Intro by Gowdy Cannon
Up there with the giants of the film industry, Pixar has made an indelible impression on American culture. Moviegoers from 2 to 102 have been mesmerized by these animated stories for nearly 30 years now. What started with the innocence and intrigue of a normal boy playing with his toys that came alive when he left the room, has blossomed into a mushroom cloud of entertainment and influence. And Andy’s innocence is the one thing that seems to tie these diverse movies together. An overwhelming number of Pixar films are so pure of heart, we keep coming back to them, both with new releases and to watch the classics for the 50th time.
We at Rambling Ever On are as captivated as anyone else. And today we rank them, as we are so apt to do. You can read Part One, which covers films 27-11, right here. Below, we proudly present the Top Ten Pixar films.
Coco is an absolutely brilliant piece of work from Pixar. Its diverse art style, moving score, and fantastic acting all mix together to create a masterpiece. Adding to this, the concept of having a story centered around Día de los Muertos and the idea of preserving a family legacy is such a stroke of genius. This is also reflected in its themes of how to fully understand death and how to live your life on Earth in a way that will leave a positive influence.
Primarily, this is seen through the Hector and Ernesto storyline, and I feel this makes this film one of the more emotionally stirring of all the Pixar films. Miguel’s journey in navigating through this vibrant and exciting world makes for one of the most culturally rich films I’ve seen, leaving a lasting impact with its music, art style, and themes. (Caleb Boivin)
If you had told me that a story about a rat controlling a human through his hair and teaching him how to cook would end up being my favorite Pixar film, I would have called you crazy, but there’s Brad Bird to prove me wrong. Ratatouille packs in heart and soul into this already gorgeous looking film with an outstanding cast and score to top it all off. However, while all of these things are wonderful, they don’t alone separate themselves from the other stories Pixar has told in the past; what does is the message that it presents to its audience.
Throughout the film, the central characters Remy and Linguini have to prove themselves over the looming threat of Anton Ego, the most devastatingly cruel food critic in all of France. While their restaurant is known for cooking five-star entrees, Remy instead opts to cook something more traditional in choosing to prepare ratatouille.
When Ego receives the dish, it changes his perspective on how he should be enjoying the food he critiques by reminding him of his humbler upbringing. This is reinstated when it is revealed that the chef that prepared his dish was Remy, a common rat. This reveal follows into his review of the restaurant, highlighting in his words “not anyone can become a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere.”
This movie is my favorite of Pixar’s filmography because of its message that carries with me as a begin to start a new phase of my life, a message that says anyone has the ability to accomplish anything, so it’s fully worth it to give anything a try. Sure, you’ll be likely to fail, but failure is just a common part of humanity and should inspire us to keep going in our pursuits. With all of that in mind, Ratatouille’s story, message, masterful score, and gorgeous visuals are all factors in making this movie my favorite of Pixar’s filmography. (Caleb Boivin)
8. Toy Story
The Godfather of CG animated films. This is the film that put Pixar on the map. In fact, it established Pixar as THE premiere animation studio. Toy Story is fairly simple compared to modern films, and the animation is not on the level of what we see in theaters today, but there is a heart to this film that most newer films simply don’t possess. An energy, a joy, an exuberant need to create and entertain. Toy Story set the standard that most other films are still finding it hard to measure up to. (Phill Lytle)
7. Monsters Inc
Monster’s Inc. was not revolutionary in the way a movie like Toy Story was. It may not tug at your heartstrings like some Pixar movies do. It does, however, hold the distinction of being the funniest Pixar movie. 27 movies and counting, and 22 years since its release it is still the funniest Pixar movie. Bringing in comedy heavyweights like John Goodman and Billy Crystal was a bold strategy, but it totally paid off for them.
This film is more than just a barrel of laughs though. The Sully and Boo relationship is one of Pixar’s strongest. Randall is a great and creepy villain, and let’s not forget Roz who has the most memorable (and hilarious) voice in any Pixar film.
Additionally, the premise of the movie – having a monster society that is powered by the screams (or laughs) of children – is among the most creative in the Pixar catalog. Monster’s Inc. absolutely deserves its spot among the top 10 Pixar films. (Mike Lytle)
6. Toy Story 3
The crowning jewel of this movie in my perception is the heart-melting scene where the toys seem to be done for. And justifiably so. Yet there is so much more to this movie that earns it a spot high on many Pixar ranking lists. Lotso is a fantastic villain. Andy saying goodbye to his toys is emotional in its own right.
And that beginning. Oh, man. My 4-year-old hasn’t learned many movie scenes, but he knows that one by heart from beginning to end. “You’ve got a date with justice, One-Eyed Bart!” “So glad I could catch the train!” It’s so imaginative. The dialogue is fantastic. It floods my whole family with joy.
So even though it had been over a decade since the previous installment, it’s clear in this movie that the magic was still there. (Gowdy Cannon)
5. Finding Nemo
I loved Finding Nemo from the first time I saw it in 2003. It was an emotional ride unlike few other movies I’d ever seen of any genre. But somehow, becoming a dad in 2019 has made the movie even more meaningful. I remember when Liam was 3 days old, holding him in my hands, so tiny (he was 23 days early and barely 5 lbs) and saying, “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.” I know how wrong Marlin was when he said that to his son, but I still felt like I should say it.
Not even five years into parenting I have been proven just as wrong as Marlin was. Yet every time I watch this movie I shed so many tears. Wonderful, joyful, meaningful tears. I see the movie through Marlin’s eyes in a way I never could before.
