Our ranking of Pixar films, from worst to best
Pixar's films are just as loved by children and adults. Here are Pixar's 23 films ranked from least successful to best successes.
23. Cars 2 (2011)
Taking Flash McQueen and Mater away from Radiator Springs to go for international theaters - to say nothing of making Mater a spy - did not please audiences and critics alike. This sequel became the first Pixar movie to be ranked as 'rotten' on RottenTomatoes. For good reason.
22. A Bug's Life (1998)
In Pixar's 2001 second film, an ant named Flik seeks outside to save his colony from invading grasshoppers, and ends up recruiting an uniquely diverse group of allies.
Despite the film's decent numbers at the box office, with DreamWorks' Antz released a month earlier, you're more likely to remember the fight between Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg and Pixar's John Lasseter.
21. Cars 3 (2017)
Despite Cars movies being the worst regarded movies from Pixar's stable, they still make them. At least this one tackles interesting themes like mortality and self-confidence, but it still feels half-baked at best.
20. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Maybe one of the more serious stories in Pixar. A coming-of-age story starring an Apatosaurus and his human friend Spot. Still, this movie paled in comparison to Inside out which also came out in 2015.
While professional exhaustion played a part there, Pixar also somewhat alienated its established public with a more somber theme than its usual fare.
19. Brave (2012)
Brave smacks a bit too much of Disney tropes. But the movie nonetheless offers one of the most determined female protagonists in any big budget animated movie. Regardless, the movie performed less than other Pixar blockbusters.
18. Cars (2006)
This was the swan's song for Pixar's unfettered creativity, as this was the last film they produced before being bought by the Disney behemoth. Cars was a family rated film, and it put a lampshade on some overused clichés. The story is that of a stock race car learning humility and making friends in a disused countryside town.
17. Onward (2020)
This touching release is the story of a family in an imaginary world. We can follow the adventure of two elves seeking to drag their father out of the realm of the dead. As with most Pixar movies, it serves to illustrate the characters' introspection.
16. Monsters University (2013)
A prequel to the highly successful Monsters Inc, Pixar does a good job of making the story of Mike and Sully's origins as funny and original as the original movie/
15. Soul (2020)
Pete Docter and Kemp Power's last production from Pixar takes us into the world of a struggling musician, who dies following an accident. Before passing into the beyond, he tries to find his own body again.
Jamie Foxx voices the main character with great success. Tina Fey, however, may be grating in her portrayal of '22'.
The real achievement of the film, though, is the surprising animation work enhancing New York City.
14. Monsters Inc. (2001)
The first directing job for Pete Doctor (of Up and Inside out fame), Monsters Inc. is the story of monsters using child screams to sustain their world. It was a genius idea well supported by Billy Crystal and John Goodman's performances. With both smiles and a feel-good story, the film proved Pixar was more than their Toy Story films.
13. Coco (2017)
A first for Pixar, this film is holiday-themed. Lee Unkirch (Toy Story) gives us a powerful story of a family that never forgets its past, during the 'Dia de los muertos' (Day of the dead) in Mexico. Handkerchiefs are a must for this one.
12. The Incredibles 2 (2017)
A whopping 14 years after the original success, Brad Bird finally came back with a sequel. Following exactly where the first story left off, the sequel finds its mark with all of the thrill and emotion of the original, although it does recycle the supposedly resolved familial conflicts.
11. Finding Dory (2016)
2016's most popular animated film, Finding Nemo's sequel did not disappoint. This time, the focus is on Dory as she tries to find her parents. With a return of fan favorites and a slew of new arrivals, Pixar showed us all they had lost none of their touch.
10. Toy Story 2 (1999)
The second Toy Story casts Woody into the paws of the toy reseller who prepares to ship the cloth cowboy for a hefty sum. Buzz and the rest of the toys attempt to save him. Just like the first one, this film brings tense dramas and high emotions to the table, somehow renewing its magical trick of getting us to feel for plastic toys.
Our Ranking of Pixar Films, From Worst to Best
Up is a perfect example of Pixar tackling adult themes once they found their mark in Hollywood. Focused on love and being unable to let go, the story of an old man traveling to a distant land on a floating house is a poetic hymn to life.
8. Toy Story 4 (2019)
Although many thought that the third Toy Story was very close to the other films, Toy Story 4 does a decent job of trying to match its predecessor. Although it doesn't pull emotional strings as strongly as the third, it is a worthy addition thanks to new characters like The Fork and Duke Caboom.
7. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Critically acclaimed at release and nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, the third Toy Story is the most emotionally charged of the franchise to date. Woody, Buzz and the gang find themselves mistakenly delivered to a daycare centre, where they encounter interesting new toys.
6. The Incredibles (2004)
Resembling grand Hollywood superhero/secret agent films, The Incredibles drew the ire of those who did not want Pixar to produce such films. But the story of a superhero who has passed his prime and then realises that he is even more powerful when his family is at his side, reveals the importance Pixar attaches to emotion.
5. Inside out (2015)
Inside out is a perfect example of everything that made Pixar's success. The original story of a growing young girl, told through its personified emotions, and a trip towards self-discovery; all of this could have been trite. But Pixar's skill shone through.
4. Ratatouille (2007)
A touching examination on art, and how its commercialisation can make it lose its essence. It is one of the most emotionally rich films ever made, by Pixar or otherwise.
3. Finding Nemo (2003)
This sarcastic comedy by Albert Brooks, as opposed to the gently naive tone of Ellen DeGeneres, as well as this magnificent underwater world made Finding Nemo a success. And the box office figures speak for themselves.
2. Toy Story (1995)
There it is. The film that launched it all. John Lasseter directed it and put practically all the company's chips in one basket. Toy Story raised the level of the stories that animated films could tell. And its splendid computer-generated animation was the final nail in the coffin for Disney's traditional hand-drawn work.
1. WALL-E (2008)
Director Andrew Stanton (from Finding Nemo) delivers a remarkable story that celebrates old cinema (silent films, musicals) while delivering a message about the need to protect the planet (and our health) as technology takes over.
Pixar has a reputation for encouraging its audience to take care of fictional creatures and objects, but with WALL-E, this connection with the characters - the feeling that they are living beings - is so closely linked to our experience as viewers that we must remember that it is only a story. And this is the best way to tell a story.