Every Pixar Movie Ranked

16. Brave (2012)

Budget: $185million
Box Office: $539million
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Heritage and family expectations are the focus of 2012 coming-of-age Pixar film Brave, which tells of a would-be princess denying her birthright to pursue something more true to herself. Will-o’-the-wisps and spooky woods with eccentric witches ensure a classic Disney animation feel, perhaps indicating that the plan all along was for Merida to become Pixar’s first official Disney princess. With a mother-daughter relationship at its core, and lots of lovely titbits to accompany its moving central narrative, Brave may not be the best of its era but is still a memorable and well-liked Pixar film.

Setting an animated film in Scotland, then choosing to fill the skies with the grey that is stereotypical of the nation’s usual rainy weather, didn’t create the brightest or most enticing backdrop of all Pixar films, but the contrast it offered to the more magical elements of Brave (including Merida’s orange hair) made for an enticing visual presentation nonetheless. With positive values at its core, the most significant of which was the message that young women could and should pursue self-fulfilment instead of finding it in a man (which was quite the contrast from the Walt Disney Animation films of eras gone by), and some interesting lore building (especially regarding the unofficial but interesting Pixar Timeline Theory), Brave is a memorable and much-loved Pixar film even if it isn’t one of their stone cold classics.


Recommended for you: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty: Classic Disney Princesses Through the Eyes of a Modern Maiden

15. Turning Red (2022)

Budget: $175million
Box Office: $20.1million
Director: Domee Shi

Turning Red Review

Turning Red was a bit of a cultural phenomenon when it was released day-and-date in (some) cinemas and on Disney Plus. Domee Shi followed up her Oscar-winning animated short Bao with this story of a 13-year-old girl battling with bodily changes and fighting for individual freedoms from her controlling mother, a story that connected with a lot children and adults (especially after having experienced the intimacy of lockdowns with parents). Another of Pixar’s recent stories of humans in our human world, Turning Red blends teenage fandom and high school anxieties with turning into a giant red panda per a family curse passed down through generations.

A story by a woman about girls is (sadly) unique to Turning Red in the Pixar filmography, and isn’t it amazing what that kind of representation can do for people? Turning Red is much like classic Disney Animation in how it tackles a subject that is hard to broach with children, and how it offers those same children a voice within it. There are moments where tangential kaiju-style battles run for a little too long, and the pacing in general is inconsistent, but this is a good and important movie.


14. Cars (2006)

Budget: $120million
Box Office: $462million
Director: John Lasseter

Cars is the first of the Pixar’s feature-length films to be released after Disney’s complete takeover in January 2006. After Toy Story, Cars was the next of Pixar’s original stories to receive the sequel treatment.

The star of this car-inhabited universe is the red race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), who is enjoying his big break on the race track, aspiring to be the first rookie to win the Piston Cup. After the final race ends in a three-way draw, McQueen finds himself travelling to California to compete in a tie-break. Though talented and charismatic, Lightning McQueen is reckless, selfish and shallow, alienating many around him including his rivals, crew, team and sponsors. He finds himself humbled after losing his way to California on Route 66, and is forced to carry out community service after causing huge property damage to the sleepy town of Radiator Springs. Despite the threat to his racing career, his time in Radiator Springs teaches him the values of friendship, teamwork and that there is more to life than living in the fast lane.

It is immediately obvious that Cars is the result of the Disney takeover, being the most cynical of the Pixar output to that point; one would wonder if it was produced for the merchandising alone. After the release of the first five outstanding original movies produced by Pixar, which stunned audiences worldwide with their beautiful animation and heartfelt storytelling, Cars comes as a dreadful shock. After Shrek 2 stomped all over The Incredibles at the Box Office, it seems Disney were suitably frightened and attempted the Dreamworks approach with Cars: celebrity voice casting and plenty of snark. As such, Cars loses the universal appeal its Pixar predecessors have. The bizarre concept of a world where all life exists as an automobile lurches to crushing boredom as the ridiculous concept is oddly stuffed with adult concerns such as the American judicial system and sports sponsorship.

 A lot can be said of the hypocrisy of big studio animations producing condescending environmental cautionary tales whilst not taking responsibility for their own practices. Cars, however, takes the biscuit, glorifying the gas-guzzling world of Nascar whilst trying to make the audience care for the plight of the America’s B-roads. Finally, the rubbery lips of the talking cars is some of the ugliest moments of animation in the world of CGI, and the fact they made the cars eyes the windows and not the headlights (which is how we all imagined them as children) is unforgivable.


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