As we continue with ranking Pixar movies by their eras (eras that I made up and defined all by myself) we move into the Disney Partnership era. This era actually goes beyond their partnership, this era actually refers to the first era of films after Disney purchased Pixar. This first era of the melding companies is actually rather small because as I have mentioned in the first article ranking these films, I decided to split these up completely by vibes and emotion. And I think each of the eras that I broke these into hold a specific set of emotions or intended themes for the audience.
This Disney partnership era consists of only 4 films. I left it at these four films because they feel like the joint company was gearing up for something. Like these films were so individually incredible that they were ushering in a new era of animated brilliance. The films in this era remain some of the fan favorites, as well as children’s hyperfixations.
Disney Partnership Era
In fourth place we have Cars. What kids aren’t obsessed with race cars? Pixar really took a favorite childhood toy and made it a story about humility, and found family. I love this movie, I love the message of this movie but I also think that Disney got a little too happy go lucky with how much money it made and forced 2 sub-par sequels upon us that absolutely did not live up to the quality of the original. That said, the Cars land section of Disneyland, California Adventure is the greatest thing that company has ever done, it's immersive and beautiful and my favorite part of the park.
Coming in 3rd is Ratatouille, I know, I know but hear me out. As amazing as this movie was (and still is) it just can’t touch the emotional impact of the top 2 movies in this era. However Ratatouille remains one of Pixar’s most loved films. It's sweet, it's fun, and everyone loves a story about characters finding their place in the world. It is something that we all need to see from time to time.
Now the placements for the top two are really a toss up but you will just have to go with my decision because I said so. So in 2nd place is WALL-E. I truly think this movie is hauntingly beautiful. The lack of exposition and dialogue really does an amazing job of hammering home the world that these characters are living in. The actual dialogue in this movie is very minimal and I think that is an amazing and underutilized story technique. And it's underutilized because very few screenwriters are actually good enough storytellers to pull that off. But WALL-E does it so well. I think the emotional impact that this film had on a lot of people is something that leaves a really deep impression and makes it hard for people to forget. This is the kind of movie that stays with you.
I put Up in first place for some very personal reasons so this might be entirely biased but I think it earns the top spot. It's one of the greatest love stories of all time, not just the first 10 minutes but the whole film. As someone who would be entirely lost without her husband, I understand shutting down after losing the love of your life. But the way that he decided to live out their together dreams, by himself, was the ultimate love letter. That’s what Ellie would want for him.
I think this era was a real turning point for Pixar, and not because their films weren’t emotional before or because now Disney owned them, but because they really started to dig into some heavier content and I think that as they have continued with that trend they’ve become one of the most impactful companies in the industry. There is no bad Pixar movie, some are loved more, some hold more nostalgia, but there are truly no bad movies (these sequels we keep getting do not count).