In celebration of the release of Inside Out 2 months ago, join me in ranking every single film released by Pixar in the past 20 years, worst to best. Except for Inside Out. Because I have yet to see it. Because I suck at being topical. Apparently, it’s great. I dunno.
So, let’s get this show on the road!
14. Cars 2 (2011)
Was there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Cars 2 would be at the bottom of this list? If so, those who do not know that Cars 2 is unequivocally the worst thing to come out of Pixar please leave, now.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s bite the proverbial Pixar bullet and talk about the horror that is Cars 2. Cars 2 is a soulless, heartless film worthy of Dreamworks. Yeah, I said it. Cars 2 does not belong in the Pixar canon. It has nothing. It’s a nothing film. There’s little to talk about, because there’s little in the film. It’s a shallow, hollow shell of a Pixar film, with nothing to teach but “buy our toys, kids, they have rocket launchers now!” What’s the strangest about this is that no one, no one was asking for a Cars sequel. At all. The original Cars was one of the lowest grossing Pixar films at the time of its release, and, as of yet, the Cars 2 is the second-lowest grossing Pixar film, trailed only by freaking A Bug’s Life. Wow. Just wow. The only reason this exists is because the toys sell so well. That’s also the only reason we’re getting a Cars 3. I thought you were better than this, Pixar! How did we get a Cars trilogy before an Incredibles trilogy?!
13. Cars (2006)
I have very, very little to say about Cars. Namely, it’s only marginally better than its sequel, and that’s because it tries. It tries to be about something, about a big-city car falling in love with the charms of a small town by ripping off the plot of Doc Hollywood. It fails. It fails because Lightning McQueen is a boring protagonist. It fails because of the lackadaisicality of the whole thing. It’s just so, so boring!! And the entire film is an uninspired flop. A whatever film. A “we don’t care” film from Pixar! From Pixar!! Ugh.
12. Monsters University (2013)
Monsters University is fine. Just fine, nothing more, nothing less. It’s an okay-ish college comedy that does an okay-ish job at showing the early lives of beloved characters. The animation is superb, the script is weak. The characters are fine, the story is generic. The comedy is good, the drama is okay. All in all, stunningly average, and mind-blowingly mediocre. Yeah, I’ll have more to say about the films that I actually like, later on down the list.
11. Brave (2012)
Brave is the first film on the list that I can honestly say has some sort of honest effort and heart behind it. It’s a story that someone actually wanted to tell, and that’s admirable. Too bad the story kind of sucks.
Although I would rather watch MU any day over Brave, this is the reason I peg Brave as a better film: because it has some effort, some soul, some creative force behind it, which elevates it in my mind above MU. Sure, Brave’s not great, and it certainly did not deserve the Oscar over Wreck-It Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, and Foodfight!. Just kidding about that last one, by the way. It was a thing known as a punchline. Like, you read through the list, seeing a bunch of great films, and then you’re suddenly ambushed by Foodfight!. And that, children, is how a joke works.
10. Ratatouille (2007)
This is the point in the list where the films switch from films I dislike to films that I struggled to find an order for. And if the fact that over the course of 20 years, producing 15 films, that I love every one but 4 (discounting Inside Out, it’s probably great) doesn’t prove that Pixar is the greatest Western animation studio, I don’t know what would.
Ratatouille is a simple little animated film, a fun, adventurous, dramatic, funny, and irreverent film featuring beautiful animation, great writing, and fantastic voicework, especially from Patton Oswalt and Ian Holm. Also, I love this part:
Watch out for Horst.
9. A Bug’s Life (1998)
A Bug’s Life is the second film done by Pixar, back when they were still finding their voice. It lacks some of the qualities of the other greats, it’s largely a kids’ film, with little substance, and not a ton of soul, but it has enough for me. It’s a fun adventure film filled with memorable characters, like Flik, Heimlich, P.T. Flea, Dot, Hopper, and the actually-quite-terrifying Thumper.
Also, the film features an amazing vocal performance from Kevin Spacey as Hopper. It’s pretty incredible.
8. Finding Nemo (2003)
It was difficult for me to place Finding Nemo so low on the list, it being one of my all-time favorite films. But, one thing to note: this list is ordered by what I think is better, not by what’s my favorite. Here’s an unrelated example to explain what I mean: my favorite Star Wars movie is Return of the Jedi, but the best Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back. Get what I’m sayin’? Good.
