For No Particularly Good Reason, My Ranking of Pixar Films, From Best to Least Quality

1. Toy Story 2

2. The Incredibles

3. Wall-E

4. Toy Story

5. Monsters, Inc.

6. Up

7. Ratatouille

8. Toy Story 3

9. Finding Nemo

10. Monsters University

11. Brave

12. Cars

13. A Bug’s Life

14. Cars 2

Not ranked because not yet seen: Brave. But I can pretty much guarantee it’ll get a better ranking than Cars 2 (Update 12/7/12: Finally saw Brave and would slot it in between Finding Nemo and Cars).

Update 11/6/14: Updated to include Brave and Monsters University.

Also note: The quality decline from position one to position four is negligible. Positions five through nine additionally exist on a similarly marginally graded plateau a small drop below the first. Positions ten through thirteen are on another plateau a larger step down, and Cars 2 exists in a place I prefer to call “The Dreamworks Trench.”

Your thoughts and personal rankings are invited in the comments.

190 thoughts on “For No Particularly Good Reason, My Ranking of Pixar Films, From Best to Least Quality

  1. What about cars 2 was so bad? Admittedly I’d put them in roughly the same order maybe swapping 1 and 2, but “The trench” that seems a bit harsh. Just curious on the reasoning?

  2. As far as quality for putting a kid down in front of for a couple hours, gotta lower Toy Story III. That is just too sad for a kids story.

  3. There’s almost no daylight between us. I would move Monsters, Inc. down two slots and I’m tempted to call Toy Story 2 and Incredibles a tie, but otherwise this is the list I’d make. Thanks for saving me the trouble!

  4. Man, that’s hard. Here’s how I’d currently rank them. This will likely change (except for the very bottom) in about 30 seconds.

    1. Toy Story 3
    2. The Incredibles
    3. WALL-E
    4. Ratatouille
    5. Toy Story 2
    6. Monsters, Inc.
    7. Toy Story
    8. Finding Nemo
    9. Up*
    10. A Bug’s Life
    11. Cars

    * The opening sequence of Up, however, may be the best thing Pixar’s ever done.

    Haven’t seen Brave yet. As far as I’m aware, there never was a Cars 2.

  5. Toy Story 2. Interesting choice. You’re 100% right on Cars 2, it was like Dreamworks pulled some kind of wacky switcheroo with the prints as an F-U to Pixar.

  6. chefnorma:

    Fixed.

    Cameron Turner:

    I didn’t say Cars 2 was bad, although I don’t think it was particularly good — it was serviceable entertainment for small children. Every other Pixar film is significantly better, however. Also, it’s the first Pixar film where I really felt the reason it existed was to sell toys, rather than to exist for itself (Cars toys make a truckload of money — pun intended — for Disney).

    The Vent:

    Yes.

    Cpierson:

    “The opening sequence of Up, however, may be the best thing Pixar’s ever done.”

    I think there’s an excellent argument for that, yes.

  7. I don’t think I can support the ranking of Wall-E and Toy Story III below The Incredibles. I’ll bow to your professional expertise, but I’d put them up top.

    Not that I think Incredibles is awful or anything. It was a good film (even when Edna wasn’t on screen, though I think we can all agree she was the best part). But Wall-E worked better for me.

    I also loved Brave, but it’s so recent that I’m not sure it’s fair to rank it– I think it needs some time to season before it gets judged.

  8. For the most part I agree, but I believe I would’ve moved Nemo and Monsters up a few notches each. John Goodman did a great job in that movie! And the range of characters and personalities in Finding Nemo was spot on. Loved it.

    Your books are awesome too, btw. Thanks for making me laugh at work with Red Shirts.

  9. I can go along with your rankings for the most part. A Bug’s Life should probably be ahead of Cars, though, because Cars had obvious flaws (by which I mean the world didn’t make any freaking sense) while A Bug’s Life was more successful within its own ambitions.

  10. I’d be interested in a ‘ranking the Toy Stories” post. My favorite is 3, but only when having viewed the other two. Seen by itself, it doesn’t have nearly the impact. Other than that, the top 5 or 6 are just hard to rank, they’re all so damn good.

  11. @cpierson – I’m right there with you on the opening sequence of Up.

    @Scalzi – My 3-year-old daughter and I disagree with you on your ranking of Cars. (I completely agree with you on Cars 2, though.) My personal list has it on the same tier as Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo.

  12. So Woody is the Alpha Male? Buzz comes in to challenge the Alpha but ends up as a Beta. Hamm, Slinky-Dog, and Rex are lesser Betas down the chain. Mr. Potato Head is a Gamma and doesn’t really care who leads as long as they don’t mess with Mrs. Potato Head.

  13. Dang, harsh on “Cars 2!” while I agree with its ranking, I rather liked it for some aspects… like its depiction of other countries according to the “average” American. Not enough for it to rise above any other Pixar film, but it had its positives for me.

    I think I’d have put “Toy Story 2″ a bit lower and “3” higher, but otherwise your groupings are about right.

    Probably the “best” Pixar film for me in terms of quality and delivering something fun was “The Incredibles.” They totally nailed the superhero movie.

  14. Hey, I like Dreamworks stuff, particularly Sinbad. Sure, it was PC’d all to hell, setting it in Ancient Greece timeout the story and the way they handled a goddess was great! Plot, pacing and graphics are also superb.

  15. Sorry for the double comment here…. after reading other notes, I gotta add I agree with cpierson on “Up’s” opening sequence. :) it could have been a short film all on its own.

    Interesting idea: rank the Pixar shorts!

  16. Hard to argue with your list. Just out of curiosity what do you think of Pixar’s shorts? ‘Lifted’ speaks to the sci-fi nerd in me. But then I love ‘Presto’ and ‘Jack-Jack Attack’ too. And ‘One Man Band’ was smart and funny. Then there’s ‘Luxo Jr.’ that sort of started it all — classic.

  17. A good list, but I have one important note, John:

    On the day after you pack Athena off to college, you will discover that Toy Story 3 has shot waaaaay up the list.

    It happened to us, and not just because College-Age Andy looks a lot like our oldest kid.

  18. Alas, the Toy Story sequence was ruined for me by seeing the first (repeatedly) with the Swedish dub. While the Swedish dubs tend to be excellent (though they got told off for Lion King, in which the Swedish voice (Richard Wolff) of Scar was percieved to be much more seductive, sinister, and scary than Jeremy Irons), the casting for Toy Story didn’t work for me.

    Somehow, the actor picked for Woody managed to portray him as a greater jerk than Hanks did, and I developed a deep dislike for the character which lingers even when seeing them with the original audio track. So I’d keep them in the order you have them, but drop them all below Ratatoulle.

    Cars 2 is the only Pixar film I haven’t had the faintest interest in seeing.

  19. The list is good, and I agree with it.

    But today, for the first time, I noticed the ghostly visage that appears as a background to our host’s comments. Has that been there since the redesign? Why has it escaped my attention until now? There *is* a picture there, right, guys? It’s not me?!?

  20. Hmm. For me:

    1. The Incredibles
    1.5. WALL-E (first 40 minutes)
    2. Ratatouille
    3. Toy Story
    4. Monsters, Inc.
    5. Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 (tie)
    7. Finding Nemo
    8. WALL-E (entire film)
    9. Brave
    10. A Bug’s Life
    11. Cars

    Not seen: Up, Cars 2

    Obviously I like Brad Bird’s stuff. WALL-E’s mostly dialogue-free opening sequence is nearly perfect, but it became something much more ordinary once the human characters appeared. The first Toy Story is less technically polished and less poignant than its sequels, but I find myself laughing a lot harder at it. Same deal for Monsters, Inc.; it’s a really funny movie.

    Brave is a good movie, but it feels more like Walt Disney Feature Animation product (or possibly really good Dreamworks, like How To Train Your Dragon) than Pixar product. It’s unfortunate that their first movie with a female protagonist had to reach for the “princess movie” toolset, though it’s at least a quasi-subverted princess movie in the mold of Mulan. It’s impressively scary in a few parts, enough so that it disturbed my then-5-year-old daughter much more than Toy Story 3 did. But the story felt more cookie-cutter than most Pixar films do.

  21. I agree with Annalee on Wall-E,. My reasonings are as such: Wall-E, as a story, is not bad, but story-wise, worse than Toy Story III & the Incredibles. The ending of Wall-E I felt was a tad heavy-handed (pun unintentional) and not as well-handled as Toy Story III — an incredibly difficult feat for a decade-spanning franchise — and the Incredibles, which as a pastiche could have been handled extremely poorly, but was quite deftly written.

    I also disagree with your ranking of Ratatouille as 7th; animation-wise, this was one of the most complex animations one could have done — a realistic version of a working kitchen, complete with layer-on-layer of visual scattering effects of steam, smoke, fog; a character-driven plot with a lot of physical humor; and maintaining the feel of Paris throughout the whole film, while still making it relatable to the average American. It’s a breathtaking accomplishment. I would put it much higher, in the top 3-4 at least.

  22. Wandered over to plug the UP opening sequence, saw that territory was covered sufficiently, wanders off.

  23. I liked Up best, followed by Wall-E and the Incredibles. I am certainly no one’s bellweather for popular taste though.

  24. I think the important takeaway here is the remarkable quality overall of the Pixar portfolio. Many of these have been watched and re-watched and enjoyed by everyone in our household, even recently. They must be doing something right over there.

  25. I agree with you on there being 3 tiers, with Cars 2 on the bottom tier by itself, and with very little space between movies on the same tier. There’s a bigger gap between Tier II and Tier III than between Tier I and Tier II.

    Omitting Bug’s Life (which I haven’t seen) and Brave (which I’m still pondering), I get:

    Tier I:
    Incredibles
    Toy Story 3
    Wall-E
    Toy Story 2
    Up

    Tier II:
    Toy Story
    Monsters, Inc.
    Ratatouille
    Finding Nemo
    Cars

    Tier III:
    Cars 2

    (ranked solely on the basis to my answer to the question: which of these 2 Pixar movies do you like better? reiterated multiple times)

  26. @Shane, I also saw the subtle alpha layer on Scalzi’s posts for the first time today.

    But I’ve read a lot more of Whatever than I usually do – including some excellent Malleting, which reveals Scalzi’s visage at its most terrifying.

    (I refuse to believe that it’s the length of the Mallet posts that makes the ghostly face more visible. That’s far too prosaic an explanation.)

