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Power Ranking Pixar Films

By popular request!

Toy Story 4 Carnival in Hong Kong Photo by Daniel Fung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Well, we’re now two weeks into #QuarantineLife, so I have now had enough time to re-watch all the Pixar movies! Honestly, it was a really fun experience, and I would highly recommend it, since we’ll probably be stuck inside for a while longer. Without further ado, here’s how I would rank all of the Pixar movies!

22. Cars 2 (2011)

From the time I decided to watch all of the Pixar movies in order to prepare for this article, I dreaded getting to Cars 2. Before writing this, I had only seen Cars 2 once, and my reaction then was that it was the most pointless piece of manufactured garbage intended only for toy sales I had ever seen.

After watching it again, nothing has really changed. This whole story just feels so weird. You’ve got Mater, well Sir Tow Mater, unintentionally becoming a spy with Michael Caine, and somehow nobody notices that he actually isn’t a spy. You’ve got an alarmingly high body count for a children’s movie. And then they throw in a romantic subplot between Mater and Holley Shiftwell that just makes no sense whatsoever. I just feel bleh after watching it.

21. The Good Dinosaur (2015)

I both love and hate The Good Dinosaur. It features some of the prettiest and most amazing animation Pixar has ever done, as well as some of the best music, but I get pulled completely out of the intimate story they are trying to tell every time I see the clunky animation of Arlo. It just doesn’t fit, and it is so freaking distracting. Instead, get a good idea of the good things of this movie by watching the end credits.

I also wholeheartedly believe that this movie should have been a Pixar short showing a more intimate story between Arlo and Spot. Do that and use some more consistent animation so Arlo doesn’t look horrible, and this could be a really great thing. Alas, this is what we have.

20. Toy Story 4 (2019)

I hate everything about this movie. I hate that this movie was ever made. I hate the idea of this film. Toy Story 3 already provided a brilliant ending to the Toy Story franchise, and then Pixar was just like nope. They didn’t even give a good alternative ending. They give a much worse one. I just hate it.

I think what I hate most is that Toy Story has always been about all of the toys. Toy Story 4 is about Woody,and that’s it. Buzz is there for a little while, but is reduced to listening to his “inner voice,” which just happens to give him the right thing to do every single time until it doesn’t. I just hate it.

19. Finding Dory (2016)

Yay for another completely unnecessary sequel that came out before Incredibles 2! I’m not a big fan of Finding Dory. It tries to recapture the magic of the first film, but instead of focusing on the main characters, it almost completely ignores them to focus on the gimmick side character. That’s nothing against Dory; I like how she’s used in the first one, but she did not need a whole film about her. This is one of those movies that is somehow an hour and a half long and still feels way too long.

18. Cars (2006)

This was my first time ever seeing Cars. It was fine. I’ve seen Cars 2 in the past, and it’s certainly much better than that, but I don’t consider Cars in the upper echelon of Pixar movies. In fact, at the point this one was released, I’d say it’s the worst. It wasn’t a bad movie; I just had a hard time feeling invested in any of the main characters. And I really just don’t have much else to say about this one.

17. Cars 3 (2017)

This was...not as bad as I thought it was going to be. And honestly, if you think of it as a direct sequel to Cars, since it has nothing to do with Cars 2, it’s actually not a horrible sequel. I will say that it felt a little like a weird mix of Rocky 3, Rocky 5 and Creed, and that was odd, but I think they did it pretty well.

My biggest issue is that we’ve got three movies, and we don’t really see Lightning McQueen do very well in races. He loses in Cars, albeit purposely. In Cars 2, I honestly couldn’t really tell you what happened, and I just watched it a couple days ago. In Cars 3, he tags out with Cruz so she can go and win the race. I just didn’t feel invested in any of the characters, but as a standalone, I weirdly like it a little better than the original.

16. A Bug’s Life (1998)

So this was my first time ever watching A Bug’s Life. This is one of the few Pixar movies I hadn’t seen before. The beginning slogged a little for me, but once it got going, I started to really enjoy this movie. If nothing else, this movie gives viewers a fun assortment of characters to watch. My personal favorite was our German caterpillar friend Heimlich.

My biggest issues with this movie came from Flik and Hopper, though I had a bigger issue with the latter. I feel like Flik’s character arc has been done a million times. You’ve got this lovable goofball who can never seem to do anything right who has to save the day, and then he ends up getting the girl. It was fine. My issue with Hopper is that he really wasn’t an interesting villain. His main motivation is controlling the ant colony through fear. Like, that’s cool, but I don’t know. I was hoping for more.

