Top 10 Pixar Films
Top 10 Pixar Films
Pixar is perhaps one of the most recognisable animation studios in the world and certainly one of the most celebrated critically. The studio has accumulated to date 15 Academy Awards, 7 Golden Globes and 11 Grammy Awards amongst other acknowledgements. However, back in 1979 the studio was simply called the Graphics Group and was a small team part of the computer division of Lucasfilm. The studio formally became Pixar in 1986 and came into its own with funding from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Since then, Pixar has seen a meteoric rise in popularity eventually resulting in its purchase by Disney at a valuation of $7.4 billion in 2006. To date, Pixar has released 15 feature films and with Inside Out now released in most territories and receiving widespread critical acclaim, the time is right to assess which of Pixar’s works are the greatest.
Please note, this is just a personal list – feel free to leave your favourites in the comments.
Released in 2012, Brave is the story of princess Merida who lives in the Scottish Highlands and who, after consulting with a witch, accidentally transforms her mother into a bear and is forced to try to undo the spell. Featuring the voices of Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly and Robbie Coltrane, Brave is a different spin on the traditional Disney princess tale and sets itself apart from other Pixar films with its unique environment and spectacular setting. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Chapman became the first female director of a feature film for Pixar and drew inspiration from her relationship with her own daughter. Brave earns a place on this list because it was a film that notably went a different route to the more traditional fairy tale. Its total worldwide grossing is $538 million.
WALL-E was Pixar’s first foray into science fiction and space and told the story of a small garbage-disposal robot who is left behind on Earth after all the humans have long since left the planet. After encountering another robot named EVE, WALL-E is led on a journey into space that changes the course of human history. WALL-E was somewhat of a gamble in terms of storytelling, with the two main characters unable to speak (much of the beginning of the film contains no dialogue) and only able to communicate through body movements and robotic beeps. The 2008 film is highly entertaining and has a message about environmentalism but is more of a love story between WALL-E and EVE. WALL-E grossed a total of $521 million worldwide and stands out because of its sci-fi influences but especially the small, yellow robot who turned out to be an endearing character to watch.
8: A Bug’s Life
Only Pixar’s second feature film, A Bug’s Life was released in 1998 and was directed by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. The plot follows Flik, an ant who wants to save his colony from malicious grasshoppers and who enlists the help of bug circus performers to aid his troubled home. A Bug’s Life remains an enjoyable adventure to watch and creates an imaginative world around the more mundane topic of ants. The film features the voices of Richard Kind, Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley and Denis Leary. Wonderfully animated and imagined, A Bug’s Life was received positively by critics and audiences alike and was a film I watched countless times as a child. The film made over $300 million worldwide, a significant amount in 1998.
Up is a deeply moving tale directed by Pete Docter about an elderly man who together with a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell, sets off to South America to fulfill a promise to his late wife in a unique manner: by tying thousands of balloons to his house. Although the plot of the film once it reaches South America isn’t my favourite, there is no denying Up is Pixar provoking an emotional response from its audience to great effect, particularly the film’s opening montage which is heartbreaking. Beautifully scored by composer Michael Giacchino, the 2009 film managed to accumulate over $700 million worldwide and remains one of the most emotional films Pixar has ever made.
6: Monsters Inc.
Much like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. took a childhood fantasy, this time the monsters in your closet, and ran with it. Creating a universe in which some monsters go to work to scare young children, which provides their world with energy, was an interesting concept and was well received by critics in 2001. The voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal really help bring Sulley and Mike to life, with their chemistry and friendship evident on-screen. There was plenty of humour in the film from the colourful and differing personalities of each monster to the adorable childishness of ‘Boo’, a young girl who finds her way into the monster world much to the fear and worry of Mike, Sulley and the rest of the monster population who ironically fear humans. The film grossed over $500 million worldwide and was followed up by a prequel – Monsters University – in 2013, which unfortunately failed to quite capture the charm of the first film.
5: Toy Story 3
The culmination of a trilogy 15 years in the making, Toy Story 3 was a fitting conclusion to the story of Woody, Buzz and friends. A story about change, acceptance and growing up, Toy Story 3 really tugged at the heartstrings of its audience, many of whom had grown up watching these films. The plot follows Woody and the gang of toys as they try to find a new home while their owner Andy prepares to leave for college. Featuring a star-studded cast including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg and Timothy Dalton, Toy Story 3 was a resounding success and grossed over $1 billion worldwide and at the time of its release became the highest grossing animated film and the fifth-highest grossing film of all time. Despite such a well received conclusion, the story of Woody, Buzz and friends is set to continue in 2017 with Toy Story 4 marking a new chapter for the toys come to life, who are just as popular now as they’ve ever been.
4: Finding Nemo
Released in 2003, Finding Nemo follows Marlin the clownfish and another fish named Dory as they search for Marlin’s son Nemo, encountering sharks, jellyfish, turtles and a dentist along the way. The film is about Marlin allowing himself to let Nemo make his own choices and look after himself and is another example of Pixar appealing to adults and parents as much as children. The film earned $936 million worldwide and a sequel, Finding Dory, is set for release in June 2016. The film represented a unique challenge as nearly all the film is set underwater, but Pixar managed to create a beautiful representation of the ocean and all its species in animated form. Dory was a breakout character that audiences loved so its no wonder she’s being put into the limelight for the film’s sequel.
3: Inside Out
Inside Out is about the emotions inside our head and follows a young girl named Riley, and the characters inside her head which control how she behaves and interacts. These emotions include – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. The film is a wonderfully imaginative representation of the mind and emotion and is ultimately another heartwarming tale that goes down as one of Pixar’s very best, featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Lewis Black. For more of my thoughts on Inside Out, check out my review. The film has been received excellently by critics and to date has earned over $600 million worldwide.
2: The Incredibles
Pixar’s take on superheroes debuted in 2004 and followed a whole family of superheroes who, like others of their kind had been forced to retire and take on civilian identities. The Incredibles is a fantastic story of family, superpowers plus action-packed fights and is very entertaining to watch. The film features a talented voice cast including Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter and Samuel L. Jackson as the wise cracking Frozone. Grossing over $600 million worldwide, the film won two Academy Awards. Directed by Pixar’s first outside director, Brad Bird, the film was inspired by 1960’s comic books and spy films, emphasised with a great score by Michael Giacchino. With superhero films more popular than ever currently, it will be interesting to see what Brad Bird does with the sequel which is in the works.
1: Toy Story 2
Released in 1999 and directed by John Lasseter, Toy Story 2 is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the Toy Story franchise. After Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector it is up to Buzz and friends to rescue him but Woody is tempted by the prospect of immortality via preservation in a museum. Introducing new characters such as Jesse and Bullseye, Toy Story 2 grossed over $400 million at the box office and is one example of a sequel that improves upon the original. Having watched this film countless times when I was younger, it remains to this day my favourite Pixar creation.
Those are my Top 10 Pixar Films. What are yours? Let me know by commenting below.