  27. I will rank Pixar movies by whether I watch (or will watch, in the case of Brave) them over and over or not. It’s a good indicator of what I find most appealing – typically a solid story with compelling characters, and a lot of humor.
    1. Monsters, Inc.
    2. Finding Nemo
    3. The Incredibles
    4. Wall-E
    5. Toy Story trilogy because it is a continuum in a way no other animation movie series has offered
    6. Up
    7. Brave
    8. Cars
    9. Ratatouille
    10. A Bug’s Life
    Never saw the second Cars movie because it was clear I would be disappointed. I live in the universe where it doesn’t exist.

  28. Ratatouille may very well be the best animated film ever made. I mean, what’s not to love about a rat cooking French cuisine? Certainly deserves a higher spot than 7th, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Wall-E would come in a close 2nd on my list…

  29. Damn you, Scalzi! Now I’m going to have this rattling around in my brain all day! I tried listing them but had to delete it, it was too hard.

  30. Tier One:
    1. The Incredibles
    2. Toy Story 3
    – How to Train Your Dragon (this is how much I love this movie)

    Tier Two:
    3. Toy Story 2
    4. Up
    5. WALL-E
    6. Toy Story
    7. Brave

    Tier Three:
    8. Cars
    9. Monsters, Inc
    10. Cars 2

    Tier Four:
    11. A Bug’s Life
    12. Ratatouille – Only Pixar movie I have no desire to see again, Still better than most movies.
    .
    Not seen: Finding Nemo – the bits I have seen would put it in Tier Three.

  31. Ranked for the impact they had on me. Some just connected with me. Others didn’t. I own Monsters, Inc, but should pick up the other top 4. Anything 6 and below are meh for me.

    1. Wall-E
    2. The Incredibles
    3. Brave
    4. UP
    5. Monsters, Inc.
    6. Ratatouille
    7. Toy Story
    8. Finding Nemo
    9. A Bug’s Life
    10. Cars
    11. Toy Story 2

    Haven’t seen – Toy Story 3 and Cars 2.

  32. For me the list would go like this:

    1. Monsters, Inc.
    2. The Incredibles
    3. Wall-E
    4. Up
    5. Toy Story
    6. Toy Story 3
    7. Finding Nemo
    8. Toy Story 2
    9. Ratatouille
    10. Cars
    11. A Bug’s Life
    12. Cars 2

    Also omitting Brave because I haven’t seen it (sigh, I’m a 30 year old man and my grown up friends aren’t too pushed on it. I’d also feel very sad if I had to borrow a little cousin for a couple of hours, no matter how much they’d love the movie!).

    I actually didn’t like Cars, Cars 2, A Bug’s Life, or Ratatouille enough to watch them again, and I’d rank them all joint last.

    One more voice to the pile: cpierson’s opinion of Up is perfect. It breaks my heart every time I see it.

  33. Easy-peasy:

    1) The Incredibles
    2) Toy Stories 1, 2 & 3
    3) Ratatouille
    4) Brave
    5) Up
    6) WALL•E
    7) Monsters Inc.
    8) A Bug’s Life
    9) Finding Nemo
    10) Cars 1 & 2

    Notes:

    Have not seen either Cars movies from beginning to end and they are the only ones I did not see in a theater.

    Finding Nemo is the only Pixar movie I walked out early on. My wife called* somewhere around the sea turtle scene and whatever request she had or errand she wanted me to run was, at the time, much more interesting than what was going on on the screen. I found the voice characterizations to be pretty weak, as well. I like Albert Brooks, but Marlon was just too neurotic to sympathize with. I identified with him completely, mind, but I couldn’t get invested in him. Also don’t care for Ellen Degeneres (would have preferred Paula Poundstone, if casting to “type”), nor Willem Dafoe (maybe would have preferred Christopher Walken or Sam Elliott as Gil).
    * Yes, I had the phone on vibrate. I’m not a savage.

    Monsters Inc.: Billy Crystal ruins everything for me. He’s one of the reasons I don’t like Princess Bride as much as most people. Well, him and Peter Cooke. And Wallace Shawn*. And Robin Wright and ROUS with zippers up their backs and Mark Knopfler’s wimpy music. Bleh. But I digress.
    * Who is, however, AWESOME in the Toy Stories.

    Brave is gorgeous, tells an original story and is perfectly cast. I love that Pixar consistently casts for the just-right voices, not the most popular A-list actors who happen to have a couple afternoons to kill (lookin’ at you, Dreamworks).

    Toy Story: “Way to go, Idaho!” It never gets old. I had a Pizza Planet alien on my desk. LOVE the Binford tool box that Buzz tips off Sid’s work bench. Maybe the best work that Randy Newman, Joss Whedon and Wallace Shawn have ever done.

    Actually I don’t expect there to ever be a better Pixar movie than The Incredibles. It’s in my all-time top 10 of all movies, (which aren’t ever ranked). I was hooked from the first teaser trailer, when Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible was trying to squeeze into his pants, and the buckle popped off and broke his lamp. I didn’t know what the story was, but I knew it was going to be great. Not one minute of this movie is wrong. The characters, the voices, the story, the design — all perfect. Even the supporting players are all as good as the leads: Jack-Jack’s ditzy baby sitter, Edna Mode (“Fight! Win!”) and Samuel L. Jackson screaming in frustration, “Where is my super suit!?”

  34. 1. Monsters Inc (Judged by the fact that the kids kept watching it and I found it still enjoyable after the third time.)
    2. The Incredibles – dang good yarn and witty to boot
    3. Wall E – cute and different …. and loved the future view of super obesity!
    4. Cars, Bugs etc and all the rest – all not too bad, not too interesting.

  35. 1. Toy Story

    2. The Incredibles

    3. Up

    4. Toy Story 2

    5. Toy Story 3

    6. Finding Nemo

    7. Monsters, Inc.

    8. Wall-E

    9. Ratatouille

    10. A Bug’s Life

    11. Cars

    12. Cars 2

    To be fair, I’ve only seen about five minutes of Cars 2. It seemed in keeping with Cars, which was an okay film, but when ranking against other Pixar movies must be at the bottom. Wall-E did break ground in animation and was brilliant in its non-verbal framework, but the story had a lot of problems. It’s tops in the plucky robot saves the world films category, though. But I think the other films work together as a whole slightly better than Wall-E does. That being said, there’s not a great deal of graduation between these rankings for me either, except that Cars and A Bug’s Life, while decent films, aren’t in the same class as the rest. Also, while I get the Dreamworks Trench idea, Cars 2 is really a classic Disney move. I did not rank Brave because I haven’t seen it yet, but we intend to. The kid may be a teen now, but we watch Pixar films. They always go somewhere interesting, even Cars. And the shorts they do are magnificent. And now I’m in trouble, because for no particular reason I did this survey. Curse you, Scalzi.

  36. I’d put “The Incredibles” at #1, personally. Nothing like giving the kids a healthy dose of Randian philosophy in cartoon form. :)

  37. Oh, and re individual accomplishments: special kudos to Ratatouille for making me accept a kitchen full of rats without flinching, and to Wall-E for Most Likeable Cockroach.

  38. Timeless classics:
    1. Wall-E
    2. Up

    Excellent movies:
    3. The Incredibles
    4. Finding Nemo
    5. Monster’s Inc.
    6. Toy Story
    7. Toy Story 2

    Good movies:
    8. Cars
    9. A Bug’s Life

    Bad movies:
    10. Brave
    11. Toy Story 3

    Have not seen Ratatouille or Cars 2.

  39. Oops – ‘Finding Nemo’ was pretty good too and desreve a good ranking, loved the story, and all the little asides and especially the seagulls: “Maaaate, maaaate? maaaate.”

  40. I am loving this thread, and I’m finding it fascinating what movies people disagree on. I haven’t done any real analysis yet, but it looks like people are talking the most about Ratatouille and WALL-E.

  41. I’d rank those I’ve seen…

    EXCELLENT:
    1. Ratatouille
    2. Cars

    GOOD AS FAR AS THEY GO:
    3. Brave
    4. Cars 2 (which should have been titled “Mater: The Spy Who Lubed Me,” which would have framed it properly)

    I DON’T REMEMBER THESE AT ALL, SO I GUESS I DIDN’T LOVE THEM OR HATE THEM:
    5. Monsters, Inc.
    6. A Bug’s Life

    EXCELLENT UNTIL THE FATALLY FLAWED ENDINGS:
    7. The Incredibles
    8. Toy Story

    WHY DID I JUST SPEND 90 MINUTES ON THIS:
    9. WALL-E

  42. I would personally put them in this order:
    1. Toy Story 2
    2. Toy Story
    3. Toy Story 3
    4. WALL-E
    5. Finding Nemo
    6. The Incredibles
    7. Brave
    8. Monsters Inc.
    9. Bug’s Life
    10. Ratatoullie
    I do not include the Cars movies because I was never into them, and I thought they kinds sucked. I obviously am biased towards Toy Story because I was born in the 90’s. Monsters Inc. never appealed to me for some reason, but I loved Bug’s Life. I put Brave down at #7 because it needs time to age, and I felt that ( like @Matt McIrvin) the first 40 min of WALL-E was good enough to warrant it 4th. Ratatoullie never did anything for me. I never liked characters like Linguini, and so it flopped for me.

  43. I’d be interested to hear why you think Toy Story 2 is the best of the lot. Having watched all three numerous times with my 2-year-old, I find that one the least enjoyable of the trilogy. Toy Story 3 is the most enjoyable for me, but that might just be it working as the bookend of the series.

  44. I was going to be very upset until I saw the addendum about the opening sequence of Up. I doubt there are eight minutes of film that can set me bawling so reliably. To be fair, though, after that the movie’s better than average, but not great.

    I was disappointed with Brave, but only because my expectations for Pixar are so high. It’s still better than 95% of what Hollywood produces, but as others have said it’s pretty standard Disney fare. I appreciated that the main conflict was about relationships, and from what I understand of mother-daughter tensions, very true to life, but it also relied on a lot of questionable “Hollywood medieval tropes,” including the role of a woman, that got under my skin a bit. I’d be curious about your reaction once you’ve watched it, John.

    I think my personal favorite is Wall-E. Much like Up, it’s incredible what Pixar can achieve with little or no dialogue. It’s also my personal theory that the inspiration for lazy future humans who live in mobile chairs came from someone at Pixar walking around a Disney theme park. So many Rascals.

