It’s that time of the year! Actually, a little bit earlier this year in the Philippines as non-sequel Pixar movies are usually out about two months later after US release, which is a good thing of course. I remember, at around the same time last year when Inside Out was out in the US, I had to wait until August before I get to see it in Manila. By then, there has been a lot of reviews out and considering the two-month gap, I already had quite an idea of what the story was by the time I actually saw it. I guess that because Finding Nemo was one of them popular Pixar movies, Disney Philippines may have decided to release Finding Dory at the same time as the US release. Also, there isn’t much competition in the movie theaters at the moment, save maybe for Me Before You, although for families, Dory would be an obvious choice.
But you see, this article isn’t about Finding Dory, which I will review separately. Today, I get to rank Pixar movies based on my preference, which seems to have been a tradition, not only of the fans, but of many critics as well, considering the gold standard that Pixar has set in terms of animated movies. Every so often, when a Pixar movie is released, these rankings change and just rightly so, as it is a testament to the kind of quality of animated movies Pixar has been making all these years. To be honest, I could say that Pixar is on a league of its own, and only a few animated movies from other animation studios have tapped on the same quality that can be likened to most of the Pixar films.
So far, Pixar has outed 17 movies which began with Toy Story on 1995, and the latest being Finding Dory, which is the only Pixar movie this year. Let me start from the bottom going up:
#17 – Cars 2 (2011)I don’t find Mater funny at all. He was the heart of the first Cars movie, but even then, I really didn’t like his character. And since his character was front and center in Cars 2, I think anyone would understand why I list this movie at the bottom of the heap. Another thing it lacks, which I think was what this movie didn’t have that most of the Pixar movies have, is heart. To be honest, it would really be very difficult to put emotions in the context that the Cars franchise is trying to revolve around. I just find it hard to empathize to anthropomorphized cars, and although I can see the sense in the story, I just thought that this is the least that people can relate to. Surely this is eye-candy to kids, and to many adults as well, but most people equate Pixar to movies that are thought-provoking and generally an emotional roller coaster ride, which Cars 2 fails to tap on.
#16 – Brave (2012)The only three Pixar movies I’ve seen once are Cars 2, Brave and The Good Dinosaur. All the rest, I have seen at least three times. Brave isn’t bad at all, it’s actually a good one, focusing on mother-daughter relationship. For a Pixar movie, it pales in comparison to the earlier releases, but it could however easily standout from other animated films from other studios. The thing is I don’t think this movie had the imaginative genius of the other Pixar movies, and in fact, I find it a bit predictable in the end.
#15 – A Bug’s Life (1998)Being Pixar’s second movie, it had a lot to live up to. Toy Story was just a ground-breaking success in every movie aspect I could think of notwithstanding the platform that it was presented in, which is animation. At the time of release, A Bug’s Life was both a critical and commercial success, but it didn’t feel like it was able to hit the “classic” feel of the movie that precedes it.
#14 – The Good Dinosaur (2015)Even after seeing Dory, I can say that The Good Dinosaur still owns the title of being Pixar’s most beautiful movie. I didn’t really mind that the characters were a bit cartoon-ish for its photo-realistic surroundings. What I did mind though is that it seems to me as Pixar’s most forgettable movie. I just couldn’t get around the “what-if” concept that it was trying to portray. Also, I think that the story was all too familiar, and very Lion King-ish at some point.
#13 – Monsters University (2013)“Mike and Sully” is my favorite Pixar best buds. To be honest, I would have liked to put this movie higher up on the list but I guess my predicament is evident: the next ones on the list are really very good movies. I love how the friendship of the main monsters here are shown, and how they started up as competitors. It was also very interesting to see how their relationship evolved and how they complemented each other towards the end. The only reason this is down here at this part of the list is that it didn’t have the imaginative inventiveness of its predecessor, and that we are already used to seeing typical college scenes play out in many live action movies.
