My Top Ten Pixar Films
21 films and 15 Oscars, organising a Top Ten List is near impossible.
I don’t think it’s possible to have a completely objective top ten list of Pixar films when they produce such quality films that surpass a lot of derivative live-action cinema that isn’t restricted to a PG rating. Sure their batting average has been hampered a bit by the recent wave of delayed sequel projects, none of which are outright duds, but none really good enough to feature on my list, but they still provide some of the most thoughtful and introspective films for people of any age. Trying to come up with a numeric ranking of the majority of my favourite childhood films has been hard, and there are some surprising omissions but here they are:
10. 'Finding Nemo'
Number ten feels like a low ranking for a film as fun, slick, and beautiful as Finding Nemo, but it just shows how brilliant Pixar is. Featuring such gorgeous animation from Pixar with their computer-generated animation fully realised to depict a dazzling animated version of the Australian Barrier Reef. Not only does it feature ground-breaking animation, but it also has a heartfelt father-son story supported with genuine emotion and delightful humour with Ellen DeGeneres really at the top of her game as Dory. Hilarious yet touching, Finding Nemo will surely make you laugh, but it may not necessarily make you cry.
9. 'Toy Story 2'
Now this film is from a franchise that has probably made you cry at least a few times. The first Toy Story is pretty much a perfect film with brilliant three-dimensional characters, and real existential themes and Toy Story 2 follows it up perfectly. From its thrilling opening scene, Toy Story 2 is a delight with the humour, heart, and one of the saddest songs ever used in a film. Jessie’s story of abandonment she faced with her old owner was the first taste of the heartbreaking emotion Pixar could evoke in their films, and the message of opening yourself up again to the idea of love after heartbreak is a very human theme, and shows Pixar’s empathetic approach.
It may seem surprising to put such a recent film in front of two bona fide Pixar classics, but Coco’s emotional catharsis was so powerful that it needed to be included on this list. Coco is a celebration to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, and is about the power of our memory, and why it is important to remember those who have left us. It’s a deep, exploratory film filled to the brim with glorious, colourful animation, and some nice humour whilst also honouring Latina tradition with some wonderful diverse representation. Also if you don’t weep the final time "Remember Me" is sung then you’re pretty heartless.
Up actually used to be my favourite Pixar film, but I’ve come to reassess my opinion since. Everyone remembers Up for the absolutely devastating Ellie and Carl montage where their whole married life is detailed to the audience through small humourous then devastating scenes that practically leave you sobbing. It’s probably the most emotional scene Pixar has produced, but the rest of the film itself is distractingly whimsical. The image of Carl’s flying house inspires awe and wonders, but Kevin the bird and the talking dogs in biplanes aren’t as funny as I remember when I was younger. Still it sticks the landing, and the handing over of the Ellie badge, and the final image of the house on Paradise Falls round out the film with a strong emotional catharsis.
I think Ratatouille is the Pixar film that grows on you as you age. Maybe it’s because the scene where the ever-cynical critic Anton Ego finally lightens up as he remembers the childhood joy he had for food becomes a lot more relatable as you grow more pessimistic with age, or maybe it’s because its themes of how to experience art and culture are more adult messages, that they hit you harder when you’re old enough to understand what writer-director Brad Bird is getting at. Anton Ego’s monologue in his final food review speaks about the nature between art and criticism, and how the former really can come from anyone anywhere, and why the latter is needed to curate the most important. It’s inspiring at any age as “anyone can cook” is a wholesome and uncomplicated positive message and Pixar’s Paris is beautifully realised.
5. 'Toy Story 3'
This year everyone was so concerned about Toy Story 4 ruining too good a thing, and while it didn’t (I would probably rank it at 11 or 12) it just goes to show how perfect an ending Toy Story 3 gave us. Coming nearly eleven years after the second Toy Story film, this third installment seemed pretty unnecessary itself, but then we were hit with not one, but two emotional climaxes that made grown men sob in public. No one will forget Andy handing over his toys to Bonnie after them being so important to him in his childhood, and how he can barely contain his emotions as he gives away Woody, because Woody never gave up on him. It makes you regret ever getting rid of your own childhood toys, but it highlights why it’s better to pass things we love onto a new generation in its heart-warming message. Also Spanish Buzz is hilarious, and Ken and Barbie were really missed in Toy Story 4.
4. 'Monster’s Inc.'
Monster’s Inc. is definitely the Pixar film most known for its humour, essentially a buddy comedy following iconic duo Mike and Scully, the film boasts a slick pace, great physical comedy, and on brand heart. Monster's Inc. will probably make you laugh the hardest out of any of the Pixar films with voice actors John Goodman and Billy Crystal giving some inspired and stand out work in a studio, whose success began with a dynamic duo in Woody and Buzz. Monsters Inc. also gave us Roz, the ultimate one-liner machine, and a part of one of the most underrated plot twists in animated film. Yet we can’t neglect the heart of the film Boo, who humanises our leads, and gives us one of the most emotional goodbyes as Pixar makes us cry about letting our childhood go once again.
3. 'Inside Out'
To be honest the three films at the top are pretty interchangeable, but I think this is my most personal film as it links so much with how I grew up myself. Inside Out is so powerful for its message to children that it’s okay to be sad, and that these feelings shouldn’t be pushed aside, and should be talked about with those around you. It’s a message that needs to be heard due to how important mental health is at any age. People often say that the saddest moment in this film is when a certain character dies, but it’s actually when Riley cries and opens up to her family that she’s finding it hard to be happy. Growing up is hard for how many transitions there are, and it affects Riley’s mental health similarly to how it affected mine at her age. I just wish that Inside Out was out when I was the same age she is.
2. 'Toy Story'
I’ve already said that the Toy Story film is pretty much a perfect film, and it’s honestly so close to being number one, but I think it’s pretty understandable to come second behind my eventual number one. Toy Story instantly gave us classic characters with winning voice-acting from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, who twenty-four years later, are still fantastic at voicing these characters. A confident mix of comedy, fantasy, and outright horror, Toy Story will forever be Pixar’s most iconic film with thoughtful messages about life’s purposes, and our false perceptions of others. Hearing Randy Newman’s "You’ve Got a Friend in Me" is enough to fill us with nostalgia and take us back to childhood to the first time we watched Toy Story, and we were introduced to 3D animation, and became immersed in animated film like never before.
WALL-E is just a fantastic film, an escapist love story set in a dystopia, featuring two near silent protagonists, WALL-E itself as a film project is a massive swing for the fences, and it could have been a major disaster if it weren’t for the brilliance of Pixar. Wall.e and Eve only say perhaps two different words throughout the film, yet Pixar finds so many innovative ways for the two robots to express themselves in a formula-pushing love story that nearly features no dialogue for the film’s first act. The relationship between the two is so heartfelt and beautiful that I had to have the film as my number one. Emotional, daring, and beautiful, WALL-E is unlike any other animated film out there, and features some of the most beautiful animated scenes in film. Wall.e and Eve’s dance across the stars is perhaps the most perfect scene Pixar have ever crafted, and it leaves your heart soaring.