This post is next to impossible to write. Trying to determine which Pixar movie is my favourite is like trying to decide whether I like chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and mint better. I tend to lose self-control with my weight watching with both of them more than anything else. Even Pixar’s worst movies are at least watchable, and when they’re on their game, nobody in the animation world comes close to matching them. But here it goes. Here are all of the Pixar movies ordered from my least favourite to my most favourite.
This is the closest thing that Pixar has to a bad movie. Instead of starring Lightning McQueen, who is at least mildly compelling, it pits the tow truck Mater in the starring role. Considering Mater was mildly annoying in the first movie, that was a mistake. Cars 2 was built entirely on a joke in John Lasseter’s head. That’s not a good sign. It’s an obnoxious movie that tries to be about a racing tournament and a spy thriller at the same time. Even if you like the first and third Cars movies, it’s best to ignore this one.
I like the idea behind this movie, but it feels half-hearted. It feels like it’s both trying to be The Land Before Time and trying to be its own story about a scared little boy learning how to be brave. It’s got good visuals and you can tell the filmmakers were trying, but there’s just not all that much to it. I almost forgot The Good Dinosaur existed until I read the list of Pixar movies in preparation for this post.
We’re already getting into the movies that are at least good. That’s how incredible Pixar’s movies are – out of 20 movies, only two aren’t what you could call good. With Brave, the main problem is that it’s basically “rich people problems: the movie”. It’s got good characters, Merida and her mother both learn valuable lessons, and it’s got a great soundtrack. That said, it’s a one and done kind of movie. You’ll see it once, you’ll enjoy yourself, but you probably won’t feel like watching it again. It’s a one and done movie that somehow I’ve watched three times. There most likely won’t be a fourth time.
Putting this movie at this point of the list is more of a personal preference thing than anything else. This is basically a college antics movie, but made to be family friendly. Since I only saw it this past year, I’m well past my college days. There’s a chance I would have liked this a lot more when I was younger, and it is an entertaining movie, but I was never huge into the college antics subgenre of comedy. Again it’s not bad by any means, but I feel no desire to watch it again.
Cars, starring Lightning McQueen, is a movie I didn’t think much of the first time I watched it. After watching it a second time earlier this year, I at least understood why other people could love it so much. There’s a lot of heart to this movie, and the main character learns a much needed lesson in humility. It deserves better than its early reputation of being Pixar’s first dud, because it’s not a dud. It’s just not as good as Pixar’s masterpieces.
A Bug’s Life is nostalgic to me, being a movie I remember watching in theaters with my aunt and uncle. I remember thinking before I watched it that it would be lame, but then I really enjoyed it. It’s an entertaining movie, but that’s about it. The heart is there, but it’s not as deep as most of Pixar’s movies. Not sure what else to say about this one.
This movie isn’t as entertaining as most Pixar movies, and that’s by intention. It’s not as deep with its drama either. Where this movie really shines is its atmosphere. It feels like it belongs in France, and everything enhances that feel; the characters, the art design – and especially the music. The makers of the movie all studied gourmet cooking while working on the writing, and it shows. Overall Ratatouille is a good movie, but of the entire Pixar catalogue, it fits the phrase “acquired taste” more than any of the others.
13. Cars 3
Cars 3 is about getting older. Lightning McQueen was a young, ambitious racecar in the first movie, just breaking into the scene. This movie is about a McQueen who is not only past his prime, but he’s getting passed more and more by racecars who are destroying his records. He tries to retrain and get back into racing condition, but as the movie goes on, he finds himself better suited in a mentor role for another car who doesn’t have the confidence she needs. I feel like I can relate to this story in some ways, not because I’m an athlete by any means mind you – I’m not sure I can explain it. But the themes in this movie really resonate with me, making this my easy pick for my favourite of the Cars movies. It even increased my appreciation for the first one. That’s a sign of a well-done sequel.
Finding Dory’s predecessor, Finding Nemo, was for years the Pixar movie with the most heart of them all. Finding Dory is a very good movie, but the reason it lands itself in the bottom half of my list is because it doesn’t have as much heart as the original. It feels like it trades that off for more comedic elements. Finding Dory is a really good movie that explores memory loss in fascinating ways – it just doesn’t match the original on any level.
This list is already getting difficult to sort out. All of the remaining movies on this list are great. Some of them are absolute masterpieces. If you enjoy animation, you should watch all of these following movies at least once.