#12 – Cars (2006)Although Cars 2 hadn’t moved me, I actually loved Cars. Never mind the fact that they had to anthropomorphize cars to justify an all-cars universe, I really liked the story as at some point, we as an audience are able to relate to the characters. This is something the sequel had missed so bad. I also thought that James Bay’s “Hold Back The River” would have been an appropriate soundtrack to this movie. More importantly, for me, this is a pivotal point in Pixar’s catalog. It was the first Pixar film that went against the Disney tradition of “happily ever after”. Sort of something like winning by not winning. It was bittersweet in the end, and I loved it.
#11 – The Incredibles (2004)I will probably take a lot of flak from a lot of fans if they come across this article for having The Incredibles not even in the Top 10 of my list, and I can’t blame them if they would. It certainly is one of the funniest Pixar movies, I can’t deny that. The story is also actually quite good. I remember being excited for this film when it was about to be released, but I think at some point, when I actually saw it, I was looking for something in particular that an audience can pick up on and be able to relate to. There obviously is the family dynamic, however, it didn’t really strike an emotional chord given the premise and the story, which we know for a fact is Pixar’s expertise. All the same, this movie is great in so many levels and there is a lot to enjoy in the film, and if I am already saying that at number 11, then you could just imagine how I feel about the movies on my Top 10.
#10 – Finding Dory (2016)Following The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory is a testament that Pixar is back to its usual excellent form. This movie is just full of heart and many families will absolutely fall in love with Dory, who in this movie is the central character. As this movie has just been released, I will reserve my thoughts for my review of the film and say no more.
#9 – Finding Nemo (2003)When I saw Finding Nemo the first time, I thought it was an average movie in terms of heart, but was really very funny. Pixar struck gold for having developed a character in Dory, and she was the life of the whole film. After repeat viewings, it started growing on me further and further, as Marlin and Dory travel the ocean to find Nemo, and the father and son dynamic started making more and more sense. It is also a great reminder that as parents, you can only do so much to protect your children, and it is as equally important to allow them to discover things on their own. If you’re staying at home on Father’s Day, this is a great film to watch with the whole family.
#8 – Toy Story (1995)Oh well, this is the one that started the whole thing. The moment Toy Story landed on the theaters, the Pixar brand immediately stamped its mark in the movie industry. It wasn’t just the first-ever animated motion picture. It was the dawn of imagination in terms of storytelling. This was the ship that launched the next 16 Pixar “what-ifs,” and it has been brilliant ever since. I mean, it’s easy enough to be able to tell the same story using animation and human beings as characters, since it is just a simple story of sibling rivalry, but these Pixar wizards won’t be content with a “simple setup”. They had to play a little bit more with imagination and what came out after was simply a classic. This was the time when every kid all around the world started caring about their toys, not just in the sense that they should “take care” of their toys, but also thinking and caring about what their toys could feel. It was revolutionary, inventive, imaginative, and all heart.
#7 – Wall-E (2008)Wall-E is Andrew Stanton’s best work, even if Finding Nemo is brilliant, and even if Finding Dory is amazing. Pixar has a great way of making its audience care for its characters, given that the character was just a robot– a trash-compacting robot. Up until this day, I could not imagine how they were able to show so many ranges of emotion from a character that is basically a robot. And while almost the entire first half of the movie is dialogue-free, it was able to capture the audience’s emotions, and it was able to tell a great love story.
#6 – Monsters, Inc. (2001)Pete Docter is Pixar’s Christopher Nolan in such a way that his movies are thought-provoking and his ideas are brilliant. He was able to tap into one of childhood’s greatest fears – monsters behind doors – and made a whole universe out of that. As if the idea of Toy Story wasn’t imaginative enough, this movie had to step things up further, not only in terms of storytelling, but also in terms of animation. Remember Sully’s fur when they were banished from Monstropolis? That was a “wow” moment. Oh and that ending? Perfect!
