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Top 5 Pixar Animated Films

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I compare Pixar to what Miramax used to be when it first started. When Miramax started, it was a revolution to film. It created trends and romanticized independent film. Pixar has romanticized animation. Not just because they used computer animation, but because what they did with it. Anyone can make decent animation (Sony made great animation for Final Fantasy), but not many can tell good stories. Pixar manages to combine the two in order to fulfill the stories’ promise and potential.

Could Toy Story have worked using classic hand-drawn animation? Possibly, but only because the story is that good enough. But it wouldn’t have been so admired. Pixar works at telling good stories first. This should be the basis of all films. The animation comes second and only works with a good story. In homage to Pixar, I have come up with my list of the top 5 Pixar movies of all time.

1. Toy Story 2: Not many sequels can ever come close to their original counterparts. But Toy Story 2 manages not only to continue Toy Story’s original flavor, but somehow manages to surpass it. The friendship of Woody and Buzz are tested when Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector and it is up to Buzz and company to save Woody before Woody is sold to a museum in Japan. Wood’s perspective on life is shifted a bit when he meets Jessie and how she was dumped by her owner, but Woody’s faith never changes because he knows that one of the meanings of life is to enjoy it.

2. Monster’s Inc.: Talk about imagination. Pixar beat Disney at its own game of using children’s stories and fairy tales to inspire ideas for films. Monster’s Inc uses the story of monsters in the closet to conjure up an original story about a possible reason as to why monsters come out of our closets to scare us. The bond that Scully develops with Boo is very touching.

3. The Incredibles: This was the first Pixar movie that I actually saw in the theaters before seeing it on DVD. Every other movie I saw on DVD first. Truthfully, I was disappointed after seeing it in the theater. I reluctantly bought it on DVD when it first came out, and my entire mind changed watching The Incredibles on the smaller screen versus the big one. The relationship between Mr. Incredible and Mrs. Incredible are much more deeper and the concern that they have for their children is very real and heartfelt. Apparently the end scene was so good and close to what the upcoming The Fantastic Four had that its producers had to almost completely redo its major battle scene. Incredible.

4. Toy Story: It was the first full computer generated feature film, which at the time seemed like the only thing to see it for because all of us wanted to be a part of what the future of film was. And in the realm of film history, Toy Story will always be on the same plane as Snow White And The Seven Dwarves. But it was much more. Woody helps to save Buzz from the cluthes of an evil neighbor while also teaching Buzz that there is much more to being a toy.

5. Finding Nemo: I might be one of the few people to have not loved this movie. I liked it, but I couldn’t find myself worried about Nemo whom so many others have been. Maybe I couldn’t appreciate the father/son relationship or the friendship between Dory and Nemo’s father. Who knows. Still enjoyable.

Honorable mention:

1. A Bug’s Life. Although it is unfair to make A Bug’s Life an honorable mention when Pixar has only made 6 full feature films. I could have easily made it a Top 6 list, but that wouldn’t be fair to the other lists. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good film, but it’s just not good enough to crack the top 5.

2. Cars. The next Pixar movie, which was slated to premiere this year was moved to 2006. Too bad. It doesn’t sound the most interesting, and seems to be a little late on that Nascar craze a few years ago. But I was wrong about Finding Nemo. My prediction is Cars will be my fifth favorite Pixar movie. Sorry Finding Nemo.

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About Tan The Man

A proud dork and loser, Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music, and has previously covered the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest and WonderCon.
  • Lono

    Have you heard that Disney owns the Toy Story franchise? They own it from when them and Pixar were friends. Anyhow, you may know they broke up last year because it is apparently Disney’s goal to antagonize every human and business on the planet.

    Anyhow, what is of grave concern to me is that Disney announced they intend to go forward on Toy Story 3 without Pixar. Someone please shoot Michael Eisner, or shoot me if they ever do this movie without Pixar.

    Oh, re-reading your piece reminds me of another Disney management gem. There was a bitter falling out (big surprise) with the Weinstein brothers. So, Disney kept the name ‘Miramax’, but the Weinsteins both left to form their own company.

    So, having squeezed all of the talent out of their industry… look for Dreamworks to take over everything in five years. They still seem to have a commitment to vision and art.

  • Bill Wallo

    I agree on the top three, although I’d put The Incredibles in the second slot. Toy Story 2 was almost a perfect blend; an amazing animated achievement. Finding Nemo didn’t resonate with me (although it was well done), and I must admit to feeling somewhat unexcited about Cars.

    As for Lono’s notion that Dreamworks will be “taking over” in a couple of years, there was an article in (I believe) last month’s Wired where Jeffery Katzenberg – the Disney guru gone renegade – basically conceded that Dreamworks can’t compete with Pixar on quality of animated films and they’re just going to pump out films (such as the really lame Madagascar) as fast as they can. Doesn’t sound exactly like a commitment to “vision and art” to me.

  • Nancy

    My ranking would be Monsters, TS2, TS1; Nemo was a tour de force of effects, but aside from the amusingly laid-back turtles & the pelican, I didn’t connect w/any of them, either. The other movies I just didn’t care for. Cars looks ghastly. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Tan The Man

    I actually read the plot for Toy Story 3, and it doesn’t seem that bad – There is a recall for the Buzz Lightyear dolls and Buzz is shipped to Japan to be destroyed and it’s up to Woody and the gang to save Buzz. But Disney making it gives me a little hesitation.

    Seriously, Dreamworks CANNOT compete with Pixar. In volume, yes – but that’s because Pixar is about quality, not quantity. There used to be some pictures online of the actual Pixar studios in Emeryville, CA. All I can say is that it’s as magical as the films.