  45. My ranking…

    1. Toy Story 2
    7. Ratatouille
    2. The Incredibles
    8. Toy Story 3
    5. Monsters, Inc.
    4. Toy Story
    3. Wall-E
    11. A Bug’s Life
    6. Up
    9. Finding Nemo
    10. Cars
    12. Cars 2

  46. Ok, my ranking:
    1. Brave – this is totally Due to the emotional hammering it gave me. Yeah, have a headstrong 11 year old daughter and have been teaching her archery for many years and to start off the movie with the dad saying the exact same thing I first told my daughter, well, it was wiping the floor with me. For parents of a soon-to-be teenage girl, this one was hits close to home. Story-wise, I’d have to rank it after Incredibles, Wall-E, Toy Story 1/2, and Monsters.
    2. Incredibles – so many great characters that live and breathe and great meta-commentary on life and superheroes. And Edna!
    3. Wall-E – Pixar’s best love story and heaviest message.
    4. UP!
    5. Finding Nemo – Good but not one I like to rewatch.
    5 – All the rest. And I haven’t seen Cars 2.

  47. There’s really too many dimensions for me to make a straight up ranking. Visuals, storyboarding, plot strength, chracterization, voice actors, themes, and of course personal meaning. Nothing new to anyone here of course. But imo some films that score similarly overall have wildly different component scores, which makes a single best-to-worst list too difficult.

    A few random remarks:
    * I’m surprised The Incredibles scores so high with everyone. It was a fun movie and solid all around but it didn’t really wow me.

    * Wall-E was weak on plot and themes, in my opinion, but has some of the very best visuals of the whole group.

    * My dad was an abusive asshole. Marlin was whiny and annoying for most of Finding Nemo, but he was a dad who loved his kid and that makes the movie a bit of a tear-jerker for me and further up the list than most people seem to be placing it.

    * I haven’t seen TS3, A Bug’s Life, or either of the Cars movies, and of those the only one I’d really make an effort to watch was TS3.

    * Also haven’t seen Brave; it got some mixed reviews from people whose opinions I tend to consider trustworthy, and I decided to wait for the video (“the video” haha how quaint. I mean “the netflix” of course).

    * Monsters, Inc was probably on par or slightly above with The Incredibles for me, maybe a little more thematic connection. Ratatouille a little below them both.

    * I loved everything about UP.

  48. I don’t know if it’s the best, but Monsters Inc. is still my favorite Pixar movie. That’s followed closely by Toy Story 1/2/3 (whichever one I have seen most recently) and Finding Nemo. I have to put A Bug’s Life at the bottom of my list, but that’s mostly because I don’t remember it very well. As for Cars 2, it is my 3 year-old’s favorite thing in the world, so I’ve now seen it about a thousand times, and I think it’s one of the most fun movies they’ve made. It doesn’t have the same emotional punch that the others do, but as a popcorn flick, it works really well.

  49. Pants@11:34 – Don’t watch Toy Story 3 on its own. It probably works if you haven’t seen TS1 and 2, but it works much better as a continuation of the bigger story. It picks up themes from the first two and kind of relies on you already having an emotional connection to the characters and their relationships to each other.

  50. I would move UP up.

    I had to type that, but it’s true as well as being visually fun. Speaking of visual fun, I love the way UP tells stories without words. On the other hand, TOY STORY 3, which is sad it’s true, has the most wonderful scene I know of to show a kid taking that last step to being grown up since the one and only time I watched OLD YELLER– and Pixar didn’t have to kill any beloved animals to do it.

  51. I think that Incredibles is number one for me. It was also the first movie I shared with my son in the movie theater. It also makes the geek in me sooo happy. HOWEVER, I have seen Brave twice already with my 8 year old daughter and it is a close #2. In a beautiful, stylistic movie with great characters and chase scenes, the true heart of the story is a love story to mothers and daughters. Most kids movies have either killed off the moms or sidelined them completely. This is a completely stereotyped Ren Fest setting but the interactions of the mom and daughter are dead on. Also, (spoiler) I LOVED the fact that the girl didn’t end up with a guy!!!! I recommend this movie to anyone but especially anyone with daughters.

    P.S. Pixar Rules!

  52. daedylus, I have seen the first two Toy Stories. Not sure why I didn’t actually comment on them above!

  53. Although, technically not a Pixar movie because Pixar and Disney were merging while filming it and probably more importantly it doesn’t have Ratzenberger in it. I would rank Meet the Robinson:s as the number one of the modern Disney films

  54. Ah geez, it’s pretty hard to pick differences in that top four or five. But i’d definitely rate “Up” higher up into that top group.

    I’d rate into three tiers:

    First tier: most of them.
    Second tier: Ratatouille
    Third tire: Cars movies, A Bug’s Life

    But, then again, I wouldn’t say any of them are bad! Even a “bad” Pixar movie is well above most productions, animated or no.

  55. Many of us in the scuba diving community would rank Finding Nemo higher, because the animation is so realistic. My list:
    Toy Story 2
    The Incredibles
    Toy Story
    Wall-E
    Finding Nemo
    Up
    Toy Story 3
    Ratatouille
    Monsters Inc.
    Cars
    Bug’s Life
    Cars 2
    I haven’t seen Brave yet, so cannot rank it.

  56. My list looks a little different.

    1. The Incredibles

    2. Wall-E

    3. Up

    4. Toy Story

    5. Finding Nemo

    6. Toy Story 2

    7. Ratatouille

    8. Brave

    9. Monsters, Inc.

    10. Cars

    11. A Bug’s Life

  57. My perspective is that of a dad of young girls. Does the movie keep their interest (they have high standards for their entertainment, which I strongly encourage) and does it annoy me are the most important factors.

    By those criteria all the Pixar movies we ‘ve seen are good enough that they’re all welcome in our home.

    In order of my preference:

    Brave
    Monsters Inc
    Incredibles
    Finding Nemo
    Toy Story
    Cars
    Bugs Life
    Toy Story 2
    Toy Story 3

    I haven’t seen any of the others. My kids have seen Ratatouille and were entirely unenamored of it. They’ve also seen Up but have expressed no interest in seeing it again. I honestly didn’t know there was a Cars 2 and perhaps I’m happier that way.

  58. Maybe it’s because I have two little boys but the Cars movies rank pretty high for us. Add to that the fact that Cars 2 is part of the hospital’s On Demand system and my four year-old has been watching it non-stop this week I’ve had a lot of time to ‘appreciate’ it. While Cars 2 definitely doesn’t have the same heart that the top tier Pixar movies have, I think it only suffers in comparison with other Pixar movies. Though my husband and I agreed last summer when it came out that it felt like an obvious marketing opportunity.

    An aside to John, thank you for your good wishes when signing OMW at Comic Con – I had asked my friends to swing by the Tor booth for some Human Division swag but they decided to line up for your signing and see the Paul and Storm performance and had a great time!

  59. This is a special ranking, based on the number of times the movie made me cry the first time I watched it. And to give you an idea, the only time I’ve cried OTHER than at a Pixar film in the last five years was my grandmother’s funeral and when Curiosity landed on Mars.

    And if you’re waiting to see Brave, please do try to catch it before it leaves theaters. It’s one of those films you need a superhuge screen to appreciate the artistry, in my ever so humble opinion.

    UP (3 times)
    The Incredibles (2 times)
    Monsters, Inc. (2 times, but one of them was ’cause I was laughing so hard)
    Brave (2 times)
    WALL-E (once)
    Toy Story 3 (once)
    Finding Nemo (once)

    Did not cry at all:
    Toy Story
    Toy Story 2
    Cars
    A Bug’s Life

    Did not see:
    Cars 2

  60. It’s hard for me to put them in a straight line ranking, but I can sort them into categories
    Liked a lot: Toy Story, Toy Story 3. The incredibles
    Liked: Wall-E, Monsters Inc.
    OK: Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2
    Really didn’t like: Cars
    Haven’t seen the others.

    I don’t understand why Mattel allowed that portrayal of Barbie & Ken in Toy Story 3, but I loved it.

  61. OK my list
    1. Incredibles
    2. Ratatouille
    3. Toy Story 3
    4. Toy Story
    5. WALL-E (first 40 min is amazing though)
    6. UP! (opening sequence alone is #1 in my opinion, still makes me sniffle)
    7. Monsters, INC
    8. Toy Story 2
    9. Finding Nemo
    10. Bugs Life
    11. Cars
    12. Cars 2

    Haven’t seen Brave yet.

  62. Why is there so little Finding Nemo love? To this day it is the only Pixar movie that I have gone back to see multiple times in theaters. I’m not saying it’s their greatest achievement but it certainly deserves a spot higher than just above the Cars movies. Yes, as a scientist and a diver I was probably more into the ocean setting and nerdy jokes about the supraesophageal ganglion than most, but I thought on a whole it was sweet and funny and gorgeous.

  63. It’s true, while I don’t think Toy Story 3 is the best of the series overall (the dark tone of the prison-break plot is a bit much), its ending is amazing as a capstone to the entire trilogy. The most wrenching scene in the movie has a surprise ending that feels like (though probably wasn’t) a payoff they’d spent the last 15 years carefully setting up. And the final scenes are lovely.

  64. I’ll bite, though not so much with rank order as class order (it’s hard to fine-tune how much more or less I liked Up vs. The Incredibles or Toy Story 3, but I can generally class them together). With the caveat that I haven’t seen Brave nor Cars 2 (the latter of which I have no plans ever to see, based on the ranking that follows):

    Class 1 (Sublime): The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, Up, Wall-E
    Class 2 (Excellent Movies): Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo
    Class 3 (Generally good quality, I don’t mind rewatching): Ratatouille, Monster’s Inc, Bug’s Life
    Class 4 (In my private version of reality, Pixar never made these): Cars

  65. Ditto the praise heaped on the beginning of Up. The rest was fun (“Squirrel!”), but the beginning definitely had me tearing up … without spoken dialogue! Didn’t hurt that it was a sneaky homage to Tracy and Hepburn, with a Kirk Douglas styled bad guy, too.

  66. Cars 2 actually made me angry. Really, I’d expect more from the interns at pixar. Cars was at least fun to watch. 2 seemed to be made as an excuse for the toy merch.

    My list of the top 100 pixar films would have Cars 2 somewhere in the 90s.

    What? They don’t have 100 films you say?

    exactly.

  67. Jam @11:46 — Is there a first sentence missing there? What are you referring to? John Ratzenberger has been in every Pixar movie without exception. Sometimes it’s just not obvious who he is.

  68. The top 7 or 8 on this list are so tightly packed that it might as well be an 8-way tie. I could arbitrarily swap any of these rankings based on which I watched most recently or what I had for breakfast.