#5 – Toy Story 2 (1999)When I first saw this film, I got instantly irritated with Jessie the Cowgirl, and her voice just hurts my head. But then she turned things around and by the time Sarah McLachlan’s “When She Loved Me” ended, I felt guilty for feeling indifferent to Jessie’s character while crying along with the entire audience in the cinema. This was the second time these pesky toys have done that. It was one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever shown in an animated film and everyone felt deeply for the toy doll.
#4 – Ratatouille (2007)I think I may have said “imaginative” and “inventive” too many times in just this one article, however, this is also true for Ratatouille. I can also say that this is the most delicious film in the history of animated movies, that is, if you can stomach rats preparing the menu. However, apart from the culinary treats that the film offers, it has a very important message that anyone who has any talents should take good note of. Add to that the lesson that many critics in different fields of expertise can learn, this movie becomes an instant classic.
#3 – Toy Story 3 (2010)Well if you can’t make a wrong step, then why stop walking? Toy Story 3, with Lee Unkrich at the helm, is simply the best of the series. It didn’t just stop with the dilemma of being forgotten, it also has the most bittersweet of goodbyes ever shown on film. That scene where Andy was about to turnover his most precious toys to Bonnie was both heartbreaking and bittersweet. The way Andy introduced each and every toy to Bonnie with love and care– worth a tear or two. That time Andy hesitated to handover Woody– five or six tears. That time Andy played with the whole gang for the last time– ten or eleven tears. That time Andy waved goodbye– now there’s a stream. And when Bonnie waved Woody’s hand to say goodbye to Andy– wailing! Okay maybe not really, but you do get the idea, right? I’ve never cried as much in any other Pixar films!
#2 – Inside Out (2015)Inside Out was a return to form for Pixar, after having a couple of seemingly average films preceding it. For the first time since Toy Story 3 (2010), I got so hyped up again for a Pixar release, and there’s a reason for it — this one is again directed by Pete Docter (obviously my favorite Pixar director). Docter doesn’t shy away from adult themes in any of his movies, and he treats his audiences as intelligent human beings. He doesn’t stop to explain things too much so the audience can follow along. His ideas are remarkably unique and he is able to make things interesting for kids while keeping it thought-provoking for adults. This film was just an emotional roller-coaster ride from beginning to finish. And as with most of the great Pixar movies, Inside Out isn’t afraid to break its audience hearts.
#1 – Up (2009)When Pixar’s UP was announced on April 2008, just about a few month’s earlier before Wall-E was released, the first thing I’ve looked for is its director. The moment I found out it was Pete Docter, I’m already sold. It was a year-long of keeping up with updates about the movie leading up to its release. It didn’t help cool the hype down even for a bit when I found out that there is also a dog. Not just a dog, but a golden retriever dog, which is only my favorite dog breed. Having known all these as early as 2008, I have decided that it is my favorite Pixar film, even if I haven’t seen a teaser trailer yet. On its first day of release, I watched it twice. It was everything I hoped for and so much more. That montage at the beginning is worth an Oscar on its own. It was the first Pixar film to be nominated for an Oscar Best Picture award, and it was also the first one to be shown in 3D. Everything from music to animation, from humor to its most emotional scenes, Up is just perfect. Much like Inside Out, the whole movie is put forward by many metaphors in life its audience can learn from, and it is all intelligently done and brilliantly presented in every thought-provoking ways possible. To me, this also has the most satisfying ending of all Pixar films. If you had to see only one Pixar movie in your life, this has to be it.
So there it is, my Pixar ranking as of 2016. Next year we will have two Pixar movies, Cars 3 during summer, and Coco towards November. I don’t see the top five being changed even after this, but I’m excited about Coco (Lee Unkrich) as that would be the first non-sequel Pixar movie after Inside Out. But you know, I love to be surprised so hopefully both these movies are great.
That all said, watch out for my Finding Dory review next week!
Have you seen all the above Pixar movies? Which one is your favorite? How would you rank these Pixar greats? Sound off at the comments section and let’s talk about it.