With the release of Pixar’s Elemental, the Disney animation studio has officially reached 26 different movies since things began with Toy Story back in 1995. Not all of them have been outstanding, but Pixar’s lineup has become something of a benchmark for animated films in the modern era.
With that in mind, we thought we’d rank all of Pixar’s releases so far (including Elemental). Naturally, opinions will vary, so feel free to let us know your favourites in the comments.
All the Disney Pixar movies, ranked
26. Cars 2
Cars 2 just wasn’t up to scratch with audiences or critics. The story saw Lightning McQueen and Mater travel overseas for a Grand Prix race which turned into a spy thriller for some reason.
It felt like a sequel for the sake of being a sequel and lacked that Pixar charm.
25. The Good Dinosaur
While the animation in The Good Dinosaur was certainly beautiful, the story of the friendship between a young human and Apatosaurus is largely forgettable in the scheme of Pixar stories.
24. Cars 3
Why the execs at Pixar thought to make another Cars sequel after the results of Cars 2 is a mystery to me. Admittedly, the threequel, which sees Lightning McQueen struggle to stay relevant through a new generation of racers, was better than the second film, but it’s still pretty average.
The sequel, prequel, sidequel that was Lightyear was kind of muddled from the start. Was it the origin story of the toy? Was it a solo sequel featuring Tim Allen’s Buzz? Kind of none of the above. Lightyear is the fictional movie that the toy in Toy Story was based upon, which essentially made it a Star Wars-esque sci-fi through the Pixar lens.
The film was by no means terrible, but it failed to really leave a lasting impression, although the emotional timelapse sequence in the opening act is a standout.
Perhaps it was a victim of the pandemic and becoming Pixar’s first direct-to-Disney+ release, but Onward was another film that failed to make much of an impact.
The fantastical story of two brothers on a quest to spend a day with their late father was charming and heartfelt enough, with Chris Pratt and Tom Holland voicing the duo.
A Disney princess story from the perspective of Pixar, Brave tells an inspiring tale. Merida, the strong-willed Scottish princess, chooses to defy tradition and make a deal with a witch (never a good idea), which results in a fantasy quest to reverse a curse before it’s too late.
20. Toy Story 4
Honestly, Toy Story 4 is a pretty impressive feat after the highs of Toy Story 3, but was it really necessary? The fourth film switches focus to Woody and his long-lost friend Bo Peep, but in some ways, it felt like a retread of the second movie, with the group split between Woody and Buzz’s stories for the majority of the runtime.
Luca is no doubt a joyful, vibrant delight of a movie. It’s a coming-of-age friendship saga set in a beautiful seaside Italian town that you won’t regret watching.
19. Monster’s University
The prequel to the classic Monster’s Inc brought a university charm to the Pixar world. While the saga is definitely steeped in Americanism, it’s accessible enough for audiences to enjoy the young adult dramas of trying to follow your dreams during your formative years.
18. A Bug’s Life
A Bug’s Life remains an absolute classic, despite its reliance on some well-trodden story tropes. The story follows Flik, a creative ant doing his best to help his colony with his inventions, only to be cast out when everything goes wrong.
Soul is one of the most inventive films out of Pixar and skillfully represents different ideas of spirituality and the afterlife in beautifully animated ways. It is let down slightly by a lesser storyline set on Earth, but its themes hold true.
16. Turning Red
After being ignored for so long in Pixar movies, adolescent teenage girls rose to the surface in Turning Red, an excellent animated movie about the trials of growing up and fandom.
Pixar’s most recent release, Elemental, is quite frankly delightful. The imagination and design that’s gone into all the animation of the film, as well as its wholesome family story, make it stand out amongst Pixar’s releases, despite some of its reliance on fairly generic story tropes.
14. Incredibles 2
The second Incredibles did not hit the same highs as the original, but it was still a worthy follow-up.
From its relatable parenting jokes to its action-packed sequences, Incredibles 2 is the next evolution of the superhero crimefighting family, and it remains an epic ride.
13. Finding Dory
It’s at this point that ranking the Pixar films gets truly difficult because all of them are so good for their own reasons.
Finding Dory, the sequel following the forgetful Blue Tang as she attempts to reunite with her lost family, is an emotional ride from start to finish, intercut with humour and poignant themes.
The spacefaring adventure of WALL-E definitely holds mass appeal for younger viewers, but its themes are universal enough to speak to all age groups. Plus, it’s just so damn cute.
We’re probably going to cop a lot of flack for this one, but Cars deserves a place in the top half.
The sequels may have been lacklustre, but the first Cars movie is a strong story with nice themes and adrenaline-pumping race sequences. Life is a Highway, after all.
10. Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 is a legendary film for a number of reasons. From its close call with almost complete deletion to its well-crafted story that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at other sequels, it’s a strong instalment in the Toy Story franchise, complete with stunning animation and new characters that instantly win a place in your heart.
Name a quicker way to emotionally destroy a human being than the opening montage of Up. The story that follows is pretty good, too, as elderly Carl goes on an adventure to find his late wife’s dream home of Paradise Falls.
8. Monster’s Inc
We’re playing the greatest hits now. Monster’s Inc is a formative movie in the Pixar lineup, following the secret world of monsters who rely on scaring humans to power their lives – until one little girl changes it all for the better. It’s full of incredible voice performances, a gorgeous animated style and some unforgettable lines.
All of Pixar’s movies are beautifully animated, but it’s hard to beat the aesthetic of Coco. Full of rich and vibrant colours and a thoughtful narrative dealing with culture and death, we dare you not to cry during Coco.
6. The Incredibles
The superhero genre may be done to death these days, but back in the day, The Incredibles was the superhero film. The animated saga focused on a married pair of superheroes who had given up their crime-fighting days to raise a family.
5. Inside Out
Inside Out is perhaps Pixar’s most emotional story to date (sorry, not sorry). The way it not only inventively personifies human emotions but then explores them with depth and care for a broad audience is stunning.
4. Toy Story
The movie that started it all, Toy Story, remains a perfect film to this day. The film was groundbreaking for 3D animation at the time and kickstarted a legacy that remains beloved to this day. It is the embodiment of the Pixar formula, featuring a creative concept, a stellar cast and a heartfelt exploration of relatable themes.
3. Finding Nemo
We’re splitting hairs on the list now, but Finding Nemo will always deserve a place close to the top. The film gave us a beautifully rendered adventure under the sea with quirky characters, stellar performances from the cast and one of the most emotional family stories to date.
2. Toy Story 3
Everyone I know is still traumatised from the garbage compactor scene in Toy Story 3. That’s a testament to its immeasurable quality. Not only did it have a huge legacy to live up to almost a decade later, but Toy Story 3 managed to succeed as the best in the series, following the beloved characters into a new chapter of their lives while pulling at the heartstrings of the audience who had grown up with them.
Behind a simple message (“Everyone can cook”) lies a perfect film. Ratatouille is charming and daring in its ideas, perfectly executed in its animation and a warm blanket of a comfort movie for all ages.
If you’re now keen to take on a Pixar rewatch and rank the film for yourself, you can find all the above entries streaming on Disney+.
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