15. Brave (2012)

Of the movies that I had not seen coming into this experience, Brave was the one that I was the most intrigued by. I had heard a lot of mixed opinions about it. Some really love it, and some don’t really care for it. To me, this seems like Disney was like, “Hey, we should do another Disney Princess film, but we should let Pixar do it!” And well, that’s what we got.

For the most part, I really liked this movie. It was interesting, albeit simple, story, and I really like Merida as a character. It also helps that I tend to be intrigued by films that showcase Scottish culture. As far as issues with this movie, I think there are a number of things that are a little too convenient, like how the rare will-o’-the-wisps show up ALL THE FREAKING TIME. The movie was also very predictable. As soon as the witch told the story about the prince coming to her, I instantly knew that she was talking about Mor’Du.

14. Incredibles 2 (2018)

This movie came out about 10 years too late. It’s not a bad movie. It’s a lot of fun, good story line, a natural continuation of the first movie, but I think it misses the mark. The villain, Evelyn Deaver, in addition to being the most predictable plot twist ever was just not a very interesting villain. I mean, it’s tough to follow up Syndrome, but I think they could have done better.

I will say that I really enjoy getting to learn more about some of the other Supers that we meet in the movie. Each of them is very unique and they fit into the story really well.

13. Finding Nemo (2003)

This is one of the first Pixar movies outside of Toy Story that I really remember watching when I was growing up. It’s a great story and, in my opinion, where Pixar’s quality of animation takes a massive leap. The animation up to this point was already incredible, but I think it takes a pretty significant leap from Monsters, Inc.

In terms of the characters, we see yet another diverse group of characters. I really like the relationship that we see with Marlin and Dory. At the beginning, Marlin couldn’t stand Dory, but over time, he grew to appreciate her. Marlin as a whole has a great character arc throughout the whole film.

12. Monsters University (2013)

Ahh...Monsters University, the movie that shows you that even if you get expelled from college, you can go work your way up to the top of a big corporation! But really, I have always enjoyed Monsters University. It may not be the greatest movie in the world, but it’s a lot of fun getting to see how Mike and Sully came together.

I also love that Nathan Fillion is in this movie. He’s one of my favorite actors, and it was fun to see him as Johnny, the leader of Roar Omega Roar. We also get to see a lovable collection of goofballs with Oozma Kappa. Art might be one of my favorite characters in either movie.

11. Ratatouille (2007)

I think Ratatouille tends to be one of the more underrated Pixar movies. I wouldn’t quite put it in the upper echelon of Pixar movies, but I think it’s a very good one. It’s an interesting story. The writers do a good job of exploring the relationship between Remy and Linguini despite them not being able to communicate through words. Michael Giacchino also provides us with yet another great score.

One thing that keeps me from putting Ratatouille in the upper echelon of Pixar films is the conflict between Remy and Linguini that causes them to split up before the rat colony comes to rob the kitchen and Remy kicks them out. To be frank, I just don’t buy it.

10. Onward (2020)

I’ve now seen Onward twice, and I liked it a whole lot more the second time. It has a very heartwarming story with such a unique setting with the urban fantasy. I don’t want to say too much since it is still fairly new and a whole lot of folks probably still haven’t seen it. I wouldn’t put it in the upper echelon of Pixar films, but it is definitely a goof one.

9. Toy Story (1995)

Man, the movie that started it all. Toy Story is an absolute classic, but it’s not without its flaws. My biggest issue with the movie is Woody. He is one of the heroes, and we’re supposed to be rooting for him, but he just makes it so hard sometimes. He gets jealous when Buzz shows up, so he hatches a plan to completely get rid of him, only backing off when everyone turns against him for his completely insane plan.

One thing that really stands out to me with Toy Story is how incredibly detailed some of the things in this movie are. Take Sid, for instance. Sure, he’s a bad kid. But take a closer look at his family life, specifically his dad. Sid’s dad appears in only one scene: when Buzz and Woody are in the hallway and Scud (Sid’s dog) comes up to eat them, forcing them to split up. Buzz ends up in a room where there is a TV playing and empty cans all over the room. You also briefly see the foot of who we can only assume is Sid’s dad, passed out watching TV in the middle of the day. Between that and the fact that Sid doesn’t have sheets on his bed and is pretty much allowed to do whatever he wants to, and it’s pretty clear that Sid doesn’t really have a great home life.

8. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Now, that is a satisfying conclusion! I know that this isn’t the last Toy Story movie, but it should have been! The ending we get where Andy passes on the toys to Bonnie is the proper goodbye we all deserved. I remember watching this movie for the first time, watching them all grab each other’s hands as they faced certain death. I thought, Pixar isn’t going to go through with this...are they? The way they handled it was absolutely perfect.

Now what about the rest of the movie? It helped get to the ending we got, and we got Spanish Buzz which was a lot of fun, but if I’m being perfectly honest, the rest of it is not super memorable. It was mostly fine, but nothing more than that.

7. Up (2009)

There are so many good things about Up. Who can forget the tear-jerking beginning and end of this movie. What Up does incredibly well is show the progression of relationships, whether that be with Carl and Ellie or Carl and Russell/Kevin/Doug. It’s just amazing.

I will say, though, I am not one of those who is overly enamored with Up. The beginning and the end are among the best of those in Pixar. My issue comes with what happens in the middle. There are a few things that are just a little too convenient that just work out, and that takes me out of the movie. For instance, you’ve got Charles Muntz’s dogs. I really like Alpha and Dug, but the dog-like characteristics make them a little too beatable at the end.

6. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Now, that’s how you do a sequel! Toy Story 2 is my favorite of the series and for good reason. You get to bring back these classic heroes and see how they’ve progressed since the first movie, while also bringing in some fun new characters. The introduction of Jessie and the rest of the Round-Up gang is one of my favorite parts of this movie. I tend to be a bit of a lore nerd when it comes to different film series, so getting to learn about where Woody comes from (while Woody is also learning it) is such a cool idea.

I really like Stinky Pete as the villain in Toy Story 2. While he’s probably not the greatest villain in the world, he’s fun and his motives make sense. He becomes the way he is because of his own dark past where he never got chosen by the kids, and then he was able to manipulate Jessie (whose owner abandoned her) into going along with everything. I will say that I think Woody gave in just a little too easily for my liking, but overall, this is a great movie!

5. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Wow, it had been a few years since I’ve seen Monsters, Inc. and I forgot just how good this movie was. Starting at the beginning, it does a great job of introducing how this world works. It’s another great example of how well Pixar pays attention to things that seem minor or inconsequential, like the fact that Monsters use odorant instead of deodorant .

Mike and Sully are unique and interesting characters, and we get Steve Buscemi playing one of the primary antagonists in the film, which is always fun. The twist with Mr. Waternoose is done incredibly well. I remember watching this the first time, not expecting it at all. Really, just all of the characters in this movie are incredible. This is one of my friend’s favorite movies of all time, and I completely get it.

4. WALL-E (2008)

Wow, what a [Foreigner] movie! What Pixar does really well is personify things that you wouldn’t normally think of, whether that be robots, emotions, toys, whatever it may be. Out of anything, I think WALL-E is the single greatest example of how well Pixar does that. I sat down and watched all of these in order, and this was the first movie to truly make me emotional. There were tears when Eve rebuilt WALL-E. It’s just a beautifully told story, and one that I don’t think you can watch too many times.

3. The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles was one of my favorite movies growing up, and quite honestly, it’s still very much up there. I love almost every single thing about this movie. It features an interesting idea for a movie, an incredible villain, a fun team of superheroes, and some absolutely incredible music.

My biggest complaint is that we didn’t get a sequel to this movie sooner. I spoke a little more about this in the entry for Incredibles 2, but we should have gotten that movie long before Cars 2.

2. Inside Out (2015)

Man, I freaking LOVE this movie. From the very first time I saw it, I have absolutely loved it. The way that it explains how emotions and memories work is mind-blowing, and each of the emotions we see are well-acted, well-developed characters. And don’t tell me you didn’t cry when Bing Bong jumped off the rocket so Joy could make it, because I’ll know you’re lying. YOU ALSO GET MY FAVORITE PIXAR SHORT OF ALL TIME!!!

If I had to pick something about this movie that I don’t like, it would probably be that it’s too short. The whole movie is about an hour and a half, and I think Pixar could have pushed it closer to two hours, but it is what it is.

1. Coco (2017)

Pixar has had some absolutely phenomenal movies these last few years, and Coco is right near the top. From the music to the story to the animation and learning about Mexican culture, I love every single thing about this movie. I still tear up every time Miguel sings Remember Me to Coco. It’s just freaking beautiful.

One thing that is really cool with Disney+ is that it gives you the option to watch Coco in Spanish (though you do have to go into the settings and actually change the language to Spanish). For this viewing, I watched it in Spanish with English subtitles. Coming from someone that typically enjoys foreign films, it was a really fun experience, especially hearing the songs in the original Spanish.

How would you rank the Pixar movies?