Blogger Q&A: What Is Your Favorite Pixar Film?
In the Blogger Q&A series, we ask our bloggers to share their opinions on a movie-related question. Got something you want to ask the bloggers? Submit a question on our official Flickchart Facebook page and it could be featured in a future post!
Throughout the past 20 years, 15 feature films and a myriad of whimsical shorts, Pixar Animation Studios has built a reputation for consistent quality that very few other movie studios can match. And only Marvel Studios (also operating under the Disney umbrella) can similarly claim to guarantee an audience by the presence of their studio’s name alone above the title.
Pixar has been around long enough now that multiple generations are coming to enjoy different films in their catalog for different reasons, though their longevity and ability to generate interest for sequels so far apart is astounding: Toy Story 3 came 11 years after Toy Story 2, to massive success; when Finding Dory lands in 2016, it will have been 13 years since the release of Finding Nemo.
It’s a further testament to the studio’s wide appeal that everybody has a different favorite Pixar movie. That’s just as true for our bloggers; when asked which Pixar film was their favorite, everyone had a different response, and they span the studio’s feature history from 1995 to 2015. Check them out:
Toy Story (1995)
When I was about 11, one of my teachers decided to show Toy Story in class. Everyone else was content to just watch the film, but I made it a point to mention every hidden Easter egg within, from the past Pixar short films listed as books in Andy’s room to the Binford tool box in Sid’s den of darkness. I, of course, got in trouble for not shutting up, but the kids around me were genuinely interested in the depth and layers to the first fully CG film we had ever seen. But for me, Toy Story was the first time I realized just how much I could love film. It wasn’t just a movie, it was a seemingly gigantic world created by actual people behind the scenes. I poured over every detail, every person involved and learned everything I could about Buzz, Woody, and the entire gang in Andy’s room. When Toy Story 3 was released and Andy said goodbye to his friends, I felt like I was also leaving behind some of my oldest cinematic friends, ones who I had spent hours with and who could always make me smile. For me, Toy Story isn’t just my favorite Pixar film, or even just one of my favorite films of all time, it’s also the beginning of my interest in the medium of film that continues decades later. – Ross Bonaime
- Global Flickchart Rank: #77
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 16,195
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Most kids movies these days play it pretty safe, but Monsters, Inc. comes right out of the gate with an opening scene designed to scare the crap out of you. A monster enters a child’s room and looms in great, dark shadow over his bed, the child starts upright and screams. It’s legitimately frightening until the moment the lights come on and we find out it’s just a simulation. But until that moment, no sign of anything other than the pure terror of a child facing that monster under the bed. What Monsters, Inc. does is face that terror and show you that most of the things you’re afraid of aren’t really scary (the monsters are actually just normal folk doing their job and ultimately find a new way that doesn’t involve terrorizing children), but that some of them (Randall and Waternoose) are legitimately evil and will actually hurt you – but they can be defeated. This is what classic scary stories have always done, and Pixar updates it with a modern, fast-paced aesthetic, culminating in one of the most inventive and exciting chases in all of animation. In addition to the thrills and laughs, though, Monsters, Inc. also has a lot of heart, with the central relationship trio of Mike, Sully and Boo growing and deepening throughout the film to the point where the ending has real stakes – even if the filmmakers do mitigate the impact a bit with the hint of a joyous reunion, I’m pretty sure anyone who isn’t glad when that smile spreads over Sully’s face has no heart of their own. – Jandy Hardesty
- Global Flickchart Rank: #307
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 11,924
Finding Nemo (2003)
By 2003, we already had four Pixar films to be in love with, so the fact that I was going to see Finding Nemo was never in question. When I finally did, I’m certain my jaw was on the floor throughout its running time. The advancements in the animation itself seemed light-years (no pun intended) ahead of Toy Story or A Bug’s Life. And the underwater world depicted teemed with a life that, I was forced to admit, a traditionally-animated film like The Little Mermaid couldn’t match. And it was funny. And it wore its heart on its sleeve. And sure, the pelican named Nigel was practically the hero of the whole darn movie. This film is Top 5 on my personal Flickchart, and I’ve revisited it at least a dozen times over the intervening dozen years. Yet, rather than becoming wearying, the movie only grows in my estimation each time I see it. Because now, I have three kids, the oldest of whom was born the same year as this favorite among all animated movies. And the tale of Marlin, a tiny fish in the biggest of oceans, resonates ever more profoundly: You want only to shield your children from all harm, but you can’t do it at the expense of letting them live. Let them go, but never let them down. – Nigel Druitt
- Global Flickchart Rank: #262
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 13,340
The Incredibles (2004)
When The Incredibles was first released, it was the first animated film I had thoroughly enjoyed in a long time. I wasn’t really into animated films at the time, especially Disney ones, as I generally regarded them as being for children. But The Incredibles really changed my perspective on them. For one, it’s about superheroes – a great entry point for me. From there, I was drawn in by the premise and world that’s built in the movie. The world has turned its back on superheroes, regarding them now as more of a nuisance and drain on society than protectors of the common good. The existing superheroes had to be hidden away like they were all in witness protection. It was such a unique perspective on superheroes, and opens up possibilities like closeted superheroes stopping crimes as though they were the criminals themselves. The family aspect of The Incredibles is also a huge draw for me – they were able to create such a fun, dynamic and still realistic portrayal of a family, with the added details of them all having superpowers. All the dynamics that typical families have are still there, regardless of the fact that they have super strength or invisibility. The final detail I’ll mention here is the soundtrack. The composer, Michael Giacchino, also contributed to the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot and Abrams’ Mission Impossible III, as well as other Pixar features Ratatouille and Up. Giacchino’s score is equal parts spy adventure and jazz, and it works perfectly in conjunction with the world built in the film. – Jeff Lombardi
- Global Flickchart Rank: #290
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 12,519
Of all the non-sequel Pixar films, