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Ranking Every Pixar Film To Date

As I said last year, the pinnacle of modern animation can be found within the releases put out by Pixar (now 21 strong). Ever since they started up with A Bug’s Life, their films have been hotly anticipated, both by critics and audiences alike. Now, with Toy Story 4 hitting theaters in a few days, they’ve continued an all but unparalleled run of excellence. Their lows haven’t been especially low, in particular when compared to the competition, while their highs have been a number of instant classics. Any list of the best animation of the last 50 years has got to include multiple efforts of theirs. That, if nothing else, succinctly sums up why this company does it better than anyone else right now. They are on a different level, plain and simple.

Again, what sets Pixar apart from everyone else is the way that they appeal to both adults and children in equal measure. They make you laugh just as often as they make you cry. Emotions are the key to their success. Sure, the company, teamed up with Disney currently, makes a killing with merchandise and toys, but the experience of seeing the movies is truly what they seek. Any film that leaves you with the emotional power that theirs does is something noteworthy, and they do it better than anyone else. A heaping load of Academy Awards and critical praise is just icing on the cinematic cake. They’ve got Oscar love, but they’ve also received the love of multiple generations of animation fans. That’s the best barometer.

This is spurred on by the aforementioned release this week of Toy Story 4. As a reminder, this is the third sequel in the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story 4 finds both a new beginning as well as potential end for the series. Now living with Bonnie, Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and the rest of Andy’s former toys have a new kid. However, Woody isn’t the focus of Bonnie’s attention, leaving him somewhat without a purpose. When she starts school, he hitches a ride with her to make sure everything is alright. In the process, he witnesses her create her own new toy in Forky (voice of Tony Hale), a spork that doesn’t even understand what toys are. Forky constantly tries to escape to the trash, with Woody, Buzz (voice of Tim Allen), and company attempting to stop him. When this happens on a road trip, Woody ends up stranded on the road with Forky. As the rest of the toys try to keep Bonnie’s parents from driving off, Woody and Forky encounter new toys like Gabby Gabby (voice of Christina Hendricks) and Duke Caboom (voice of Keanu Reeves), as well as an old flame of Woody’s in Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts). To say more about the adventure would be to spoil things, but just know that this is an immensely satisfying tale, in all regards. Josh Cooley directs a screenplay by Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton (though the original screen story is credited to not just Cooley, Folsom, and Stanton, but also Martin Hynes, Rashida Jones, Valerie LaPointe and Will McCormack). Randy Newman provides the music, while the supporting voices include Patricia Arquette, Mel Brooks, Joan Cusack, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Estelle Harris, Jay Hernandez, Bonnie Hunt, Keegan-Michael Key, Laurie Metcalf, Jordan Peele, John Ratzenberger, Carl Reiner, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Betty White, and more.

Here is how I would rank the 21 Pixar movies so far to date:

21. Cars 2
20. Brave
19. Cars
18. Monsters University
17. Cars 3
16. A Bug’s Life
15. The Good Dinosaur
14. Finding Dory
13. Ratatouille
12. Monsters Inc
11. Finding Nemo
10. Up
9. The Incredibles
8. Incredibles 2
7. Inside Out
6. Coco
5. Toy Story 2
4. Toy Story 4
2. Toy Story 3
1. Toy Story

As you can see, the Toy Story franchise is their crown jewel, even more so now in the wake of Toy Story 4, but there’s gold up and down that list. Going forward, as long as Pixar doesn’t ever become too obsessed with sequels, they’ll continue to be the high water mark for animation in Hollywood. Whether it happens to be with original works or sequels as the years progress, Pixar will be the gold standard. Simply put, no one else comes close to doing work like they do. You can see the latest example of this in Toy Story 4, soon to be playing worldwide, and there will be tons of other examples in the years to come. Nobody does it better, that’s for sure…

Be sure to check out Toy Story 4, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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