Moment: Mater experiencing a Japanese toilet for the first time warranted a chuckle, I guess.
19. CARS 3
The only Pixar movie that actually made me doze off upon first viewing. The story, which puts the focus back on Lightning McQueen being an athlete fading from his prime, is endearing enough. But the movie itself doesn’t have nearly enough humor or exciting moments to be considered entertaining for anyone other than young children.
Best Moment: The final race where Lightning McQueen coaches up Cruz Ramirez to victory was a nice touch.
18. THE GOOD DINOSAUR
This movie was incredibly heartwarming and carried the Pixar torch of making audience members tear up. The problem is, it isn’t nearly original enough. A studio known for its unique characters and stories managed to make a film that ended up being a mashup of a bunch of other Disney movies we’d already seen.
Best Moment: Arlo and Spot go on a pretty wild trip off some poison berries.
Princess Merida was a great character and her triplet brothers were hilarious. But this movie wasn’t particularly memorable. There wasn’t a ton of exciting moments and even though there were some good laughs, it can’t outweigh the fact that Brave isn’t nearly as rewatchable as many of the other Pixar movies.
Best Moment: Princess Merida makes a trip to see the quirky wood carver who moonlights as a witch.
Sorry to pick on the Cars franchise, but these movies aren’t as great for audiences members of all ages. The first film in the trilogy was good, but not great. The plot was sound, and of course the animation was gorgeous, but there just wasn’t enough clever humor to make it a masterpiece. Most of the humor came from car puns and it kind of got old in this movie’s lengthy run time.
Best Moment: Guido performs the most epic pit stop ever.
The characters were fun and quirky and the animated food looked incredibly appetizing. But again, great film, not particularly memorable for being funny or exciting. This was one of those movies everyone should see, but it isn’t exactly one you’d be dying to own.
Best Moment: Remy cooks up a dish so spectacular that it makes food critic and French curmudgeon Anton Ego reminisce to his childhood.
14. INCREDIBLES 2
Pixar’s latest film is really fun and exciting. It’s arguably funnier than the first and the action scenes are some of the best in the history of animation. But as plots go, this is probably Pixar’s weakest non-Cars story.
Best Moment: Baby Jack Jack vs. the Raccoon
13. MONSTERS INC.
Baby Boo was adorable and Sully and Mike were a fantastic onscreen duo. It’s almost crazy to me to put this movie so low on the list, but it isn’t quite as funny or thematically groundbreaking as the movies above it.
Best Moment: “Welcome to the Himalayas! Snow cone?”
12. TOY STORY 2
One of the few animated sequels that lived up to the hype. But in hindsight, it’s the weakest of the Toy Story trilogy. Jessie and Bullseye were great additions to the franchise and there are plenty of laughs in this film. But I can’t help but feel like Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy’s toys took too much of a backseat to Woody in this one.
Best Moment: Buzz Lightyear #2 vs. Zerg
11. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
I was surprised at how much I loved this movie. The collegiate theme to the movie was a great aesthetic. It made the film feel more unique than any Pixar sequel and managed to create more depth and nuance to Mike and Sully’s already wonderful chemistry.
Best Moment: The snail monster “rushing” to class.
10. INSIDE OUT
Now we’re really starting to split hairs. I absolutely loved this movie. That it barely cracks the top 10 is a testament to Pixar’s films since it’s release. A creative story and a beautiful message about the importance of every emotion manages to outweigh the lack of laugh out loud moments in comparison to other Pixar films.
Best Moment: If Bing Bong’s epic sacrifice doesn’t get you in your feelings, you have no soul.
9. A BUG’S LIFE
One of the most rewatchable animated movies ever. The characters are fun and quirky. The story is smart and funny. And, above all, Hopper is a sensational villain and the studios best antagonist to date.
Best Moment: Hopper demonstrates why the grasshoppers need to keep the ants in line after one of his foolish subordinates suggests taking time off.
Sure, there isn’t a lot of dialogue. But I’ve watched and enjoyed several silent films, so that doesn’t bother me. This movie is arguably Pixar’s most endearing and manages to be smart and humorous despite its unconventional method of storytelling.
Best Moment: WALL-E adorably tries to woo Eve with dancing and a flower.
7. FINDING DORY
This movie was as heartfelt as it was hilarious. It successfully built its narrative around the previous film’s incredible supporting character. It is a model of how you make a sequel while placing a different character at the forefront (Looking at you Cars 2).
Best Moment: Hank the octopus experiences Dory’s short term memory loss for the first time when trying to get her tag.
One could make the argument that this is Pixar’s best film and I wouldn’t argue with you. It doesn’t have as many laughs and memorable characters as other movies in the gallery, but it is still an absolute masterpiece. The visuals, the tear inducing story, and the beautiful representation of Mexican culture should all be applauded.
Best Moment: Mama Coco remembers her father when Miguel plays “Remember Me”
5. TOY STORY 3
This movie had a lot of elements from Toy Story 2, but with better execution. Transplanting Jessie’s arc to the villain was an upgrade, and the movie gave Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy’s toys, a fun and humorous arc. For anyone who ever had a favorite toy, the finale is still enough to bring even the toughest of personas to tears. This movie was so good that I have no desire for Toy Story 4.
Best Moment: The toys in the furnace is a gut punch of emotion.
No opening scene in cinema has a more gut punching intro. From there, Up set the stage for one of the most endearing stories to date. Even without the heartwarming elements, this movie would stand the test of time for being a fun, family adventure.
Best Moment: The opening montage with Carl and Ellie… duh.
3. TOY STORY
The film that started it all. Great characters. A ton of memorable, hilarious moments. A great story with a good lesson for people of all ages. Toy Story had it all. Over two decades old and it still holds up as a cinematic masterpiece.
Best Moment: “Don’t you get it! You see the hat! I am Misses Nesbit!”
2. FINDING NEMO
The beginning may not be quite as tear inducing as UP’s, but it isn’t too far behind. (Disney sure likes killing off parents). Finding Nemo has one of the best assortments of supporting characters of any film ever made. Despite having a ton of characters, every single one that comes on screen leaves a mark. It paces seamlessly and provides some fantastic laughs throughout making it as close to a perfect movie as one can fathom.
Best Moment: The initiation of “Sharkbate”… or anything involving Dory.
1. THE INCREDIBLES
Maybe I’m biased because superheroes are my favorite, but no animated film is as rewatchable for me as this one. The characters are fun and unique, the laughs are plentiful, the music is sensational, and the design is flawless. Throw in a well paced story, some exhilarating action, and a fantastic villain and you have Pixar’s most fun and memorable film.
Best Moment: Dash escapes Syndrome’s henchmen is a close second… but superhero costumed designer, Edna Mode steals the show.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let me know what Pixar films make your Top Ten.
One thought on “The Impossible Task… Ranking the Pixar Films”
Here’s my updated list. I hope I like it.