The Ten Best Films From Pixar
There can be very little argument that Disney/Pixar is the king of animated filmmaking. Sure, Dreamworks Animation continually churns out solid stuff. Non-Pixar Disney is still incredible with stuff like Frozen, Tangled, Wreck-it Ralph, and Zootopia. Blue Sky can be a bit more childish but is still fun. The Despicable Me franchise is still killing it. However, none of these studios or films ever seem to have the depth, the heart, and the creative flair that Disney/Pixar does. Currently, Pixar has 20 movies under their belt, and even their worst film is better than most other films released in a given year. However, there are several astonishingly well-done films and some borderline-to-full masterpieces as well. Here are the Top Ten Pixar Films since the original Toy Story was released 23 years ago.
#10: Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monsters, Inc. is an absolute delight. The film is a high fantasy about a world of monsters that use the screams of human children to harness energy. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are perfectly cast as Mike and Sully, a monster scare team that is the most efficient out of all the monster employees on the Scare Floor. The design of the monsters and the scare floor are as clever as anything Disney/Pixar has done.The idea that different children’s’ doors can be summoned and activated so that monsters can enter their bedrooms is brilliant. All of the different monsters, the roller-coaster door sequence (where is that Disney ride?), and the premise that monsters are more afraid of human children than vice versa, makes the film a wonderful experience.
#9: Coco (2017)
Not since Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away has an animated film so effortlessly and delicately focused on the themes of death and abandonment. Coco tells the story of young Miguel and his Alice in Wonderland-type adventure into the Mexican Land of the Dead. He is there to discover and unfold the story about his great-great-grandfather and how he abandoned his family so many years ago to pursue his musical aspirations. It was this familial myth that has caused Miguel’s own dreams of stardom to be shunned and forbidden. To describe the beauty and vibrancy of Coco’s portrayal of the Land of the Dead seems to go without saying. With such beauty surrounding the balance of joy and melancholy that the film provides, Coco shows us that Disney/Pixar’s amazing storytelling abilities transcend cultures and nationalities.
#8: Ratatouille (2007)
The film follows Remy, a Parisian rat with love and lust for everything culinary. Just as Tom Tykwer’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer so perfectly portrayed the sense of smell to the audience, Ratatouille convinces the audience that they can taste everything Remy tastes. Firstly, through the abstract animation of Remy’s imagination while eating. Then secondly, through the beautiful animation and sound design of the French kitchen. The film has antics and slapstick fun that most Disney/Pixar films thrive on but Ratatouille is about that classic theme about having passions and following your dreams.
#7: The Incredibles (2004)
The Incredibles is one of the best superhero movies ever made. It has all of the best tropes of the comic-book style action and villainy. However, the real brilliance is the focus on the universal problems of family, purpose, and honesty. Who can’t relate to Bob Barr’s sense of complacency in his dead-end job or become excited when he begins to moonlight as Mr. Incredible again? How are Violet’s introversion and nervousness any different than everyone’s experiences in high school? The film just hits all the right notes by having all of the high-octane superhero action perfectly balanced with all the domestic hijinks.
#6: Finding Nemo (2003)
More so than any other Disney/Pixar film, Finding Nemo is an amazingly gorgeous film that still holds up over a decade later. The best animated films take tried-and-true story tropes and inject them into colorful, fanciful situations. This film, on the surface, is about a son that gets separated from an overprotective father. The son makes new friends whilst he is lost. The father makes friends and has adventures on his quest to find his boy. But Disney/Pixar cast the father and son as clownfish and set it all in the Great Barrier Reef. The animators and artists did an incredible job rendering the color sea and plant life in the reef and every drop of water feels real. It all adds up to a visual feast that feels timeless.
#5: Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story is where it all started. Up until 1995, Disney Animation was 2D, through hand-drawn animation. Then Pixar came around and created the first computer animated film and knocked it out of the park. However, Disney/Pixar did not become who they are today simply through visual aesthetic. They became the animation behemoth because they focus so strongly on storytelling. The feelings of loss, jealousy, and lack of purpose that Woody has with the arrival of Buzz Lightyear is all too recognizable. This is what sets Disney/Pixar aside from almost every other movie studio in existence They know how to perform this delicate balancing act better than anyone.
#4: Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out deals with complex themes about change and growing up, told through the perspective an anthropomorphize emotions in the brain of the main character, Riley. A cross-country move triggers a hormonal shift that forever reshapes Riley. When the “islands” of her childhood start to be destroyed due to her depression, it is astonishingly effective. One appreciates how creative the concept is, but feels emotional at the realization that that loss has happened to all of us.
#3: WALL-E (2008)
WALL-E may not be for everyone. For a large portion of the film, there is no dialogue. It just follows a trash-compacting robot on a desolate, uninhabited Earth, as he collects garbage and saves small pieces of minutiae found among the refuse. That is until a futuristic robot named Eve arrives, and WALL-E is smitten. Through sound design and animated facial expressions, WALL-E tells an amazing meet-cute love story that culminates into WALL-E being blasted off into space. The second half of the film aboard the Axiom is not as breathtakingly beautiful and serene as the first half. However, the concept of the human race evolving into a gaggle of overweight, sedentary slobs who can’t be torn away from their touchscreens is all too relatable and frightening.
#2: Toy Story 3 (2010)
Even though it does not top the list, the Toy Story franchise will most likely be Disney/Pixar’s everlasting legacy. The original film so perfectly brought computer-animated films to light and transformed the industry. The second film was so good that it was hoisted up out of straight-to-video purgatory and became a classic. However, the third film is the series’ masterpiece. Toy Story 3 is so beautiful, so funny, and so surprisingly devastating that you all but completely forget you are watching a film about animated toys. The sinister aspects of Sunnyside daycare are wonderfully dark and comical. Toy Story 3 is one of the most heartfelt, emotional stories of the modern era of cinema.
#1: Up (2009)
If the opening sequence of Up submitted as an Animated Short, it would hands-down win the Oscar. However, as the complete film, Up, it is the greatest work Disney/Pixar has ever done. That prologue exhibiting Carl and Ellie’s life together is an emotional powerhouse of a sequence. In a few short minutes, the audience becomes informed and invested completely in Carl’s adventure. To see what he has loved and lost, no matter what happens, you are on his side. The goofy fun is of course there. Russell is a great comic foil to the cantankerous Carl. Also, the dogs’ with the speech collars provides a lot of comedy. However, the center of the film is always Carl. His determination to get his house to his wife’s dreamscape that is Paradise Falls.
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