    Fortunately Cars 2, much like Highlander 2, was killed in development and never made.

  69. The wonderful thing about lists like this is that we all get to tell you how wrong you are… ;-)

    In my particular case, you are so wrong about Nemo. Having watched it WAY too many times with my then toddler, it is one of the best movies ever made. Never failed to amuse me and her. Quite an accomplishment.

  70. I don’t get all the hate for Cars. Is it the Owen Wilson Factor? Despite his presence, I still liked that one. It was about getting back to your roots (through forced nostalgia, sure) and taking a moment to appreciate what you have. I was entirely comfortable letting my then 3-year-old daughter watch it.

    Cars 2 was a steaming pile of dreck that was about explosions and gunfire and calling people stupid. I remain a bit sad that Cars 2 was her first movie theater experience.

    In any case:

    The Incredibles
    Toy Story
    Toy Story 2
    Cars
    Finding Nemo
    Brave
    Monsters Inc.
    Ratatouille
    Toy Story 3
    Wall-E
    A Bug’s Life
    Cars 2

    I haven’t seen Up, but clearly need to fix that.

  71. I don’t get all the love for The Incredibles. I thought was a movie in need of a plot.

    1. WALL-E
    2. Toy Story 2
    3. Monsters, Inc
    4. Toy Story
    5. Up
    6. Finding Nemo
    7. Cars
    8. Ratatouille
    9. A Bug’s Life
    10. The Incredibles.
    11. Toy Story 3
    I haven’t seen Cars 2. I thought Toy Story 3 was the most relentlessly depressing movie I have ever seen. Schindler’s List with toys.

  72. I love them all so much, I can’t rank them. I’ve actually tried several times. Oh i should mention I have not seen Wall-e or Cars 2. But all the others? Yes a gazillion times. And a lot of them make me all teary eyed which I LOVE.

  73. Cars 2 was proof that even John Lasseter can make a mistake – which actually makes me feel just a skosh better about the numerous ones I make on a day to day basis. I do wonder though if for most studios it would be considered one of their better efforts – it’s only when cast in the light of the other Pixar films (and, perhaps, our expectations of Pixar films) that it falls off the cliff. Or, perhaps it really is as bad as Mr. Scalzi thinks it is…

    For my money, I’d put Incredibles as number one – they got me when I realized the point (if any) of the movie was the line “If everyone’s special, then nobody is.” The best commentary on the culture of political correctness on film.

    Next, I’d have to say Up. As previously noted by others, the first 10 minutes of that film may be the best thing they’ve done. I’d also propose that the last few minutes (the scout awards ceremony and afterwards sitting on the curb) is nearly it’s equal.

  74. I can’t argue with this, but I suppose if I made the list, I might shuffle it around a bit.

    In my estimation, Monsters, Inc. is part of the group where the quality decline is negligible. I’m biased, though because it is a very special film to me and my wife. We had my wife’s cousin and aunt play “If I didn’t have You” on sax and piano at our wedding. It was awesome.

  75. I have only seen a few of these, so I can’t really comment on relative quality, but did want to say I loved Ratatouille ’cause I have had pet rats in the past and think they’re awesome :-)

  76. I wasn’t fond of Brave. As I have a young daughter, I was hoping it would be a movie I could show to her to give her a good, strong, female role model, but the heroine in Brave is spoiled, annoying, entitled, and, well, evil.

  77. Also, this seems like a good opportunity to post this, the most astute observation I’ve ever seen regarding why Pixar films are so vastly superior to Dreamwork’s offerings:

    Incidentally, I couldn’t find the original link on the artist’s site for attribution of this comic, if anyone knows it please correct me.

  78. Personally, I loved Brave, The Incredibles, Wall-E (though the ending was a bit heavy handed, yes), and Finding Nemo best. UP! never fails to make me cry at the opening scene, and it’s a fun ride. Ratatouille is adorable and appeals to the foodie in me. The Toy Stories were all good, but I just didn’t get as in to them as most people seem to (don’t hurt me!). Monsters Inc. is cute as all hell, and Boo was just…yea. A Bug’s Life is meh, but not bad. Cars was okay, didn’t see and don’t want to see Cars 2, and I can’t believe they’re making Planes.

  79. I would list UP higher; and TS3 has just about the best ending to any film that I’ve ever seen.

    Would be interested in your take IRON GIANT. Again, anyone who has every wondered how a piece of fiction should end could take notes there.

  80. I don’t know how to rank them as movies, my favorites are Up, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Brave.

    Matt McIrvin: Not sure why everyone wants to dismiss Brave. The main character is a princess, but she is not looking for true love, nor does she find it. Its a story about her relationship with her mother, and if you look at it as inspired by the Miazaki films you’ll get it.

  81. Ratatouille is #1 for me, with Incredibles and Wall-E second. As a former chef the food culture rang true, especially the scene where Anton Ego is catapulted back to his childhood with the first bite of ratatouille. Having young kids skews ones view as well. They loved Cars 2. Good enough for me.

  82. @MarySue: You didn’t cry at Toy Story 2? In the name of God how? It takes about four notes of the beginning of the Sarah McLachlan song before I tear up like I AM DOING RIGHT NOW.

    Pixar movies makes me cry more than any other movie, except maybe Return of the King (DEATH! bellow the Rohirrim, and down I go) and Breaking the Waves. My wife gently mocks me whenever it happens, and then I threaten to show her the beginning of Up again and she becomes more sympathetic.

    Up, Monsters Inc. (kitty!), WALL-E, TS2 and (especially dear God) 3, and Nemo have all done it. I suspect Ratatouille probably would now too, now that I’ve been to Paris. And The Incredibles, now that I have kids. I’m actually a bit afraid of Brave, because what I’ve seen of Merida reminds me of my four-year-old and HOLY CRAP HERE I GO AGAIN

  83. Thirteen flicks and only one with a female protag, and not exactly breaking out of female stereotypes with that one, either. Typical. Sigh.

    Raising a daughter has it bothered you that the overwhelming majority of kid’s movies focus on male protagonists? And that if girls are featured they are usually “girlie” stereotypes? Yes, if I dig hard enough I’ll come up with an exception, but not for the most part. I find it so depressing.

  84. I think the beginning (pre-second-robot) section of Wall-E is charming, but I actively despise the second half of the film: the misanthropy, the implausibility of the plot and motivations (judged, obviously after conceding all sorts of implausible things to the writers), the dislike of science, etcetera.

    I have similar problems with Up: the five-minute intro is a true masterpiece, but the romp that follows makes no sense and presents a twisted and counter-productive view of humanity in general and science and scientists in particular. And, again, none of the characters or the plot really makes much sense, even after you concede all sorts of things a being necessary to the set-up.

    You could maybe give Finding Nemo a bit of a boost for its cinematic quality. It immerses the viewer in sweeping vistas of a strange new world in a way that some of the others can’t, because they look at the familiar (if sometimes from different perspectives, such as a three-inch tall action figure or rat). And – unlike Wall-E and Up, which teach a hate for science, scientists, and engineers – it tells children there are wonders in the world to discover.

    I haven’t seen any of the Cars films. Just from the trailers, it impresses me that apparently the original Cars doesn’t seem to be received with the loathing people possess for Cars 2; the criticisms people make of Cars 2 seem appropriate to the impression the trailers for Cars give of the film.

  85. Only one Pixar movie made me choke back tears, and that was Toy Story 3. The Incredibles is the one in the list that I prefer to rewatch the most. My kids like Monsters, Inc. the best.

    As far as ranking the movies, I don’t see the point. It is better to enjoy or avoid the movies on their own merits.

    I’m going to print this post and stick it in my copy of 24 Frames into the Future. I miss your Filmcritic.com column. I really missed it after seeing Prometheus, because there was so much potential discussion that came out of the movie.

  86. I’m in the crowd that thinks Finding Nemo should be bumped much higher. I think it’s a Tier 1 movie. Other than that I pretty much agree with the Scalzian ranking. I would put Brave where Finding Nemo is; Tier 2, and not the best of Tier 2 at that. I really disliked the fact that the movie was about whether or not a girl could achieve her dreams in spite of being a girl (really, in 2012 we’re still making that movie?) and much of the actual plot just did not work. However, it was still pretty entertaining to watch, and was way better than either Cars movie.

  87. “* The opening sequence of Up, however, may be the best thing Pixar’s ever done.”
    When I went to see Up, I picked it over another movie because I needed something light, fun, entertaining, happy. Five minutes into the movie I thought I was going to die. Certainly the opening section was one of the best short stories I have ever scene. The execution was perfect.

    The rest of the movie was doomed from the start, there was no possible way that it could be better than the opening.

  88. I agree with MNmom & others that _Brave_ is a *huge* subversion of Disney princess movies.

    1. Exactly one romance in the *whole movie* — Fergus loves Helena. It’s not clear that she loves him.

    2. Women, including the main character and the mother, have agency, ambiguity, and depth of character — they aren’t just ‘purely good’ and ‘purely bad’, like (say) the women in _Tangled_. Dehumanizing people like that, making them NPCs, is *poisonous*; doing it specifically to women is a traditional and effective means of social control.

    _Brave_ isn’t Chekhov, unless compared to the Standard Received Princess Narrative.

    3. Related to the characters’ having agency — the political resolution at the end is acheived by logical argument and common consensus, not by a higher power handing over authority.

    _Brave_ isn’t Toqueville, unless compared to the Standard Received Cod-Medieval Fantasy.

    4. They do a great job of the horse being expressive but not anthropomorphized (especially in the Don’t Go In The Standing Stones scene).

    _Brave_ isn’t _The Expression of Emotions in Man and the Animals_, unless compared to … etc etc.

  89. catfriend: if you think only “Brave” has a female protagonist, I recommend watching “Incredibles” again.

  90. As a father of two young boys, I’ve seen (or heard, from the driver’s seat of the minivan) “Cars” dozens of times. On initial viewing, I thought it was “meh,” but I’ve come to rank it WAY ahead of “Nemo,” “Bug’s Life,” or “Up” (though I’ve only seen that one twice – my boys have zero interest in seeing it again). It’s loaded with clever jokes and Mater has grown from being irritating to beloved. (Lightning: “The Piston Cup!” Mater: “He did *what* in a cup?”)

    I can’t even watch “Toy Story 3″ with my 5-year old in the room because he worries that I’m hurt because I cry so damn much at the end.

