Pixar: Ranking 14 films from worst to best


Pixar logo Image A few months back I questioned whether or not Pixar’s dominance was slipping away. Recently we’ve learned that, because of delays, 2014 will be the first year without a Pixar film since 2005. Pixar’s last film was also their first prequel, Monsters University, which was warmly received by critics and made plenty of money at the box office. While there is no doubt that Monsters University is a good film it simply isn’t in the same league as many of Pixar’s older films. With all that in mind I decided to look back and see how the recent Pixar movies stack up against their classics by ranking Pixar’s films from worst to best.

14. Cars 2

Simply put Cars 2 is Pixar’s only bad film. If Pixar ever sold out it was here. As Mel Brooks once said “merchandising is where the real money from the movie is made” and that is the sole reason that Cars was the first Pixar movie to get a sequel since Toy Story 2 in 1999. The plot is generic, the characters don’t progress at all from the first film and without Paul Newman it feels hollow.

13. Cars

The first sign of real trouble at Pixar. Unlike previous Pixar movies, which adults could enjoy just as much as kids, this one was more kiddish than any before; it simply isn’t as deep as most Pixar films. Cars failed to deal with many of the more complex issues that most Pixar films address. In fact the best part of the movie was during the credits when we got to see “carified” versions of other Pixar films. Cars is still a decent movie but it remains far below the company’s standards.

12. Brave

Brave probably had the best opening scene of any Pixar movie, so much so that I felt ashamed of myself for doubting that the film would be less than amazing. Unfortunately the rest of the movie just reaffirmed what I thought in the first place; it just wasn’t as good as most Pixar films. Brave certainly had its share of magical moments, but they were too few and far between to overcome the boring and predicable plot.

11. Monsters University

I was pretty nervous to see this one. Anyone who has watched Attack of the Clones or Dumb and Dumberer knows how prequels usually turn out. With that said Monsters U may be the best prequel I’d ever seen. It wasn’t perfect but it managed to recapture some of the magic from the original while also bringing something new. Unfortunately like all the films listed so far its plot was somewhat generic, following the traditional college movie formula pretty closely.

10. Monsters Inc.

It feels strange to put a movie this great so low on the list, but basically everything from here on out are among the best animated movies ever made. Like a lot of Pixar films Monsters Inc. took a well known concept, monsters scaring kids, and showed it to us in a way we’ve never seen before. The film is equal parts innovative, heartwarming and hilarious.

9. Ratatouille

The premise for the film, a rat who wants to be a chef and controls a human like a puppet to cook, was bizarre to say the least. If another studio had tried to tackle it I can’t help but feel that it would have been a disaster, but under Pixar the film was a work of art. The film touched on all kinds of important themes and whenever I write a review I try to think back on Anto Ego’s speech about critics towards the film’s end.

8. Finding Nemo

The movie is built on a simple concept, a father looking for his lost child, who by the way are fish. One of the most beautiful films ever made, the underwater landscapes are unlike anything released before or since make it worth seeing on its own. Of course what really made Nemo a classic are the relationships between characters. Marlon learns that he may be too overprotective when he deals with Dory and Nemo learns about trusting his father from his new friends.

7. A Bug’s Life

Pixar’s second film, sandwiched between the releases of the first two Toy Story films, A Bugs Life is easily Pixar’s most underrated film, so much so that it’s the only one of the Pixar films released prior to brining in outside directors not to get the sequel treatment. Yes I know that some may consider putting Bug’s Life ahead of Finding Nemo sacrilege, but the fact of the matter is that A Bug’s Life is one of the best telling of the hero’s journey in decades. Oh and it’s also partially based on Seven Samurai, which is pretty badass.

6. Toy Story

I have no idea how many times I watched this on my old VCR back in the day. To say that I have fond memories of it would be an understatement. Pixar’s very first film is still one of its best; Toy Story is a landmark in animation. It’s an amazing buddy film that will surely bring out the inner child in even the most cynical person. The movie has a lot of impressive morals about growing up and responsibility.

