There’s no denying it: Pixar is animation gold when it comes to heartwarming stories that pull at your heart strings with clever writing and memorable characters that stay with audiences long after the credits roll. Our fearless leader, Josiah, ask our resident Disney geek, Amanda, to rank all of the Pixar films from 1995 to today. Trust us when we say this was filled with tough choices.Toy Story
The first Pixar film is considered by some to still be the best. The story tells the tale of the secret life of toys when the child who owns them is not around. It focuses on the tense relationship between Woody–an old fashioned cowboy doll–and Buzz Lightyear–a space ranger action figure–and their battle to win the affections of Andy. But as the story plays out, their relationship evolves from rivals to friends as they have to find a way back to Andy before he moves to a new house.
Amanda’s Rank: 5
A Bug’s Life
One of the lesser known Pixar films, A Bug’s Life tells the story of Flik, a misfit ant, that gets his colony into a bit of trouble with a greedy gang of grasshoppers. He’s sent out on a mission to find “tough bugs” that will help his colony finally stand up to the grasshoppers. But when the “tough bugs” he finds turn out to be circus bugs, it becomes a race against the clock, a battle of wits, and a heartwarming tale showing that even the smallest ant can stand up for what he believes in, even if it’s against all the odds.
Amanda’s Rank: 6
Toy Story 2
In the sequel to Toy Story, Woody is stolen by a greedy toy collector, prompting his new best friend, Buzz, to set out on a mission with Slinky Dog, Mr. Potato Head, and Hamm to rescue Woody and bring him home before Andy gets back from summer camp. But Woody learns that he was once the star of Woody’s Roundup, along with Jessie, Bullseye, and the old Prospector. Lured in by the promise of immortality at a museum, it takes a lot to convince Woody and Jessie to return to Andy’s room.
Amanda’s Rank: 13
Welcome to the world of Monstropolis, home of all the monsters that live in your closet and under your bed. The story focuses on Monsters, Inc.’s #1 scarer, James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, and his partner and best friend, Mike Wazowski. The employees of Monsters, Inc. generate the city’s power by scaring children but, ironically, they are also afraid that the children are toxic to them. So when a little girl dubbed “Boo” sneaks into Monstropolis, Mike and Sulley have to find a way to get her back to her bedroom before it’s too late.
Amanda’s Rank: 9
If you think your parents hover, you need to meet Marlin, a clownfish living in the Great Barrier Reef, and his slightly helicopter-ish relationship with his son, Nemo. After his wife, Pearl, and all of their babies are killed by a barracuda, he becomes overly protective of his one son, Nemo. But at his first day at school, Nemo is kidnapped (fishnapped?) and Marlin must set aside his fears and leave the reef in order to save Nemo. Along the way, he meets Dory, a forgetful regal blue tang, and, together, they journey all the way to P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, and bring Nemo home.
Amanda’s Rank: 10
If you’ve ever doubted that super heroes walk among us, let The Incredibles prove you wrong. The film tells the story of the Parr family, a family made up of Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, and their children all forced to live private lives, hiding their super powers after years of saving the world. Bored of the mundane life as Mr. Parr, Mr. Incredible secretly sneaks off to try to save the world… only to drag his entire family into a battle with Syndrome, a former fanboy turned super villain who tries to wipe out all superheroes with his killer robot.
Amanda’s Rank: 8
In a world filled with anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles, Cars tells the story of Lightning McQueen, a young rookie race car and his mission to win the Piston Cup Championship. Eager to practice, he pushes his big rig, Mack, to drive through the night which causes Mack to drift off to sleep and throw McQueen out of the trailer and onto the road. Lost, McQueen speeds down the highway and arrives at the rundown ghost town of Radiator Springs but not before destroying their main road. He is forced to fix the road while also try to get back to the race in time.
Amanda’s Rank: 17
If anyone has ever told you that you can’t be what you dream of being, then tell them the story of Remy, a rat who dreams of becoming a chef. Set in the culinary capital of the world–Paris–Ratatouille is the story of Remy, a rat who has a taste for fine food, not garbage like the rest of his family. He ends up befriending Linguini, a restaurant’s garbage boy, and uses him to begin cooking for one of the finest restaurants in Paris, living his dream of becoming a first class chef.
Amanda’s Rank: 16
Despite the fact that there is absolutely no dialogue in the first 30 minutes, this film manages to be one of the most heart warming Pixar films on the list. It tells the story of Wall-E, a trash compactor robot who is left on an abandoned Earth to clean up the trash. He lives his life, alone, and perfectly content with his Hello, Dolly! VHS and pet cockroach, but when Eve, a probe sent by the Axion ship, arrives, the two fall in love. But when Eve is taken back to the ship, Wall-E follows her across the galaxy to not only reunite with her but save the human race from itself.