  91. 1. The Incredibles
    2. Toy Story 2
    3. Wall-E
    4. Finding Nemo
    5. Toy Story 3
    6. Up
    7. Ratatouille
    8. Brave
    9. Monsters, Inc.
    10. Toy Story
    11. A Bug’s Life
    12. Cars
    13. Cars 2

    1-5 are my top tier, and pretty much interchangeable. If I were to rank them again next week, they might be in a slightly different order, but those same 5 would be there. Same for 6-10.

    The weird thing about A Bug’s Life is that it is a perfectly serviceable movie that is still better than most anything to come out of Dreamworks (except Kung Fu Panda 1&2, which manage to climb up to the level of second tier Pixar, a feet some exec at Dreamworks is trying hard to prevent form ever happening again).

    My personal theory is that Cars 1&2 are tributes to Disney. Tributes in the old sense, that they are offerings of merchandise-driven film Product to a hungry PR machine, made in order to secure the creative freedom to make things like Wall-E and the Toy Story trilogy, which no American movie company would green light or distribute in a million years.

  92. I think A Bug’s Life should be above both Cars movies, but then, I’d rather pretend the whole Cars thing didn’t happen at all. Also, I’ve never really felt the love for Ratatouille; it definitely wasn’t better than Toy Story 3 or Finding Nemo.

  93. Wren:

    Planes, if I recall correctly, is direct to video and isn’t being branded as coming from Pixar (even if it takes place in the world of Cars).

  94. I propose a different list:

    Pixar Films that made me cry and tear up:
    Toy Story 2
    Toy Story 3
    Wall-E
    Up
    The Incredibles
    Finding Nemo
    Brave

    Pixar Films that didn’t make me cry:
    Cars
    Cars 2
    A Bug’s Life
    Toy Story
    Monsters, Inc.
    Ratatouille

    This list may make me a great big wussy. I don’t much care. Pixar movies are AFFECTING. They speak to me emotionally. I will admit that movies affect me more since both my parents have passed on and since I’ve become a father. But that’s WHY these movies are so affecting. When Pixar sells me on real, human drama that matters because you care about the characters….it’s GREAT FILM. The opening to UP is BRUTAL because you fall in love with the characters…their lives, their dreams and yes, their deaths.

    And Pixar rarely chooses the easy choice. One of my favorite moments in The Incredibles is after Mr. Incredible is freed by Elastigirl, who finds him being kissed by another woman. As they’re running to rescue their kids one of the best lines: “You’re keep trying to pick a fight, BUT I’M JUST HAPPY YOU’RE ALIVE.” Instead of the slapstick, a brilliant character moment that is also funny and rings true. Pixar is full of moments like that.

    That they make movies that truly are FAMILY movies…movies an entire family can enjoy (and not just tolerate or sit through) is part of the reason they have been so successful.

  95. I loved and rewatch regularly The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, UP! and Ratatouille. The first two because they never fail to make me laugh, and the second two because they never fail to make me cry. Wall-E and Finding Nemo were interesting and fun, respectively, and I might rewatch them at some point. I failed to connect with the Toy Story movies on almost every level and if I never have to watch another movie in that series again it’ll be too soon. The rest I’ve either not seen (Brave, Cars 2) or don’t remember (A Bug’s Life, Cars).

  96. I won’t do a list because I’m horrible at best-of lists but I will say that A Bug’s Life would be much higher on my non-existent best-of list! I love that movie! I used to watch it over and over with my daughter when she was younger and I never did get tired of it.

    “I am a beautiful butterfly!”

  97. Ah, fair. I didn’t do enough research, took it on the word of a friend that it was another Pixar film. Thanks for the nudge!

  98. @Pkirby: Tastes differ, but I’ve got to disagree with you on both the first Cars and Ratatouille.

    In the case of Ratatouille, they made a movie about a RAT WHO COOKS and people enjoyed it. That was actually credited for being more accurate in its representation of a restaurant kitchen than the film ‘No Reservations’ from the same year which was a film about a restaurant filmed in an actual restaurant kitchen.

  99. @WizarDru, I always argue that Pixar does story better than anyone else out there making films right now.

    Which is kind of why I understand the mixed reactions about Brave. It was marketed very oddly, and that caused some people to dismiss it, or go into it with odd assumptions. It’s not a princess movie, it’s a story about mothers and daughters. I’d say it’s arm-wrestling with The Incredibles for my absolute favorite Pixar movie.

  100. I’d love to see a best of list of Pixar’s short films–or alternately, I’d love it if Pixar would release their short film collection on one DVD. That would be awesome.

    (La Luna, before Brave: So good. So, so, so good.)

  101. Like Gilmoure, I put Brave at #1. I too, have a headstrong 11-year-old daughter. My 11-year daughter also happens to have long RED hair and BLUE eyes like Merida (And like Young Amelia Pond, but I digress…). She is very excited to be able to take archery in school next year. It isn’t offered until 7th grade here.

    When ranking, I asked myself, “Which would you rather watch right now? This? or This?” and that is how the list was made.

    So…here’s my list:

    1. Brave
    2. The Incredibles
    3. Monsters, Inc.
    4. Toy Story 3
    5. Up
    6. Finding Nemo
    7. Toy Story
    8. A Bug’s Life
    9. Wall-E
    10. Ratatouille
    11. Toy Story 2
    12. Cars 2
    I guess I am one of the few people who liked the 2nd one better. I just laughed more with the second one. I loved that it took place all over the world and we got to see many more different types of cars than in the first film, where all I could think about when I looked at the scenery was, “Oh gawd, Arizona…yuck Hot!” This may have something to do with having to go visit relatives in Arizona every summer.

  102. Hmm…

    1. The Incredibles (on my all-time favorite Top 10)
    2. Wall-E
    3. Toy Story 3 (cried for the last 45 minutes; rivals Iron Giant in this department)
    4. Up (position based on the strength of the opening; the main plot is further down)
    5. Toy Story 2 (I seem to like this one a bit less than everyone I know)
    6. Monsters, Inc.
    7. Toy Story
    8. A Bug’s Life
    9. Ratatouille
    10. Finding Nemo
    11. Cars

    Haven’t seen Brave, but I kind of want to. I won’t see Cars 2 except under protest.

    For me, the first three are pretty close, the next six tail off slowly, and the last two mark a path to a deep abyss indeed.

  103. Pixar movies I would watch if they were on TV right now:
    The Incredibles
    A Bug’s Life
    Wall-E
    Toy Story 3
    Up

    Eh:
    Everything else (I haven’t seen Cars 2 (no interest) or Brave (waiting for the DVD))

    /I’m a rare bird, in that I didn’t care much for Toy Story and Toy Story 2, but enjoyed Toy Story 3. Go figure.
    //Studio Ghibli > Pixar

  104. I don’t think I can rank, I can only group.

    Movies which I enjoyed as excellent movies
    Toy Story 2
    The Incredibles
    Wall-E
    Ratatouille
    Finding Nemo
    Toy Story 3

    Movies which I only enjoyed within the framework of kids movies/cartoons
    Toy Story
    Monsters, Inc.
    Up
    A Bug’s Life

    Movies which made me cry
    Toy Story 2
    Wall-E
    Ratatouille
    Toy Story 3
    Monsters, Inc.
    Up

    Not seen
    Cars, Cars2, Brave

    Up and Wall-E both started with such-perfect 10min shorts that it’s not fair to judge the rest of the film to that standard.

  105. Glad to see I’m not the ony guy who tears up with Pixar films, even just remembering certain scenes. That they’re able to get to my emotions while still being entertaining and fun and accessible to children is amazing. Hugo did that for me, and of course, live action films like Room With A View and Wrath of Khan. Will be so interesting to see what Pixar does in their next original film.

  106. In trying to gather my thoughts about these films, I’ve come to the conclusion that my inner child apparently died some while back. Poor li’l guy.

    I’ve not seen, and have no desire to see, half of these films. In fact, the only one I’ve been able to sit down and watch is The Incredibles. Aside from believing they could have done better than Craig T. Nelson, I loved it.

    The first two Toy Stories I’ve seen mostly by osmosis of the “the kids are watching it in the other room” variety. Can’t stand Tom Hanks in much of anything. Actively dislike Tim Allen in everything. Even if these were the finest cinema ever put to film, I’d hate them on that basis alone.

    Ratatouille I turned off somewhere in the middle due to boredom.

    All I’ve seen of A Bug’s Life is the gag reel. It’s been years ago, though. I remember thinking “oh, Dave Foley’s in it”, but not really caring to see the movie.

    No wonder I’m such a miserable bastard.

    (I do have an urge to see Brave, though.)

  107. I liked Brave a lot when I saw in the theaters. Being a parent of a daughter (and a son) helps, I suspect, because the family character dynamics are a lot of the heart of the movie. As a poster above noted, the character dynamics are a lot more like Miyazaki’s than that of the typical Disney film. None of the characters are all good or all bad; and the changes in various characters and situations over the course of the film are not without cost, even in the context of a “happy ending”.

    Lili Loufbourow has a great critical essay on how the movie quietly subverts a lot of the “princess” tropes (and speaks to political as well as personal issues) in ways that might not be obvious at first. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should be warned that spoilers abound; but it’s well worth reading after you’ve seen it, or beforehand if you don’t mind spoilers:

    http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/

    (I also found the artwork and animation breathtaking, and well worth seeing on a large screen.)

  108. I generally agree with the original list though I’d put the Toy Story entries in the same places but in 1, 3, 2 order. (Toy Story 1, to me, is the best of all Pixars, with Wall-E and Incredibles coming right after.) And I’d definitely move UP, up.

    For “sad”, though–UP has Toy Story 3 beat by a mile IMO.

  109. Scalzi – “I didn’t say Cars 2 was bad, although I don’t think it was particularly good — it was serviceable entertainment for small children. Every other Pixar film is significantly better, however. Also, it’s the first Pixar film where I really felt the reason it existed was to sell toys, rather than to exist for itself (Cars toys make a truckload of money — pun intended — for Disney).”

    Great summation of the issue with Cars 2. Pixar didn’t FAIL when it made Cars 2, it just chose to tailor the film to an audience which doesn’t include any of us. Pixar succeeded completely with Cars 2 – kids love it and the merchandise sales are filling their bank accounts.

  110. @BillK one of my favorite parts of Brave is the fact that Merida is spoiled and selfish. I am sick of the ideal princess / girl being selfless and perfect. I don’t know about your family, but every American little girl I know has a strong streak of entitlement. Merida makes mistakes and then has to face the tough consequences of her stupidity. Too me, that is a great role model. We all make mistakes, how many of us actually try to fix them. Plus, after that movie, my daughter and I had a long discussion about how we will choose our disagreements when she is a teenager.