5. Wall-E

One of Pixar’s greatest strengths has always been to take things we don’t care about; toys, bugs, monsters and rats, and use them to touch us. Here they manage to tell one of the best love stores in film history with a pair of nearly silent robotic protagonists. What’s even more amazing about this is how the film uses machines to touch on what it means to be human, to appreciate and create beauty in the world, and of course to love.

4. Toy Story 2

It’s rare to see a film as impressive as Toy Story have a sequel that rivals the original, but that’s exactly what has happened here. It’s even more impressive when one considers that this was originally supposed to be a crappy direct to video sequel. Toy Story 2 takes the themes from the original and expands on them, as well as introducing new elements. The characters from the original also continue to grow and develop while we are introduced to a number of new iconic characters as well.

3. Up

If Wall-E is the perfect romance then Up is the perfect bromance. Its message is a unique one for children’s movies that sometimes we need to give up our dreams. The film’s villain, Charles Muntz, wastes his life  and does terrible things in pursuit of his dream. The hero gives up his dream to do what really matters. It’s also much more mature than most of Pixar’s films, only the second from them to earn a PG rating.

2. Toy Story 3

The one thing rarer than a sequel that surpasses the original is a third film that is the best of them all. Toy Story 3 makes the trilogy one of the greatest of all time. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I nearly cried twice during the movie. Aside from being an amazing caper movie and a filled with equal pats comedy and drama, Toy Story 3 is a movie about moving on and saying goodbye to what, or who we love. For Andy, myself, and millions of others who grew up with Toy Story this movie was a bittersweet farewell to our childhoods.

1. The Incredibles

For the first time Pixar hired an outside director, Brad Bird of The Iron Giant, and the results were nothing short of amazing. There is nothing not to love about this film. The Incredibles calls back to the comics and films of the sixties reminding us of the classic superhero teams like the Fantastic Four. The film touches on some of the most complex themes ever in a American children’s movie, many of which like adultery would only be caught by older viewers. Most importantly, however it’s a movie about what we do for the ones we love, the mistakes we make and forgiveness. Plus it’s the only Pixar movie with Samuel L. Jackson and that has to count for something.

  • TIMMY

    YOUR A FUCKING IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How could you put brave at number 12. Its my favorite pixar movie.
    You want to talk predictable plot lets talk incredible s. super hero fight bad guy. good guy beats bad guy. that is how predictable and boring the incredible s was. By the way wall-e was fucking stupid, along with up. I mean a robot that that can only say his own name? I’m sorry but you must have a low fucking mentality to like that movie.finding nemo was obnoxious and annoying. Toy story 1,2, and 3 were awesome. I liked both cars and monster incorporated.. I f i had to guess you made this list based of rotten tomatoes ratings. meaning you cant think for yourself and have a bunch of old reviewers pick your movies. To conclude your a DUMB FUCK!

    • E. Cartman

      You better return to South Park, Timmy!!!

      • TIMMY

        thats actually funny, but this guy is wrong

        • benrl

          Rawr your subjective opionion is WRONG!

    • Pronk

      Libbbaalowlibbbalow timmah

    • Andrew Arnold

      Do you tongue your mother with that mouth?

    • LiamT

      i didnt think much to brave to be honest.

      i didnt think much to cars the first time i saw it but my 2 year old loves it so ive seen it a good few times now and its grown on me a little. got him cars 2 for xmas, lets hope it isnt THAT bad. i think the list is pretty good to be fair.

      pixar just dont seem to be as good as they used to be though. or maybe dreamworks etc have caught up. how to train your dragon ranks above a few on this list for example.

    • Wraith1980

      *You’re (twice)

      Alongside the other myriad of punctuation and grammatical errors, I would conclude that you, sir, are the dumb fuck.

    • Mr.Burns

      *You’re.

    • Timmy ur an idiot

      lol Brave is the worst Pixar/Disney/DreamWorks movie I have ever seen ever. Hardly any plot, far too few funny moments that were actually funny (they attempted to be funny several times). It really was just Hair Physics: The Movie.
      Did I mention that there was no real plot?

    • stevensaurus

      YOU’RE* A FUCKING IDIOT
      That’s as much as I could read. No one in your* life will ever take you seriously. I guarantee it.