Amanda’s Rank: 2
If you’re looking to see the greatest love story ever told in ten minutes, look no further than UP. The film centers on the relationship between Carl Fredrickson, an old man and grumpy widower, and an energetic Wilderness Explorer named Russell. When he’s ordered to leave his home and go to an old folks’ home, Mr. Fredrickson ties thousands of balloons to his house and sets out on a journey to see the wilds of South America–a promise he made to his late wife, Ellie. Along the way, Mr. Fredrickson learns to let Russell in and the two create a sweet bond that lasts beyond their adventure.
Amanda’s Rank: 3
Toy Story 3
Fifteen years after the first film, Toy Story 3 returns to Andy’s toys on the verge of watching Andy go to college. After a mix up, Woody, Buzz, and the others are brought to Sunnyside Day Care. There, they meet Lotso, Big Baby, and Ken and the other toys decide to stay at the day care so they can be played with once again. Woody tries to get back to Andy but is found by Bonnie, the owner of the day care’s daughter and he is taken home with her. It’s there that Woody learns that Lotso is running the day care like a prison. Woody returns to Sunnyside and he and the other toys must fight against Lotso in order to escape and return to Andy. And let’s be honest: if you didn’t cry at the end of this film, you’re lying.
Amanda’s Rank: 11
Although this sequel got mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, it managed to still tell a story focused on friendship that is always at the heart of a Pixar film. Lightning McQueen and Mater journey to Japan and Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix. But there’s a whole lot of spying going on in the race and Mater gets caught up in a bit of espionage which always results in laughs.
Amanda’s Rank: 19
The first and only Disney Princess from a Pixar film, Brave tells the story of Merida, a young princess in Scotland that must make a choice between three different suitors. But when she tries to tell her mother that she would rather wait and remain single, Queen Eleanor doesn’t listen. After a bit of a misunderstanding with a witch, Merida must find a way to turn her mother back from being a bear. It’s the very first Disney Princess film that does not focus on a romantic relationship, but rather, the relationship between mothers and daughters.
Amanda’s Rank: 4
The first time Disney has decided to make a prequel, Monsters University shows us the origins of Sulley and Mike and their friendship that we see in Monsters, Inc. The film tells the story of the two monsters and their time studying in college to both become scarers. It’s there that they start off as heated rivals but slowly become friends where they become the dynamic duo we know from the original film.
Amanda’s Rank: 14
Definitely the most forward thinking Pixar film, this story tackles difficult topics such as mental illness and depression. The story focuses on Riley, a young girl who recently moved from Minnesota to California, and the five emotions in her head: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, and Joy. Riley manages to be happy when Joy keeps Sadness away but when both Joy and Sadness get lost in Riley’s subconscious, Riley becomes angry and scared and sad without knowing why. It’s a powerful story that proves you can’t know joy without a little sadness.
Amanda’s Rank: 1
The Good Dinosaur
In a world where the dinosaurs never became extinct, dinosaurs are farmers and humans are feral. In the film, we meet Arlo, a young dinosaur who is afraid of almost everything. When his father takes him out to try to toughen him up, tragedy strikes and leaves Arlo alone in an unknown world with no sense of where home might be. He meets a young human boy and together, they try to make their way home, along the way coming into contact with other creatures and dinosaurs–some good and some bad.
Amanda’s Rank: 12
After over ten years of Ellen DeGeneres begging Pixar to tell Dory’s story, we got Finding Dory. Set after the adventures to save Nemo from Sydney, Dory suddenly remembers where she came from and remembers her parents. She sets out on an adventure across the sea to California to find her parents. After getting caught in plastic rings, Dory is brought to an aquarium where she meets countless fish and whales that recognize her and help her in her journey to find her parents.
Amanda’s Rank: 15
Who knew so many stories could be told about talking cars?! The third film in the Cars series was released to much better reviews than that of its predecessor and praised for its emotional story and crisp animation. The story focuses on Lightning McQueen where he sets out to prove to a new generation of hi-tech race cars that he is still the best racer in the world.
Amanda’s Rank: 18
The most recent Pixar film is also one of the highest praised films to come out of the company. Praised for its animation, music, vocal performances, emotional story, and respect to Mexican culture, this film has already won multiple awards including Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globes. It tells the story of Miguel, a young boy who is accidentally transported to the World of the Dead where he seeks out his great-great-grandfather, a famous singer, and tries to bring him back to his family in the World of the Living.
Amanda’s Rank: 7
1. Inside Out
5. Toy Story
6. A Bug’s Life
8. The Incredibles
9. Monsters, Inc.
10. Finding Nemo
11. Toy Story 3
12. The Good Dinosaur
13. Toy Story 2
14. Monsters University
15. Finding Dory
18. Cars 3
19. Cars 2
How would you rank the Pixar films? How does your list compare with ours? What are your favorites? Your least favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
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