    **I thought I was the only one who picked up on the Spenser Tracy/Katheryn Hepburn romance overtones in UP

    **Someone brought up the Iron Giant, which is not Pixar, but is one of the few animation stories that compare. This is the only cartoon that my husband cried at. He didn’t even tear up for Toy Story #3!!!!

  111. Apparently I’m the only one who thinks that Cars is the best! You see, I’m a huge, die-hard Route 66 fanatic. To me, the plot of Cars perfectly captured the lore and fun of Route 66, as well as the sadness of it’s fading away. I cry every time Sally explains the heyday, significance and effect of the interstate to Lightning McQueen. Every. Single. Time.

    The best road trip I ever took was with a then-boyfriend, following the remains of Route 66. “LOOK! I’m touching part of the original asphalt!” “Look! Look! It’s the Whale! We must go climb in it!” I geeked out for over a week. That trip was right before Cars came out, and the owner of the Rock Café—who was the inspiration for Sally—had all sorts of drawings that the Pixar animators had made for her during one of their research trips down Route 66. I cried when I read that the Café burned down a few years ago. I still remember sitting in the Café, eating fried pickles and drinking Dr. Pepper from a bottle, when my mom called to tell me something unimportant. I said something to the effect of “Mom. I’m on Route 66, at the Rock Café, and I’m eating fried pickles. The outside world does not exist.”

    Yes, Yes. Cars has become a cash cow of merchandising for the company, and kids love the flashy cars. But to me, I love—no, adore—the Route 66 in it.

    Moving on, I’ve never cared for Wall-E as much as I felt that I *should* like it. It has all sorts of wonderful aspects to it, but when I watch it…..Meh. While I loved the opening of Up, the rest of the movie bores me to tears. So, my favorites are:

    Cars
    First 20 minutes of Up
    (tied) Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Incredibles, Monsters Inc.
    (tied) Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Toy Store 1
    (tied) Rest of Up and Wall-E

    I haven’t seen Bug’s life, Cars2 or Brave yet.

  112. 40-year-old woman with no kids here, so I undoubtedly don’t have as many repeat viewings under my belt as those of you who’ve had appropriately-aged kids during the Pixar era. But I do like or love most of the Pixar films and have seen all except Cars 2 at least once. My ranking:

    1. Toy Story 2
    2. Up
    3. Ratatouille (foodie and serious cook here. Maybe that’s why I adored this one.)
    4. Toy Story 3
    5. The Incredibles
    6. Wall-E (agreed that the first half hour is extraordinary, but the rest of it left me kind of cold.)
    7. Brave (not sure about this one yet. But I don’t think it’s gotten enough credit for being a really wonderful and multi-layered mother-daughter story.)
    8. Finding Nemo
    9. Monsters, Inc.
    10. Toy Story
    11. A Bug’s Life
    12. Cars

    This is basically a scale from “enthusiastic love” to “like.” I’d gladly re-watch any of these any time with the possible exception of Cars. I didn’t hate Cars, I just found it pleasant but totally forgettable.

  113. I’d push Ratatouille up into the top tier — for me it jostles with Incredibles for #1, but I haven’t rewatched Up or Wall-E or Toy Story 3 recently, which might affect the rankings.

    Finding Nemo was gorgeous but didn’t do as much for me as some of the others.

    And Cars 2, down at the bottom of my list, wasn’t a very good Pixar movie but it was arguably a better James Bond movie than most of Roger Moore’s work. And I did laugh at the Tokyo bathroom.

  114. The Incredibles is way at the top of my list. It strikes me as a cross between Watchmen (superheroes are obliged to retire) and Harrison Bergeron (exceptional people are hobbled so as not to offend normal people), with a lot borrowed from the superhero genre broadly and an island lair out of James Bond.

  115. Ratatouille is number 1 for me, on account of its Frenchiness. I studied French in high school and then lived in France for two years (serving as an LDS missionary), and I fell in love with the country and culture. Ratatouille hit my sweet spot by both accurately portraying and humorously skewering everything French.

    Aside from that, I have a difficult time ranking favorites, though, like many others, I have little interest in seeing Cars 2

  116. Ok, here goes:
    1. Up
    2. Brave
    3. The Incredibles
    4. Ratatouille
    5. Toy Story 1
    6. Toy Story 3
    7. Finding Nemo
    8. Cars 1
    9. Toy Story 2
    10. Wall-E
    11. A Bug’s Life

    Except for Brave, we own DVDs for all of 1 through 5. If not for the opening sequence to Up, I might have ranked Brave at 1. My husband and I are Pagan, as well as members of the SCA, which certainly factored into our enjoyment of the film. I love Pixar’s attention to visual details,whether it’s the water in Ratatouille or the tapestries in Brave. (My only major quibble with Brave is that I wish they’d settle on which part of the Middle Ages the characters were in. Merida’s dresses are from at least two different eras. And nobody wore a corset under a Gothic fitted dress–but I digress.)

    The rest of the list ranks where it does because while I actually enjoyed watching those films at the time I saw them, I haven’t had any real desire to see them again.

  117. First thought, since I read the list bottom-up: There is no freaking way that Finding Nemo is only the 9th best Pixar movie, because Finding Nemo is awesome.

    Second thought, having reached the top: daaaaaaaamn, Pixar is outstanding, because I really can’t argue ranking it any higher than that.

    Not sure where Brave goes, but certainly somewhere in the Tier II set, so Nemo may well be bumped to 10.

    Do Studio Ghibli next. (Brave was outstanding, but if you’re looking for subversion of the Disney Princess tropes, Ghibli Princesses kick some serious ass.)

  118. Great List.

    In regards to “Cars 2″: I’m in complete agreement with you. Not a fan of Dreamworks animated films. Except for “How To Train Your Dragon” which I believe reaches a “Pixar Peak” for Dreamworks in the same way that “Cars 2″ reaches a “Dreamworks Trench” for Pixar.

  119. Rather than rank the movies, which was done quite plentifully above, I have chosen to rank my five favorite scenes from Pixar movies (Full Disclosure – I haven’t seen Cars 2 or Brave yet). Hopefully the scene titles I used make sense.

    1: Jessie’s Song from Toy Story 2 – If this scene doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you don’t have a soul. Look it up, it’s science.
    2: The Opening Love Story from Up – It has been said before, but bears repeating “Up tells a better love story in 8 minutes than Twilight does in 4 movies”
    3: The 100-Yard Dash from The Incredibles – One of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen in ANY film.
    4: Facing the Fire from Toy Story 3 – For the first time in a long LONG time, I had no idea how a scene was going to end.
    5: Remy Making Soup from Ratatouille – Always makes me want to go indulge my creative side in some way.

  120. I have a couple weird things in mine list.
    1. The Incredibles – Best. Superhero Movie. Ever.
    2. Toy Story 2
    3. Wall-E: the first half
    4. Toy Story
    5. Up: the Intro
    6. Finding Nemo
    7. Toy Story 3
    8. Ratatouille
    9. Brave
    10. A Bug’s Life
    11. Up: everything else
    12. Monsters, Inc.
    13. Wall-E: the second half
    14. Cars
    15. Cars 2

    I know I’m cheating, but…

    in Wall-E, everything that happens on the Axion feels like it’s from an inferior sequel to everything that happened on Earth.

    in Up, that intro was just head-and-shoulders better than the rest of the film, which was charming but kind of scattered.

  121. I seem to have a little bit different system, but at the moment:

    Films I’d watch again, going out of my way to see them:
    Wall-E
    Up
    The Incredibles
    Ratatouille

    Films I enjoyed and stick with if I run into them
    Finding Nemo

    Films I enjoyed
    Monsters Inc

    Films that were fine
    Cars
    Toy story 1
    Toy story 2

    Films I haven’t seen yet (or cannot remember seeing)
    Toy story 3
    A bug’s life
    Brave
    Cars 2

  122. I’ve realized that I haven’t seen most of these more than once, so I can’t really rank them. That said, I love how they touch other parts of my life.
    * Up. My husband and I sobbed a the opening, and everyone I meet totally gets “Squirrel!”
    *Toy Story 3 (on second viewing on a plane) really helped me get through giving my dollhouse to my cousin. (Out of the attic, share it with another kid!)
    *Ratatouille Rats in the commercial dishwasher!
    * Finding Nemo. The counsulting biologist on this gave a fantastic talk at my college. (They were originally going to put kelp everywhere until he explained that there isn’t any kelp on the Great Barrier Reef.) And I totally cried, though I don’t remember why anymore.
    * Wall-e was just so sweet.
    I really liked Brave, but I was pre-disposed to like it, so I’ll see how it settles out.

    Frankly, they’re all awesome, and so much better than 90% of what else it out there.

  123. In light of all the talk surrounding “Toy Story 3″ during awards season, I find it interesting it’s as far down Mr. Scalzi’s list as it is. When some were calling it the best film of the year, I had yet to see it. After seeing it, I definitely thought such statements said more about the year in film than about the third installment’s proper place of regard.

    Which, of course, returns to light the idea that it’s all relative and that, relatively speaking, a film ranking in the third quarter of this list would still rank in the top 25% of a lot of film lists you could make.

    For me, “Wall-E” was the only one I watched with wonder and amazement beyond being simply (and completely) entertained. I don’t think it would rank as my favorite, necessarily, but it moved me more than any of the others.

  124. Side note: I see a couple of people have mentioned Miyazaki. If you are a fan of Pixar films and haven’t seen any of Hayao Miyazaki’s works, I suggest you go thou and do so. His films are always fun and often breathtaking. “Spirited Away” is my favorite, but really, start anywhere.

    (I prefer them in Japanese with English subtitles, but that just follows my personal foreign movie default preference.)

  125. I’d argue that “A Bug’s Life” is the best of all of them. I say this because I happened to be fortunate enough to see a very early preview of that film. The dialog had been recorded and edited together with some temp music taken from other movies. The visuals, however, were just sketches, a few of which were crudely animated, and couple of crude animatics, consisting of simple geometric shapes in solid colors, illustrating more complicated action sequences. I walked out of the theater thinking it was the best movie I had seen in ages, and I still remember the movie that way, despite having seen the finished product several times.

  126. But Scalzi, you have a daughter just the age to take to Brave. Go with the family before it leaves the theatres. I saw it in 3-D with the new ‘Atmo’ (I think it’s called) sound system. It’s great. I can’t think of many fairytales with an intact family — classically, either the mom or dad are missing.

    And I’d like to say, as a newish commenter here, if this is a slow month, I have to forget right now about ever being able to keep up. No can do. Yikes.

  127. I liked Brave but don’t feel ready to rate it.

    I have to put The Incredibles first for a few reasons – better female roles (more screen time especially), a few awesome subtle “real world” elements which I thought were great (the scene where they are bickering as they run down the hall to try to save their kids absolutely kills me), and Edna.

    The Toy Story trilogy, Wall-E, Up, and Finding Nemo all cluster together after that (I don’t know yet whether Brave will end up here or share top billing with The Incredibles – I have to see it again).

    Any of the above I would rewatch in a heartbeat.

    Monsters, Inc goes below them – I loved it the first time I saw it but the last time I rewatched it I found parts of it very annoying.

    Ratatouille, Cars, and A Bugs Life at the bottom in no particular order. Ratatouille didn’t do much for me (I’m not a foodie which may be part of the reason why), Cars was cute but that’s it, and I don’t even remember much of A Bugs Life (and I get it mixed up with Ants). I never saw Cars 2 so can’t say anything about it.

  128. I’ve got to go with “The Incredibles” at #1, and then a tie for #2 with the opening of “Up” and the first reel or two of “WALL-E”.

    Creatively (not merchandise-wise), I’d bet Pixar would rather have made “How To Train Your Dragon” than “Cars 2″.

  129. Okay, I’ll join in. This is totally subjective…

    — Top tier —

    1. Wall-E. The opening is probably the most audacious I’ve seen in a film “suitable for all audiences” in the last decade. Plus it shut both my kids up for its entire length. The rest is a very competent piece of populist SF.

    2. The Incredibles. Until “Avengers Assemble” [1], the bestest superhero filum EVAH! Plus, Edna Mode.

    3. Toy Story 2. Reflections on loss, and change, and how it’s not always a bad thing even though it’s sometimes sad and/or scary. Plus, Jessie.

    4. Up. A tryptich on ageing. In between, whimsy, Grand Adventure, and Mild Peril. On one side, a gentle coda; on the other, a heart-rending tale of two lives in ten minutes. Plus, SQUIRREL!

    5. Toy Story. The best buddy movie of the 90s, with a great supporting cast. Plus, the Exorcist gag shut both my kids up. For all of five minutes. Normally they give simultaneous, different, and horribly distracting commentaries throughout. [2]

    — Middle tier —

    6. Ratatouille. A love story about food and Paris. The clunky villanous plot is more than offset by Collete, who is awesome, and who must be listened to in the French dub.

    7. Cars. Speaking as a Brit, I got this, and after a couple of viewings came to appreciate this hymn to Americana. Perhaps the lack of love for this is in part because it’s so familiar to Americans?

    8. Toy Story 3. The angst of Toy Story 2 cranked up to eleven, it’s all a little too predicatable in places. It is, however, redeemed by a Totoro.

    — Lower tier —

    9. A Bug’s Life. Sorry, but if I want to watch the Seven Samurai, I’ll watch the Seven Samurai.

    10. Monsters Inc. My tolerance for Billy Crystal is low, to the point that I tend to fast-forward past him. (This is not a failing of this film; I do the same in “The Princess Bride, however inconcievable that may seem to you).

    11. Finding Nemo. While I can remember most, if not all, that happened in the film, I have no great urge to watch it again.

    — Not watched —

    Cars 2, Brave

    [1] So-named in the UK because the last film named “The Avengers” left a collective psychic scar on the general populace that has yet to heal.

    [2] Only at home and not in the cinema. Dire Threats of dragging them out and home were made once only, and have not needed repeating.

  130. I was going to say that the Up opening sequence had tears streaming down my face and I would bump it up for that alone… but I see that argument was already made within the first 5 comments.

  131. MNMom: The Iron Giant was directed by Brad Bird, who also made The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

    Steve: Actually, while The Incredibles revolves around a perfect portrait of a suburban dad’s midlife crisis, I think my favorite scene is Helen, Violet and Dash coming to rescue Bob from Syndrome’s island, and the main reason is that Holly Hunter and the animators for Helen knock it out of the park so completely.

    There’s this moment in which she’s just told the kids that people are going to try to kill them and they should use their powers to defend themselves. Violet complains that she told them not to use their powers, and Helen seems to be barely holding herself together for a beat before she shouts “I KNOW WHAT I SAID!” Anyone who’s a parent or might be a parent just gets socked in the gut.

  132. About lack of love for Finding Nemo, I think it and Monsters, Inc. both are disadvantaged just by being relatively early, so they’ve faded a bit in memory (Toy Story 3 has reminded us of the first two). Finding Nemo is going to get a 3D re-release very soon, and Monsters Inc. will get a prequel next year, so that’s probably going to change.

    Finding Nemo was actually one of the most popular Pixar movies ever; its box-office gross is second only to Toy Story 3.

  133. Ratatouille is one of the best movies ever made about cooking, right up there with Tampopo, Eat Drink Man Woman, Like Water for Chocolate and Babette’s Feast. And Peter O’Toole was as good as he was in Lawrence of Arabia.

  134. The first 5 are all top tier.

    1) Ratatouille: For me, as a creative person, Remy’s journey speaks to me in a way few other movies do. Few things make me happier than replaying the last 5 minutes of that movie. Movies need to earn their happy endings, and this one did.

    2) Toy Story 3: One of a very few movies to get me to choke up. Twice.

    3) (Tie) UP and WALL-E. Impossible to choose between. Both climaxes make me cry. Both on subjects that just shouldn’t work.

    4) The Incredibles.

    SECOND TIER (still very, very good)
    5) Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2: The sheer storytelling/screenwriting genius involved in Nemo’s escape places it a cut above the rest.

    6) Brave

    7) Toy Story

    8) A Bug’s Life

    THIRD TIER
    9) Cars. Yeah. Not so good.

    Haven’t seen: Monsters, Inc or Cars 2.

  135. While I enthusiastically second all recommendations of Miyazaki, note that _Grave of the Fireflies_ is a straightforward historical story of children not quite surviving in a firebombed city in WWII. It was made by Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s studio, and some places will file it with his movies, and the cover imagery looks right, but it’s really, really grim.

    Beautiful, and one of Roger Ebert’s Great Movies, but grim.

  136. @John Mark Ockerbloom at 3:02. Thank you for linking to that article about Brave. It was quite interesting. It clarified why I walked out of the theater with a wrinkled forehead — I’d been expecting since the first scene that it would go all Snow White and Rose Red or Beauty & the Beast on us, and then it _didn’t_. So I ended up with the same effect as when I’ve read the book the movie’s based on and only see what’s different, as opposed to what’s good. I’ll need to give Brave another shot when I’m on an airplane sometime.

  137. Mostly I agree with these rankings. My only major differences: 1) WALL-E at #1, and 2) Finding Nemo in the top 5. I might also move Pete Docter’s films up a notch apiece.

    I suspect the untimely death of Joe Ranft is a major factor (if not the dominant one) in Pixar’s recent troubles. Ranft was deeply involved in the development of Cars, and the sudden loss of his input almost certainly hurt that film creatively (it was the only Pixar feature between Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3 that neither won the animated feature Oscar nor was nominated for a screenplay Oscar).

    However, his absence as a story doctor on other peoples’ features may be an even greater loss to Pixar. Is it possible that Ranft’s creative interference would have kept such films as Ratatouille, Cars 2 and Brave enough on track that their original directors could have seen them through to the end instead of being replaced in midstream? Or taken the promising film Newt in a different direction, such that it couldn’t be mistaken for Rio (the release of that film may have induced Pixar to kill Newt, which contained similar plot elements)?

    Anyway, I haven’t seen Brave yet either, but I’m still hoping for the best from it even though people seem less excited about it than most other Pixar features. I also hope that they start seriously trusting new talent with their original features, especially since some of their old hands are preoccupied elsewhere (Brad Bird shows no signs of coming back to animation any time soon, and Andrew Stanton is expected to follow the live-action bomb John Carter with a Finding Nemo sequel, and best of luck to him).

  138. Cars 2 is the only Pixar movie that made me mad. Not just for the obvious toy grab, but more, the torture, character death, and other, grown-up kinda worries that the target market should not have had to face. It has some pieces of Pixar brilliance, but sooooo many stupid parts, easy dumb jokes, etc. Brave was great – not deep, but fun. Far above Cars 2. And while I still think Wall-E should rank # 1, the rest of the list is pretty fair.

  139. I’m afraid I can’t separate out the Toy Story films since I wouldn’t ever sit down and watch 2 or 3 without watching the preceeding film(s) beforehand, but I freely admit to having some strong OCD tendancies.

    1) WALL.E
    2) Brave
    3) Finding Nemo
    4) The Incredibles
    5) Toy Story Trilogy
    6) Up
    7) Monsters Inc.
    8) Cars
    9) A Bug’s Life (To be fair, i haven’t seen it in a very, very long time.)
    10) Ratatouille
    11) Cars 2 (Purely because I haven’t seen it.)

    I must admit to being surprised by the love Ratatouille is getting and the lack of love for Finding Nemo. Ratatouille bored me to tears, which was pretty upsetting since I kept rats at the time and so I was *really* looking forward to it. On the other hand, fish are incredibly boring so making an interesting film about them must have been really hard. I love the story and the characters, and visually it looks just incredible – but I will always feel like Crush should have been voiced by Keanu Reeves!

    Brave is absolutely fantastic, though I should make a disclosure here – like Merida, I am a wilful, red-haired, Scottish feminist with mother-issues, so I found it very easy to identify with her. And I’m pretty sure seeing the film with a Scottish audience just made it all the better, because Medieval issues aside, Pixar did a great job with Scottish language and culture. They poked a wee bit of fun at us, but still kept it affectionate without making us feel like they were takin’ the pish, as we say round these parts. I expect it helped that the main cast are all Scots, with the exception of Emma Thomson, who is an honorary Scot as her mother is the wonderful Scottish actress Phyllida Law, and Julie Walters, who gets a pass by dint of being a National Treasure. (America only gets Craig Ferguson on paper – we NEVER let anyone go, no matter what their passports say!) The soundtrack is also fantastic. Mind you, I’m pretty sure all Pixar soundtracks are.

    And WALL.E – what is there to say? They made us fall in love with a silent robot whose best friend is a cockroach – that is nothing short of a work of genius. Plus I love the digs at our greedy throwaway, consumer society and the damage we’re causing to the environment, heavy handed though they may have been.

