Ranking the Sublime

Around the office we often get into conversations about our favorite movies, what we’ve seen recently and what’s worth watching or avoiding on DVD. On more than one occasion the topic of Pixar films have come up, which ones are our favorites and why. After encountering a post I found from Airbag on the Metacritic ratings for Pixar films, it seemed only natural that I jot down my own ratings for these lovable movies. Feel free to post your own ratings in the comments if you’d like to play along.

UPDATE: I’ve updated my list to include Up, Cars 2 and Brave. No, I’ve still not seen Toy Story 3 yet. I know, I know.

1. The Incredibles – I own every Pixar movie on DVD (except WALL•E since it’s not out yet) and The Incredibles is the one that gets popped in the most. The story moves along at a great pace, all of the characters are treated equally, the action sequences are worthy of blockbuster live action flicks and the art direction is to die for. Love it.

2. Up – Full of heart and original storytelling, Up is a tour-de-force for Pixar. The first 15 minutes will have you blubbering like an idiot, but you need that emotional attachment in order for the rest of the story to have meaning. Up also has one of the best end-credit sequences of any Pixar flick.

3. WALL•E – The only reason why this isn’t number one on my list is probably because I can’t watch it whenever I want. Once the DVD comes out, it may supplant The Incredibles at my favorite. Amazing what the folks at Pixar did with little if any dialog, a desolate, future Earth and a potted plant. Not as funny as some of the other Pixar flicks, but every bit a classic.

4. Toy Story – The one, the only, the original. Although the computer animation is starting to show its age, the story, characters and humor can hardly be beat. Woody & Buzz make the best comedy duo since Abbot and Costello and are surrounded by an incredibly funny cast of sidekicks to boot.

5. A Bug’s Life – For lots of people this one is usually farther down on the list, but I really liked Bug’s Life. The story is original, the misfit saves the day and PT Flea’s troop of traveling bugs manages to completely steal the show. I wish Pixar would have made a sequel for this instead of the upcoming Cars 2.

6. Finding Nemo – Overall I like Finding Nemo a great deal, but over time I found it really is geared more for children. Unlike The Incredibles, much of the comedy is childish and the incessant worrying of Nemo’s dad, played by manic Albert Brooks, gets on my nerves after the first hour.

7. Cars – I enjoyed Cars more than I thought I would, especially the lovable tow truck Mater. The movie suffers from the creator’s obvious indulgence with a love of automobiles and runs a bit too long for my tastes. That being said, it does have the most infectious song of all of Pixar’s flicks – Cheryl Crow’s Real Gone, which I love.

8. Toy Story 2 – There are lots of parts about Toy Story 2 I love like Buzz and Woody’s journey through a huge real-life toy store. Then there are parts that kill the movie for me like the depressingly sad montage of Jessie being discarded by her owner. This single scene makes me second guess myself whenever I go to put the DVD in, which is a bad thing.

9. Brave – Brave starts out fresh and bold and full of promise but soon devolves into what is basically an elaborate chase sequence. It does have strong characters and tons of humor going for it, but the lead character isn’t treated with the respect she deserves and the story suffers because of it. Here’s my review.

10. Monsters, Inc. – I love the concept behind Monsters, Inc. as well as the characters and the voice work by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. And although Boo is terribly adorable, I’ve never cared for the way Sulley seems to throw away his life-long relationship with his best friend Mike just because this little girl follows him around and calls him “Kitty!”. There’s a real mean streak at the heart of Monsters, Inc. that I think many people overlook because of the humor and the adorable little girl and it bothers me.

11. Cars 2 – Lots of people thought the sequel to Cars was evidence that Pixar was slipping. Overall I disagree with that assessment, but there’s no denying that Cars 2 isn’t as strong as the first. There’s very little grease on these gears, but that doesn’t stop the movie from being a good popcorn flick.

12. Ratatouille – Critics loved it. I didn’t. Sadly, it’s the only Pixar film I regret buying. I didn’t go to see it in the theater which could be part of the problem. Despite this, I was sure I was going to love it on DVD at home but again, I didn’t. I’m not sure if it’s the whole “rats & cooking” thing, the focus on location rather than story or what, but Ratatouille left me cold. That being said, it’s still 100x better than many animated flicks out there.

As a bonus, I’m also including my 5 favorite Pixar short films here as well. I’ve been in love with these little movies since I first saw Knick Knack at RIT. Amazingly, Pixar keeps cranking out winners with their short films, although some are more successful than others.

1. For the Birds
2. Knick Knack
3. Presto
4. Jack-Jack Attack
5. Luxo Jr.


  1. > Critics loved it. I didn’t. Sadly, it’s the only Pixar film I regret buying.

    OMG, that’s my favorite. That movie makes me want to push away from my desk and forget I ever had to deal with the Internet.

  2. But you’ve got to admit that Ellen DeGeneres is darn funny in Nemo. She’s the best part.

    I also think that Ratatouille had my favorite climactic scene. Who doesn’t remember being swept back to childhood with a bite of food? Seeing the cold, hard critic melt is my favorite scene in any Pixar movie.

  3. Hey, when is Pixar going to change the light bulb on Luxo to a compact fluorescent light bulb? I want to know!

    Seriously, I don’t know if I could rank them. I’m just excited to be able to watch them with Lily for the first time. I think she’s only seen Ratatouille.

  4. My rankings:

    1. Incredibles
    2. Toy Story 2
    3. Ratatouille
    4. Toy Story
    5. Monsters, Inc.
    6. Finding Nemo
    7. Bugs Life
    8. Cars
    9. Wall-E

    The Incredibles rates as one of the very best films I’ve ever seen. Really amazed at the Ayn Rand-like message behind Brad Bird’s two Pixar films, i.e., “get out of the way of the super-people.” Very un-Disney-like…and because of that, very appealing.

    Regarding Wall-E, what can I say…I was bored out of my mind. Not during the first 15 minutes, which I loved, but everything after Eve showed up, and especially the stuff on the starship.

    Haven’t seen “Up” yet, and probably won’t for a week or two. I’m kind of a Pixar contrarian, so I’m very curious to find out what I think about it.

    Regarding the shorts:
    1. Luxo Jr.
    2. Boundin’
    3. Presto
    4. Jack-Jack Attack

    Unless I’ve forgotten one, I literally hated every other short. For me at least, Pixar’s overall record for shorts has been depressingly poor.

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