Pixar is a studio that many people are likely familiar with. The CG-animation powerhouse has produced so many amazing animated films that not only pushed the technology forward, but also appealed to adults despite being marketed for younger demographics.
Even though critics love most Pixar films, general audiences are much pickier about their favorite movies from the studio. So with its newest film Lightyear not too far away, we’ve ranked the top 10 Pixar movies based on their IMDb scores. All of these films are available on Disney+.
10. Soul (8.0)
While Soul came out only two years before the publication of this article, it still makes sense why IMDb users would regard the film so highly. Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a New York jazz pianist who finally lands a major gig before an accident causes his soul to be separated from his body. Now Joe must get back to his body with the help of a rebellious unborn soul named 22 (Tina Fey).
In addition to sporting beautiful animation and terrific voice acting, Soul is another example of what Pixar and writer/director Pete Doctor do best: Take complex themes and ideas such as the Great Beyond and “finding your purpose” and makethem easy to understand for kids without diluting them of their complexity. Souls also features an amazing musical score from Jon Baptiste, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross that successfully combines vibrant jazz with more ethereal sounds. Despite being released exclusively on Disney+ due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Soul won two Oscars the following year — one for Best Animated Feature and another for Best Original Score.
9. Monsters, Inc. (8.1)
Monsters, Inc. is one of Pixar’s older films and also one of its more beloved. The story is set in a world where monsters travel into the real world to scare kids so that they can power their city. However, top scarer James “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and his smaller, one-eyed best friend, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), get stuck with a little human girl named Boo (Mary Gibbs), who they must now return home before the Child Detection Agency (CDA) gets to her first.
Monsters, Inc. is a funny and heartfelt movie that teaches kids and adults that just because someone may look scary, that doesn’t mean they are scary. Although Goodman and Crystal work excellently together, other great turns come from the Bride of Chucky herself, Jennifer Tilly, as Mike’s kind-hearted, one-eyed Medusa-esque girlfriend, Celia, and longtime Pixar animator Bob Peterson as the cranky slug-like receptionist Roz. Also, it’s worth mentioning that frequent Pixar collaborator Randy Newman won an Oscar for writing the end-credits song “If I Didn’t Have You.”
8. Ratatouille (8.1)
While not as old as Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille is still a timeless Pixar classic. Set in the picturesque city of Paris, the story revolves around a talking rat named Remy (Patton Oswalt) who loves cooking so much that he teams up with a restaurant garbage boy named Linguini (Lou Romano) to become the best chef in Paris.
Ratatouille is more funny and emotional than a movie about a talking cartoon rat has any right to be. The phrase “anyone can cook” is said throughout the film, but if you want to dig even deeper, the main message is to not give up on your dreams no matter what you look like or where you come from. On a side note, Lou Romano was an animator at Pixar before he voiced one of the leads in Ratatouille, and he does an excellent job voice acting in this film. Makes you wonder why he didn’t do more voice acting later on?
7. Finding Nemo (8.2)
You may be surprised that Finding Nemo is so low on the list, but that just speaks to the high bar Pixar sets for itself with each new release. The story is about an overprotective clown fish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) who lives in the Great Barrier Reef with his only son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). After scuba divers capture Nemo, Marlin and a forgetful regal blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) travel across the Coral Sea of Australia to get his son back.
Even though it’s an animated movie about talking fish, Finding Nemo features some particularly frightening scenes that may be too intense for little kids. Even so, these scenes heavily factor into the movie’s themes about learning to let go and trust other people’s judgment. Director Andrew Stanton successfully incorporates funny moments in between the film’s more emotional scenes, resulting in a film that lingers in the memory long after the credits have rolled.
6. Inside Out (8.2)
Even in a decade when Pixar mostly put out sequels, the studio still delivered at least one amazing original movie in the 2010s: Inside Out. This film revolves around five personified emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) — who all live inside the head of a young girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). After Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, these emotions need to help her adjust to her new home.