Finding Nemo is a wonderful film. It’s hilarious, dramatic, sad (*sniff* Coral *sniff*), and incredibly poignant. It says what it wants to say while doing what it wants to do. It doesn’t mince words or waste time, and it looks incredible while doing so. Seriously, name a 12-year-old animated film that looks as great as Finding Nemo. Okay, not a fair question, most 2003 animated films suck. Yeah, it wasn’t a good year for animation, was it? If Brother Bear can get an Oscar Nomination alongside Finding Nemo, there’s not exactly a great selection of animated films, is there?
7. Toy Story 2 (1999)
There’s very little I need to say about Toy Story 2. Done wrong, it could’ve been seen as Pixar retreating backwards after the relative failure of A Bug’s Life at the box office. It could’ve been the start of endless Toy Story sequels. It could’ve been a sucky movie is what I’m trying to say. But it wasn’t. It was great, it was grand, it was beautiful. In fact, I’ll let the film speak for itself. Here’s one of the saddest scenes in animated history:
Have fun crying for the rest of the day. I know I will be.
6. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Toy Story 3 was a beautiful way to close of a beloved trilogy (yes, I refuse to acknowledge Toy Story 4). An emotional ending to a wonderful series. An all-time great of animation. So why is it lower than the original Toy Story? Because I was too old when this came out to have nostalgia for it, okay? The original I watched on VHS. This one, I watched on DVD. That’s the difference. Is 3 perhaps intrinsically better than 1? Yes, possibly, but the nostalgia goggles cannot, and will not be defeated.
5. WALL-E (2008)
WALL-E is perhaps the most bold film ever undertaken by Pixar. A film whose main characters speak at most 2-3 different words the entire film? A film which has no real dialogue until more than 30 minutes in? “Blasphemy, for the sheeple will not comprehend your story, and it shall not maketh the money!” is what a lesser studio (*cough* Dreamworks *cough*) might’ve said when pitched this movie. But not Pixar. They believed in the project. They poured their heart and soul into it, putting everything into it to produce a truly mind-blowing and innovative science fiction film, a children’s film that references 2001: A Space Odyssey, for goodness’ sake!
Everything, the breathtaking animation, the memorable, yet silent, characters, the vast landscapes, the amazing world, and the subtle environmental moral combine to form one of Pixar’s best. Heck, from this point onward, it was almost impossible to decidedly order these films!
4. Up (2009)
Up is an emotional, beautiful, sad, sad film. Seriously, in about 5 minutes, there’s a tragic love story poignant enough to start up the waterworks.
Up looks incredible, has great writing, great voice acting, and is emotionally driven, as per the norm for Pixar. What else can I say, other than that Doug is adorable?
The villain is great, despite appearing the same age as Carl when he should be about 10-20 years older. He looks pretty spry for a 100-year-old guy.
3. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monsters, Inc. is an incredibly funny film that unites the comedic duo of the legendary Billy Crystal and the hilarious John Goodman for the first time on the big screen. It’s amazing, hilarious, and yet still emotional and beautiful. The monster world looks great, with each monster having their own unique look, including throwbacks to other classic monsters, such as Medusa, in Celia.
Also, can we talk about how threatening Randall is? And how incredible this song is?
And how incredible this opening sequence is?
It’s just so jazzy!
2. Toy Story (1995)
Here it is. The one that started it all. The first Pixar film. And almost the best, in my eyes. I might have some nostalgia goggles clouding my vision here. Whatever. It’s unimportant, this is my opinion. And my opinion is that Toy Story rocks, and is the second-best Pixar film. Sure, the animation is dated, but the story is still relevant. The voice acting is still great, even from Tim Allen! The music (including You’ve Got a Friend in Me) is great and the script is top notch.
In my eyes, this is the best of the trilogy, but is still a difficult choice. It’s like picking a favorite puppy, or something. Yeah.
- The Incredibles (2004)
The Incredibles is hands-down the greatest Pixar film ever created, and, more than that, it’s one of the greatest superhero films ever created. The animation is great, the action is (pardon the pun) Incredible, the script is great, the film is directed superbly by Brad Bird, the voice acting is fantastic (even from Brad Bird), and the whole thing is a far, far better Fantastic Four film than anything a direct adaptation has managed to create thus far. Take that Roger Corman! And Tim Story! And especially Josh Trank!
But, yeah. The film is full of heart and memorable characters, including a PG-rated, yet still no less intense Samuel L. Jackson. The film is somewhat profound (if everyone’s super, no one will be), and plays out like a family-friendly Watchmen. And I love Watchmen.
Well, there you have it. No review this week, sorry guys, but I had this post in mind, and slotted it in this week instead of a review. What did you think? Did I hate on Dreamworks just a bit too much, or just the right amount? Did my ranking match up with yours, or was it Incredibly different? Whatever you thought, comment below, and I’ll see you next time. Bye!