With 10 uniformly stellar films under their belt, Pixar has quickly and decisively established themselves as the most consistently impressive animation studio around. It’s not surprising to note, then, that compiling a list of their five best efforts is no small feat, as they seem to raise the bar with every new release. (It’s almost like asking a parent which of their kids they like best.)
We decided to go with those films that boast the most entertainment bang for your buck, with some consideration also given to the titles that seem as though they’ll endure in the years and decades to come:
1. 'Up' (2009)
A sure contender for best sequel of all time, Toy Story 2 remains one of Pixar’s crowning achievements – which is especially impressive when you consider its place as only the studio’s third theatrical outing. The movie effectively marked the first time that Pixar was able to seamlessly bundle several genres into one enthralling package, which ensures that the film is as hilarious as it is dramatic as it is suspenseful. The now-legendary chemistry between all the toys – but especially Woody and Buzz – certainly plays an instrumental role in the movie’s success, yet it’s worth noting that the film’s emotional high point comes with a tear-jerking montage detailing a new characters’ tragic past. A truly remarkable and memorable piece of work.
Though it would go on to become a colossal hit, WALL-E represented a huge gamble for Pixar. The hero doesn’t speak a word of dialogue and the film’s first third feels like a silent movie, yet director Andrew Stanton does an amazing job of capturing the viewer’s interest right from the opening frames. This is due primarily to the presence of as endearing a character as Pixar has ever created, with WALL-E’s absolutely adorable nature ensuring that the audience can’t help but root for the little guy through his various hair-raising adventures. And, if that wasn’t enough, the movie is also far more romantic that its sci-fi premise might’ve indicated – with WALL-E’s touching relationship with EVE resulting in an irresistibly upbeat vibe.
This heart-warming film, which remains Pixar’s highest grossing effort, follows a straight-laced clownfish as he embarks on an adventurous journey to Sydney, Australia after his son is captured by a scuba diver, with the zany odyssey that ensues packed to the gills with off-the-wall supporting characters and thrilling action sequences. And although the movie features plenty of entertainingly madcap elements (including Ellen DeGeneres’ frequently hilarious turn as the forgetful Dory), Finding Nemo mostly comes off as a touching look at the relationship between a widowed father and his beloved young son – which has effectively earned the movie a place alongside such memorable father/son stories as Field of Dreams and Life is Beautiful.
Pixar’s first movie, Toy Story, immediately established the fledgling studio as a serious contender within the animation world. The film boasts a pair of central characters that have rightfully earned a permanent place in the pop-culture landscape, with Woody and Buzz’s irresistible chemistry together just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Toy Story’s ample pleasures. The film also contains what just might be one of the most flawless voice casts in animated-movie history, as Tom Hanks and Tim Allen’s stellar work is matched by an eclectic roster of supporting performers. Though not quite as consistently engrossing as its sequel, Toy Story is nevertheless a landmark achievement that holds as much appeal for adults as it does for kids.