Pete Doctor co-wrote and directed Inside Out five years before co-writing and directing Soul, and just like with the latter, the former takes complex themes such as how emotions work and presents them in a way that kids can not only understand, but also think about long after the credits roll. Even if the plot of Inside Out feels similar to the plots of other Pixar movies, that doesn’t matter because Doctor and company manage to keep it engaging by personifying the different parts of Riley’s brain. For example, everything Riley imagines exists in a theme park called Imagination Land, which features several exciting attractions including a forest full of French fries and a living room where the floor is lava (literally). It’s no wonder why the film is so beloved.
5. Toy Story (8.3)
Of course, this list of best Pixar movies includes the film that started it all. Toy Story centers on a cowboy doll named Woody (Tom Hanks), the leader of a group of toys that comes to life whenever their owner Andy (John Morris) is not around. However, the arrival of a spaceman action figure named Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) threatens Woody’s position as Andy’s favorite toy.
The original Toy Story is not only the first feature film from Pixar, but also the first fully CG-animated film ever made. While the movie’s animation may look dated by today’s standards, it had a major impact on the industry from 1995 onward. On top of that, Toy Story sports amazing voice acting and a funny yet heartfelt story about accepting changes and learning to make friends. Also, we can’t forget to mention Randy Newman’s iconic theme song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” which somehow did not win an Oscar for Best Original Song the year it was nominated.
4. Toy Story 3 (8.3)
There’s a reason why Toy Story 3 is the first animated movie to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The story sees Andy’s toys being accidentally sent to a daycare center right as he’s about to leave for college. Since the daycare is much worse than the toys initially realized, Woody and the gang must find a way out and return home.
Despite being a G-rated family film, Toy Story 3 is much darker than its predecessors and, similar to Finding Nemo, features several scenes that may be frightening for children. Nevertheless, Toy Story 3 still features the charm and emotion that the franchise is famous for and delivers a masterful ending for the trilogy. Yes, Disney and Pixar made Toy Story 4 nine years later, but at least that movie is decent.
3. Up (8.3)
It’s not surprising that Up would appear on this list. The 2009 Pixar classic stars the late, great Ed Asner as Carl Fredricksen, a grumpy old man who attaches balloons to his house so that he can fly it to a beautiful waterfall in South America. However, Carl is soon wrapped up in another predicament involving a young stowaway named Russell (Jordan Nagai), a talking dog named Dug (Bob Peterson), and a large bird named Kevin.
Even though this movie is technically aimed at younger audiences, it somehow has one of the saddest openings of any movie ever. Some people believe that the opening is the only good part, but the rest of the film offers a fun and exciting tale about how you can find an adventure anywhere at any time. Aside from Best Animated Feature, Up was nominated for four other Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture, making it the second fully animated film to be nominated for the latter after 1991’s Beauty and the Beast.
2. WALL∙E (8.4)
It makes sense that Pixar’s first foray into science fiction is the No. 2 movie on this list. WALL∙E tells the story of a lone waste-collecting robot who cleans up the Earth after humanity abandoned it 700 years prior. However, WALL∙E meets a reconnaissance robot named EVE, who he develops feelings for and eventually follows across the galaxy.
WALL∙E also includes profound messages about protecting the environment and not overrelying on technology. The first half of the film is essentially a silent film in that it’s almost devoid of dialogue and forces kids and parents to pay attention to what’s on-screen. Producer Jim Morris brought on famed cinematographer Roger Deakins and famed visual effects artist Dennis Muren to advise on lighting and atmosphere for WALL∙E, so no wonder it looks so gorgeous.
1. Coco (8.4)
Some readers may be surprised that 2017’s Coco is at the top of this list, but it’s still completely understandable why that’s the case. Set during the Mexican holiday known as Day of the Dead, the film follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez),= who loves music, even though the rest of his family hates it. Miguel soon ends up in the mystical Land of the Dead, where he meets several of his ancestors, including the famous Mexican singer Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt).
In addition to featuring the beautiful animation that Pixar is famous for, Coco presents Mexican culture in a way that’s not only authentic and respectful but also accessible to other audiences. The film includes messages about respecting family and finding your identity, which has been done before, but is still engaging here. Oh, and the music of Coco is so great that one of its songs, “Remember Me,” won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2018.
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