Every Pixar Movie Ranked

2. Up (2009)

Budget: $175million
Box Office: $735.1million
Director: Pete Docter

The opening 10-minutes of Up, which tell of a lifelong relationship through montage, are some of the best minutes of any contemporary cinema, animated or not; they are utterly heartbreaking. Telling the tale of Ed Asner’s Carl and his wife Ellie, we witness their marriage and buying a house, then illness and death, just so we can understand the backstory of the old man refusing to sell his home to a corporate giant that is demanding it for their new skyscraper. In typical Pixar fashion, the existential philosophy of this opening is bonded to child-like fantasy as the old man lifts his entire home into the sky using helium balloons and flies south in pursuit of fulfilling his wife’s wish of visiting Paradise Falls… only there’s a child unexpectedly clinging to the outside of the house thousands of feet in the air, and now Carl has someone to look after.

Pete Docter’s 2nd Pixar movie after 2001’s similarly as heavy Monsters, Inc., Up is spectacularly crafted in all aspects of filmmaking. It is a remarkable visual feast that features some of the most lovable and easy to distinguish human character models in the Pixar canon, and the way it cycles through colour palettes as Carl’s experiences change is illustrative of a depth of filmmaking knowledge and artistic intent not present in many movies from other studios. Even the rocks in the background of some shots in Up are lifted directly from real-life counterparts at Angel Falls, Guyana (the inspiration for Paradise Falls in the film), and the simple melodies of Michael Giacchino’s score will provoke the most intense reactions. It’s the story that will get you, though.

Up is thematically mature, exceptionally well animated, and rendered at a level of quality that no other studio could get close to at the time. It’s a standout Pixar release in every sense one can be, and while not necessarily as easy for little children to watch as other films listed here, is as outstanding as the studio gets.


1. Wall-E (2008)

Budget: $180million
Box Office: $521.3million
Director: Andrew Stanton

Wall-E Review

In a post-apocalyptic hellscape straight out of the nightmares of street sweepers and garbage collectors, a lonesome trash-compacting robot traverses his immediate environment in an effort to clean up after the over-indulgent humans who have long since left their floating trash islands for the luxury of pleasure-first space cruises. When a more luxurious bot named EVE arrives, scanning the environment for signs of life and acting with violence seemingly as a default, the titular Wall-E falls madly in love. So begins an existential, space-traversing, 21st century Charlie Chaplin-inspired romance that emphasises Pixar’s world-leading ability to capture universal truths in small moments of incredible artistry.

Wall-E was the third Pixar feature directed by Andrew Stanton, and despite incredible work on A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo (and later Finding Dory) it is Wall-E that best cements his legacy, and arguably cements Pixar’s too. The now-famous opening 35 minutes, which are presented with barely a word of dialogue, prove the myth that Pixar and their parent company Disney are dream factories, houses of imagination. They are some of the most engaging minutes in all of 21st century cinema, telling us more about these characters and about ourselves than many of the high-art dramas of the day, all presented with peak visual quality.

For all that Pixar’s lineage of immediate classics had proven the company’s worth long before this 2008 release, Wall-E seemed to be the film that made it inarguable that Pixar were the world leaders in their form, and that the period preceding this film (1995-2008) was the most spectacular of any new production company in history. Wall-E is an exceptional example of game-changing, tremendously engaging, beautifully animated cinema unlike anything else.


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Which Pixar films do you think we ranked correctly? Have we grossly underappreciated any films that you’d consider classics? Let us know in the comments below (really, it helps to spread the word), and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine across Facebook and X (Twitter) for updates on more insightful movie lists.

This was a team project from The Film Magazine. Our writers submitted their personal ranked lists and we used them to formulate our combined list (using the Indy Car points system). Six writers contributed entries to this article. If you like what you read, or simply care to support our independent publication, please consider donating to us via PayPal (it helps us to keep this website online and freely accessible). Thank you.

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