This was supposed to be a supplementary piece when I was ranking all the Disney movies, but I fell behind on that and didn’t get to this. The other day I caught the back half of Ratatouille and it made me want to finish this up. Ranking Pixar’s catalogue is tough, because with one exception they are all great films. The difference between the best Pixar movie and the third worst is razor thin. It largely comes down to personal preference rather than any intrinsic strengths or weaknesses in any of these movies.
14. Cars 2: This is widely accepted as the worst film Pixar has made. I saw it for the first time not too long ago and it is not as bad as its reputation would suggest. It is okay. In terms of Pixar movies is pretty bad, but compared to the wide world of animated movies is still worth watching. The biggest problem with Cars 2 is that it stars Mater and Mater is not a strong enough character to carry a movie. He is fine in smaller doses, like in the first Cars, but here there is just too much of him.
13. Cars: This movie is head and shoulders above its sequel, but it is still one of the weaker Pixar films. The world of Cars doesn’t hold up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny. It is a strange, unbelievable world. Otherwise, its big problem is that its focus is not quite as universal as most of their films. Nostalgia for Route 66 does not have as wide of an appeal as Finding Nemo’s focus on fatherhood.
12. A Bug’s Life: The Seven Samurai with bugs. It is fun but forgettable. As in, I forgot to put it on the list the first time I made it. I like it, but I’m not a too big a fan of any of the characters.
11. Finding Nemo: I expect most people have this one much higher on the list than I do. I see why so many people absolutely love it, but while I like it, it is far from my favorite. Mostly that is because of Dory. I find her incredibly annoying; I simply hate that character. Otherwise, it is a great movie.
10. Brave: This feels like Pixar makes a Disney movie, and they did it better than Disney had for more than a decade. I still haven’t seen Frozen to know if Disney has topped them. Brave has a few rough patches, but it shines through them anyway.
9. Toy Story 2: This is easily the weakest of the Toy Story trilogy. There is nothing really wrong with it, it just feels slightly superfluous. It is a perfectly fine movie, but it doesn’t add a whole lot. Other than Jessie, I guess. That is a pretty worthwhile addition.
8. Monsters University: Another sequel and this one is a little better. I liked seeing the Monsters, Inc characters again, though the main focus of this film seems to be to make an animated Animal House. I think we really needed an animated Animal House.
7. Ratatouille: Rats in the kitchen. It is hard to get past that, even if it is in service of a story about struggling to realize your dreams no matter the obstacles. That may be the lesson of nearly every animated movie, but Ratatouille does it better than anyone else.
6. Toy Story: This is the movie that started it all and it holds up. Not the animation so much, which does look rather rough now. But at the time it was a revelation. The story, though, absolutely holds up. Woody and Buzz are some great characters.
5. Toy Story 3: The most striking part of the 3rd Toy Story is how adult its subject matter is. Yes, it is still a movie about talking toys, but it is also about growing old. A quite poignant take on that subject, as well. It is just a really very good movie.
4. Monsters, Inc: This may just be Pixar’s most fun outing. The world of Monsters, Inc lends itself really well to jokes and Mike and Sully are a fun duo. It lacks a little of the emotional side that many of their other output, but it is so enjoyable it is easy to ignore the lack.
3. Up: The opening scene in this is simply touching. The rest of the movie isn’t half bad either. This movie combines touching moments with comedy better than most.
2. Wall-E: The first half of this movie is absolutely amazing. The second half is a big step down, but it is still strong. It is simply charming. The love story between Wall-E and EVE is one of the most touching I’ve seen in an animated film. This is a great sci-fi movie.
1. The Incredibles: This might be the best superhero movie ever made. It is just so perfect. Mr. Incredible is a great character. He is powerful and heroic, but also fallible and relatable. The rest of the family is great too. The scene when they return to the city in the van is one of my absolute favorite scenes in any movie. While I prefer that Pixar doing new things, if they are doing sequels as sequel to The Incredibles should be at the top of the list.