But I still appreciate my views on the movie before 2019 because they prove even without the parenting bias, this is a phenomenal 100 minutes of cinema. (Gowdy Cannon)
4. The Incredibles
The Incredibles is the first true action film in Pixar’s catalog, but to simply label it an action film is a massive disservice to how truly special the movie actually is. Including everything from pitch-perfect comedy to incisive social commentary, The Incredibles effortlessly juggles multiple cinematic styles, tones, and genres.
At its heart, though, The Incredibles is a film about family and how our strengths, and our weaknesses, if handled with grace and love, can create an atmosphere where every member is valued, cared for, and allowed to reach their true potential. Writer and director, Brad Bird, created a masterpiece of storytelling with this film, defying conventions, elevating the animation genre, and doing it all with humor and pure entertainment. (Phill Lytle)
Rambling Ever On founder and writer Ben Plunkett loved this movie. He passed away a few years ago, so he wasn’t able to take part in the writing of this article, though he had posted his rankings of every Pixar film he had seen up to that point. While what follows will not be a typical blurb like the rest of the films have, we feel it’s important to honor Ben’s love of the film and include as many of his thoughts about the film as possible. Also, and it should go without saying, he wasn’t alone in his love for this film, as is evidenced by it landing at number three on our list.
Here is what Ben said about the movie after his first viewing back in 2009:
I saw this with Daniel, Jen, my nieces, and my sisters yesterday. We all give it a hearty thumbs up. It probably wouldn’t be my number 1 Pixar of all time. However, it would be up the with both Toy Stories, The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Monster’s Inc.Ben Plunket – June 9, 2009
A few years later, in 2014 to be exact, a fellow Rambling Ever On contributor (Mark Sass) made the scandalous declaration that Up was at the bottom of his Pixar list. Ben responded with classic Ben wit and humor,
Oh, it’s at the bottom, is it? You know what’s at the bottom of my list? Your face!Ben Plunket – September 10, 2014
Later in 2018, after another of our writers (Phill Lytle) said that while he loved Up, it had dropped a bit in his overall rankings, Ben responded with this comment,
I liked it quite a bit the first time I watched it but it certainly wasn’t my favorite. I have have loved it more every time I have watched it since.Ben Plunkett – June 13, 2018
When all was said and done, Ben had Up as his favorite Pixar film.
2. Inside Out
Inside Out is my favorite Pixar film. There are many reasons I love it so much, and I could spend a lot of time and type a lot of words going into each of those reasons, but I’ll do my best to keep it as brief and succinct as possible.
In a world that tells us to follow our hearts, find what makes us happy, follow our bliss, and all the rest of that garbage, Inside Out takes a much more mature and wise approach. Life is sad sometimes. There is no getting around that fact. We will all experience deep sadness. Grief and loss will visit each of our lives. We can’t run or hide from this reality. Inside Out patiently and gently teaches viewers to live with that sadness. To let it in, let it do its work, and then learn and grow from it.
It’s a beautiful and transformative way to navigate life. We need more films that are honest and authentic like this, instead of being fed a steady diet of touchy-feely emotionally manipulative nonsense. I will forever be grateful that Inside Out rejects the feel-good mantras of so many popular films and lands on something truer and purer. (Phill Lytle)
For those who know me and my movie sensibilities, it will come as no surprise that WALL-E is my favorite Pixar film (and my favorite animated film as well). It has everything that I believe a great movie should have: a powerful and emotional relationship at its core, strikingly beautiful visuals, a marvelous soundtrack, and a story that keeps the audience engaged.
Pixar captures emotional storytelling like no other animation studio, and WALL-E is no different. The opening of the film introduces the titular character perfectly. We see WALL-E’s day-to-day life as possibly the last robot on Earth. The audience sees his innocence and childlike wonder with simple objects. He loves Rubik’s cubes, lightbulbs, forks and spoons, and many more seemingly basic and boring objects.
Immediately, we care about WALL-E. His personality shines brilliantly in the film’s opening, and as a result, when his love interest Eve is introduced, the audience is already cheering for their relationship to succeed. Eve is newer, shinier, and more elegant than WALL-E, and he is completely enamored with her.
An homage to the early days of cinema with the silent film industry, the first 20 or so minutes is Pixar at its absolute best. With no dialogue outside of the characters giving their names, the audience becomes immersed in Pixar’s best love story. Once Eve shuts down, WALL-E selflessly protects and provides for her. We feel sad for WALL-E’s heartbreak in Eve’s silence, and the rest of the movie follows their journey. Eve’s ship comes back to take her to the Axiom, the shuttle holding all of the human race, and WALL-E follows.
Though this film is now 15 years old, no one would guess it thanks to the movie’s remarkable visuals. My favorite scene in the movie, and my favorite scene Pixar has ever done, is WALL-E and Eve’s dance in space. The colors jump out of the screen. The blueish purple of Eve’s flight trail matched with the white from WALL-E’s fire extinguisher is astonishing in contrast with the blackness of space they are dancing through. Paired with a great score, this scene gets me every time.
This movie deserves its place as one of the greatest ever. To dismiss it as just another kid’s film would be foolish. WALL-E thematically deals with concepts of relationships, love, and sacrifice. Andrew Stanton in his follow-up to the wildly successful Finding Nemo knocks this movie out of the park. (Aidan Lytle)
Final Thoughts about our Pixar list
There you have it! We know you will have your favorites as well so we would love to read about them in the comment section below. Agree or disagree, we love to hear from our readers. Thanks so much for taking this journey with us.