As someone who grew up on the Toy Story movies, it almost hurts to put one so low on the list. But of the three Toy Story movies, this one feels the least focused, it tries a bit too hard on the comedy side (even if it brings forth a lot of laughs). If it feels like some elements were rushed, it’s because it was. With barely over a year left in production, they almost restarted the whole movie. Still, Toy Story 2 digs into Woody’s past in fascinating ways, it continues the friendship between Buzz and Woody in a bit of a role reversal, and the second half of the movie is consistently entertaining. Toy Story 2 is still a great movie, but it’s the least great of the Toy Story trilogy.
Even looking at the title of this movie fired the very dramatic soundtrack into my head. The dramatic tones from this movie alone are brilliant, and you’ve got a creative story about monsters getting power from children’s screams to add to that. The drama of Sully and Mike really caring for a human child makes this movie work better than my doubting self-expected going in all those years ago. The intense power struggle within the factory also makes for an intriguing plot. This is another movie that I doubted before I watched it, and boy was I wrong.
The first 5 minutes of Up alone is so brilliantly done that if the entire movie was like that, it would be a shoe in for the number one spot. It’s a lovely yet tragic tale of a married couple told only through visuals and music. Even though I’ve seen this movie upwards of 10 times, it still brings me to tears on every rewatch. The only reason this is number 10 is that, while the rest of the movie is a fun adventure story, it never reaches that same level of drama as the first five minutes. It almost feels misleading because of that. Don’t let that turn you off though – this is a fun adventure story with a masterpiece of a tragic opening.
Up until very recently, I would say that this is the most dramatic entry in the entire Pixar catalogue, and that’s saying a lot. It’s a story about a father searching for his lost son – his only son. It’s a story about a frightened man learning how to be brave. It’s a story about a young fish learning to overcome his birth defect (a little fin). It’s deliberately not as entertaining as most Pixar movies, and it’s better for it. The visuals were breathtaking when it first came out, and it still looks beautiful now.
I’ve now seen Incredibles 2 twice, and I cannot decide which of these two movies I like more. The first one is better from a family drama standpoint, while the second is the better action thriller. Both movies excel in both however. These are both fun superhero movies with a subtle 60’s spy movie vibe, and they act as better Fantastic Four movies than the actual Fantastic Four movies have ever been.
Sorting the rest of this list is basically impossible, so the rest of these movies will just be listed in order of release. My opinions on them could very well change from day to day, so I’ll just leave them universally at the top. This isn’t me being lazy – I’ve spend two weeks trying to decide which among these is my favourite. That’s not an exaggeration. And if I were to combine the Pixar list and my Disney Animation Studios list, these five would probably take the top 5 spots. The Incredibles movies would also probably be in the top 10.
Toy Story took the world by storm. It was the first ever fully CGI animated movie, and a lot was riding on its success. Thanks to brilliantly written characters, the sense of childlike wonder with the idea of toys coming to life, and the fact that he toys treat their roles as a business, it succeeded. This movie forever changed animation.
Although animation technology has further improved since WALL-E came out, I find this to be the most breathtaking Pixar movie from a visual design standpoint. The first act is the stronger of the two, pretty much acting like a silent film about two robots falling in love. Even then, the second half features the space dancing scene that works on every level, an environmental message that actually works, and a lot of comedy to make up for the drama that was kind of pushed into the background for a while. Like Ratatouille, the general atmosphere of the movie enhances the overall picture, but this is a much better movie on every level.
This movie somehow takes the Toy Story trilogy and wraps it up in a perfect little bundle, concluding plot elements from both of its predecessors in a fully satisfying way. It’s somehow more dramatic than the first movie, with two moments that make me tear up every time, yet almost as entertaining as the second. The main thing holding it back is that the villain reveal in this one is way too similar to the villain reveal in Toy Story 2, which hurts its originality.
Not only is Inside Out a dramatic story about a kid who’s dealing with all the emotions of moving to a new city, but it does so by exploring how the human mind works in fascinating ways. They turned the five base emotions into characters in a brilliant, compelling way. The visuals are very creative. The occasional look into other characters’ heads is entertaining. Glimpses into childhood memories and the thought process enhances an already brilliant concept. This movie works on pretty much every level.
Until recently, I felt that Finding Nemo is the most dramatic movie in Pixar’s catalogue. And then I watched Coco. Coco is already visually breathtaking, not only with the newest developments in CGI animation, but with its art style. There’s a brilliant plot twist that not only reveals the movie’s true villain, but it enhances the movie’s dramatic elements. The themes around Miguel’s love of music even add to this movie’s depth, with the song “Remember Me” both played as an epic showpiece by the famed musician Ernesto de la Cruz, and a very dramatic acoustic rendition to cap the movie off. There’s a strong argument to be made for Coco being Pixar’s actual best movie, and that’s saying a lot.