  • TIMMY

    I’m sorry about the language but your simply basing this of ratings, and what you like.I mean i know people who thought cars 2 was their best movie. personally toy story 3,brave and monster inc would be at the top of my list. wall-e,up, and finding nemo would be at the bottom.

    • fred

      Wall -E, Up & Finding Nemo are at the bottom of your list, I disagree but you have a right to your own opinion. I personally think The Incredibles is a superior film to Brave in every way, doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, it just means we all have different opinions man.

      • UofMSpoon2

        I don’t understand how you can like Brave the best, but to each his own. Personally, I liked the first half and the end of that movie, the rest was a complete step down. As for not liking UP, and I’ve said this many times, if a person hates UP, then a person hates movies.

        • fred

          I don’t know how someone could not like “Up” either, but he’s entitled to his opinion eventhough I think he’s wrong and I disagree with him.

        • TIMMY

          funny, I always said a person that likes up has no taste in movies , but to each his own. My list from worst to best
          1.toy story 3-excellent
          2.brave-excellent
          3.toy story-excellent
          4.monsters inc-excellent
          5.cars-not the best , but funny and a solid movie
          6.incredibles- great movie, but overated and predictable
          7.toy story 2- great movie but worst of the trilogy
          8.bugs life- liked as a kid but now its ok
          9. ratatouie- ok
          10.finding nemo- annoying, abnoxious, and extremely overated
          11.cars 2- bad sequel

          12.up-borring,bland , and well overated
          13. wall-e-OVERATED!!!!!!! DUMB, TOOK NO IMAGINATION
          have not seen monster university

  • David Brown

    Up is the most over-rated Pixar movie ever. Only the Cars sequel is worse.

  • Benjamin Ansin

    Can’t argue with opinions, but if I were to make that list it would look very different. I agree with the placing of the Cars movies, but after that we would have to agree to strongly disagree on pretty much everything.

  • Jarbloko

    i preffer cars 2 over BRAVE..brave is my last favorite pixar film

  • McGygas

    Incredibles the best???
    Toy Story 1/3, and i enjoy more cars 2 than Brave

  • Mike

    Benjamin said it best… “Can’t argue with opinions” what makes one movie better than the other? Who’s to say who is right or wrong? Someone who connects with the Cars’ characters is wrong if they like them better than super heroes?

    Overall, Cars are near the bottom of my list too, Brave didn’t do anything for me except for the tribute to Steve Jobs at the end (and I think he’s one of the most overrated people in tech!), I’m one of the few people probably that think the Toy Story movies got worse with each sequel. Monsters University probably ranks near Brave for me too, completely missed the mark for what I wanted out of a movie.

    • UofMSpoon2

      I think we can all agree on the sellout disaster that was Cars 2.

  • Albert

    Monsters U was far better than Ratatouille, and the incredibles No. 1??? How?

  • Mason

    I appreciated your positive and thought out analysis. Thank you for sharing this. It seems that you appreciated the films with heavy emotional subtext; with that, I’m surprised that Toy Story didn’t favor stronger, but it’s crowded at the top. I’ll have to watch A Bug’s Life from the hero’s journey perspective. That concept was new to me since that movie came out, but I always felt that one was highly under appreciated.

  • Terry

    Personally, I would rank Toy Story as #1, Wall-E as #2, Nemo #3, Monsters * & Inc #4,#5, Toy Story #2 and #3 at #6/7 Bugs LIfe #8 and Cars at #9 and the rest a toss up. I actually like Cars 2 better after watching it a few times. Toy Story 1 is king, still the most creative of them all. Well-E is by far the most inventive and a hilarious statement on our future with many subtle jokes and the Monsters series has the most creative world building scheme.

  • Andrew Arnold

    Everyone knows The Lion King is the best Pixar movie!

  • CiaraN

    The guy in Up was called Carl Frederickson, not Charles Muntz…

    • Ed

      There are two guys in Up . The writer is referring to the Villain which is Charles Muntz. The hero is Carl Frederickson. See “The film’s VILLAIN Charles Muntz, wastes his life and does terrible things in pursuit of his dream. The hero gives up his dream to do what really matters.”