Every Pixar Movie Ranked

13. Soul (2020)

Budget: $150million
Box Office: $121million
Director: Pete Docter

Soul Review

Pete Docter’s impressive run of directorial releases (Monsters, Inc., Up, Inside Out) continued into the 2020s with the lockdown-era release Soul, the Oscar winner for Animated Feature in 2021. It tells of Joe (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher with dreams of becoming a jazz musician, undergoing an existential crisis that sees him travel to another realm, become the host of different bodies, and eventually learn what it means to truly feel the art he wishes to create.

Soul is one for the adults, and is particularly memorable to those who’ve had to accept less than what they once dreamed of doing with their life. A few moments in the so-called afterlife might appeal to children, but even then the Powell and Pressburger-inspired stairway to heaven and abstract artistic choices will hold more depth and meaning to those who consider themselves fellow struggling artists. The biggest compliment to Soul is that it appears to be as close to peak Pixar as any film from 2015 on, encompassing the same richness as early Pixar releases and a host of homages worth looking out for. Perhaps it’s too slow, and it will not suffice as distraction for those too young to understand, but it’s a damned good movie whose position on this list is proof of Pixar’s depth of quality throughout their catalogue.


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12. A Bug’s Life (1998)

Budget: $45million
Box Office: $363.3million
Directors: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Pixar followed their red-hot game-changing debut Toy Story with a move into living creatures, and specifically those so small we hardly even notice them. A Bug’s Life told of Flik, an ant who owed some debt to a big-time gangster grasshopper named Hopper, specifically telling of his adventures from the safety of his colony to the wildlands of travelling bug circuses in an attempt to recruit fellow bugs in the fight against bullies.

Pixar were very much in their “edgy” era at this point (nightmarish early renders of Toy Story seem to have more in common with Sausage Party than what was eventually released), and making a thinly veiled old west/gangster movie seemed right in that wheelhouse. It was never what Toy Story was, perhaps owing to how it didn’t come first and the technology probably wasn’t quite ready for the scale and complexity of what they were attempting, but a few memorable moments and lively characters ensure that this ranks as a good but not unmissable entry into the canon of its studio.


11. Inside Out (2015)

Budget: $175million
Box Office: $857.6million
Director: Pete Docter

Inside Out Review

With Pixar from the very beginning, filmmaker Pete Docter has more than made his mark with the company. Working as a supervising animator and story artist on the first Toy Story movie, even getting himself an “original story” writing credit, Docter would later go on to be at the helm of Pixar classics such as Monsters, Inc., Up, and this entry Inside Out, which follows a young girl named Riley and her five core emotions, Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness, as they struggle to cope with her move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Inside Out is definitely an example of the current era of Pixar filmmaking, an era in which the spirit of old seems to have dissipated. With this, the film can get locked into some of the stereotypical elements we have come to find in recent Pixar films, like the incessant need to have a cute, goofy and somewhat annoying sidekick (just think Dante the dog from Coco or Sox the robotic cat from Lightyear). Thankfully, Inside Out’s take on these otherwise grinding issues is far from damaging, mostly thanks to Pete Docter’s talents for writing loveable and likeable characters. Moreso, the character that could be seen as the cute/goofy/potentially annoying sidekick, Bing Bong, turns out to be a major emotional arc that is deeply moving for adults and children alike.

The ability to take a serious, complicated issues and present them in a way that is digestible for children to not only enjoy but to understand, is what makes Pixar what it is. In tackling themes of mental health, grief, depression, growth and change, Inside Out is an important piece of cinema that should be shown to every child.


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