    Scalzi really knows how to ask the hard questions – I spent less time than this on some university essays!!! Next up should definitely be the Pixar shorts. In fact, I think I’ll just go and get a head start on my research for that…

  140. I doubt many of us went back to watch these films again to rank them properly in our current frame of reference. And memory is such a trickster — what worked for me 20 years ago might not work for me now (and vice versa). Anyway…

    1. The Incredibles – Captures super-hero, secret agent and family drama genres (possibly a few others too) in a coherent comedy. Probably the best world-building Pixar has ever done.
    2. Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc – close behind The Incredibles, but not quite as fulfilling. Monsters, Inc. was the one movie I would always watch with my daughter when she felt the urge to watch it.
    4. Toy Story – The top 4 are the only ones I’ve watched more than once. Toy Story was a masterpiece of its age, but it’s starting to wear around the edges due to new animation tech. The story doesn’t have quite as much meat for adults as the top 3.
    5. Finding Nemo – Worked for me on most levels, but a bit disjointed.
    6. WALL-E – Last part of the movie kills it for me. SHould have been two seprate movies or else drastically change the balance between the human and robot story lines so they don’t collide so annoyingly.
    7. Cars – Cars was the beginning of the end of my fanboy period for Pixar films. A nice movie, but nothing really exceptional once you get past the world building. And the world building has its flaws.
    7. A Bug’s Life
    9. Ratatouille – never finished. The story didn’t hold me.

    I have not seen Up, Cars 2, Brave, Toy Story 3. I suspect Brave and TS3 would go above Finding Nemo. Up, I don’t have a good feel for. It could crack the top 4 or it could be below WALL-E. Time to rent the video..

  141. Very late to the game, but why all the hate/disinterest for Bugs life. Great voice cast,jokes,images,story….mime beetle!. Must have been too long ago to be fresh in the mind

  142. @Annie- I have good news for you:

    @Bearpaw- I also love the Miyazaki films (Totoro!) but have to disagree with you on the subtitles. While I normally prefer to watch a foreign film in it’s original language, with Miyazaki films specifically I’ve discovered that reading subtitles really takes away from my ability to see all the beautiful detail in the animation and background artwork. Try one and see if I’m lying- the recent Disney re-dubs are all pretty good.

  143. Agree with Kevin ^^^, I’d put Bugs Life up above Nemo, Incredibles etc.

    Best Pixar bit for me is the first twenty five mins of Wall-E, after that it rapidly slides down the chart.

    Best overall for me would be TS2, perfect balance of the fun of the first film with and the serious bits us adults love (jessies backstory ) I think they went way overboard in TS3 with the sentimental stuff, stretch a rubber band too far and it snaps etc etc.

    Though it had a cameo by Totoro so not all bad. :)

  144. I tend to agree with this list for the most part though I would have put WALL-E #1 even though Toy Story series is probably fair to put up there as well. Also agree Cars 1 & 2 should be at the bottom. The only real disagreements I was the low placement for Finding Nemo (which I think it should be around 5 to 7 – really serene and fun story I think) and oddly enough, A Bugs Life. It was the first PIXAR film I saw and I have a soft spot for it.

  145. Clew, my mother recently rented Grave of the Fireflies from the library thinking it would be a cute Japanese cartoon. I had to warn her. That movie goes on my pile of “excellent but extremely difficult to watch a second time.”

    And I’ve been pleasantly pleased with the huge improvement in Dreamworks movies in the past few years. Kung Fu Panda was a lot of fun, as was How to Train your Dragon. Even Megamind had some nice hero trope subversions and twists. Anything that brings in higher quality CGI and animated family movies is good in my book!

  146. Great thread – the variety of opinion is amazing! Quite an eye-opener to see how much our tastes can vary.

  147. “I doubt many of us went back to watch these films again to rank them properly in our current frame of reference. ”

    I’m guessing you don’t have kids? :) Because trust me, I’ve seen most of the Pixar movies many, many times.

    As for the folks discussing Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli, a few thoughts. In 1986, Miyazakis ‘Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind’ was horribly mangled when it was brought to the US by video. It’s dubbing was not horrible, but more than a half-hour was excised and rewritten with some terrible dialogue. The experience embittered Miyazaki such that no releases came for a long time: when Pixar head John Lasseter championed his work and got quality treatments done by Disney (who had tried before but been turned down, due to Miyakazi’s legitimiate fears). The dubs are, in fact, of very high quality. To the extent I watch them over the subtitled versions, something I otherwise don’t do.

    Grave of the Fireflies is an adaption of a famous book, and a powerful watch. Believe it or not, it was bundled with Totoro in the theaters…because Totoro was not considered a film that would be very popular by distributors. We see how THAT turned out. Also, I highly recommend most of Ghibli’s films, not just Miyazaki’s. “The Cat Returns” is a family favorite around here, with Anne Hathaway, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle and Elliot Gould.

  148. I doubt many of us went back to watch these films again to rank them properly in our current frame of reference.

    I’ve seen Monsters, Inc. and the Toy Story trilogy enough times to have lost count in the recent past, thanks to my daughter’s video-watching tendencies. Saw The Incredibles again pretty recently (after Megamind and Despicable Me, two movies that obviously owe a lot to it), and it holds up, not just as a parody but as a straight superhero story. I admit it’s been a while since I saw Finding Nemo or A Bug’s Life, which may have affected their rankings.

  149. John Mark Ockerbloom: thanks for sharing that link about the critique of Brave. What an excellent read. It really is a great analysis of how Brave deconstructs the ‘princess’ genre so effectively, right down to discussing how it plays with your expectations. I remember very specifically thinking the same thing she initially did, assuming I knew some plot elements that never occurred. A great read.

  150. I get to watch these frequently because of my kids. I rank them in how I think the movie is overall, though some like the intro to Up and the first 1/2 hour of Wall-E are beyond spectacular.

    #1 Incredibles
    #2 Toy Story 2
    #3 Wall-E
    #4 Toy Story
    #5 Toy Story 3
    #6 Up
    #7 Ratatouille
    #8 Monsters Inc.
    # 9 Finding Nemo
    # 10 Cars
    #11 A Bug’s Life
    #12 Cars 2

    Cars 2 was very disappointing, that movie exists to sell toys. I have yet to see Brave but like many others I believe it will rank over Cars 2. As others have already mentioned take the time and see anything by Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki,, they have created some of the masterpieces of animation.

  151. And the ice age movies are not in the list ? I thought they were hilarious (at least the first two that I’ve seen.)

  152. The Ice Age films are neither Pixar nor Dreamworks. While there would be nothing wrong with a list of computer-animated films by any studio, that seems like a bigger and different undertaking…

  153. Toy Story 2 and 3 should be switched. And I love “A Bug’s Life”, if only because it’s a remake of The Seven Samurai.

  154. “Up” just blows me away. I can’t get through the opening sequence without tears, even after having seen it several times. It’s not only my favorite Pixar movie, it’s my favorite movie, full stop.

  155. Toy Story 2
    The Incredibles
    Wall-E
    Toy Story
    Finding Nemo
    Up
    Monsters, Inc.
    Ratatouille
    Cars
    Toy Story 3
    Cars 2
    A Bug’s Life

    A Bugs Life is the only one I cannot sit through. I think it’s terrible. The rest are pretty epic. I’d say the first six on my list as basically a tie for 1st, though I’d concede the supremacy of Toy Story 2. Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo… Man, Pixar knows how to rock a computer animated movie. and I have a special loathing for CGI ever since it first started making an appearance in live action movies.

  156. John Mark Ockerbloom, I also thank you for linking to the article on Brave. Excellent.

    Brave was the inspiration for one of my favorite tweets ever, by @kierstenwhite: “‘The males in Brave were all plot devices!’ GEE. THAT MUST REALLY SUCK TO HAVE YOUR GENDER MARGINALIZED IN A MOVIE. CAN’T IMAGINE.” I mean, I would disagree that they’re all plot devices, but… heh heh heh. No, her answer was better.

  157. Everyone loves Toy Story 2, but I’m just not all that wild about it. It’s still a great movie, like everything Pixar has done sans the Cars and Bug’s Life, but IMO it’s nowhere close to their best.

    On the other hand, Up, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles are among the best animated films ever made. They’d all probably make my top 20. WALL-E was pretty good, but a little too, I dunno, deliberate. Calculated, kind of cloying. The fundamental key to Pixar’s best is that everything feels so effortlessly organic. Every laugh, twist, touching moment is earned. I didn’t get that sense with WALL-E… or Brave, come to think of it, which was also one of Pixar’s weaker efforts.

    1. Ratatouille
    2. The Incredibles
    3. Up
    4. Finding Nemo
    5. Monsters Inc.
    6. Toy Story 2
    7. Toy Story
    8. Toy Story 3
    9. WALL-E
    10. Brave
    11. Cars
    12. A Bug’s Life
    13. Cars 2

  158. Dreamworks has made a few other movies that manage to rise to the level of second-tier Pixar; I’d put “How To Train Your Dragon” in that category (directed by Chris Sanders, who previously made Disney’s underrated “Lilo and Stitch”), and, while few people seem to agree with me, also “Megamind”. They’re certainly not up to Pixar-operating-on-all-cylinders.

  159. Was going to build a bathyscaphe to explore the Dreamworks Trench, but Don Walsh told me I was “mad” and that “certain doom” awaited me. Bob Ballard simply said “LOL. Newb” before hanging up on me.

  160. My ranking would be


    1. The Incredibles
    2. Toy Story 3
    3. Finding Nemo
    4. WALL-E
    5. Toy Story 2
    6. Ratatouille
    7. Toy Story
    8. Monsters, Inc.
    9. Up
    10. A Bug’s Life

    Cars and Cars 2 do not even deserve to be ranked, in my opinion. Really 1-5 are basically splitting hairs; they are all sublime entertainments for any age. 6-9 are merely excellent films which are emotionally moving and entertaining. A Bugs Life is still significantly better than *shudder* either of the Cars films. I haven’t seen Brave.

    Of course The Iron Giant (by the director of The Incredibles, Brad Bird) would probably outrank every film on the list, or at least find itself somewhere on the 1-5 list.

  161. Disclaimer: I’m not hating on Pixar films at all; I grew up on them and love them dearly.

    IMO, Pixar films are as great as they are because Ghibli films set the standard for exquisite storytelling, art direction, score, originality, and so on in animated films. And of course, we all know the relationship between Pixar and Studio Ghibli so of course, the influence started there

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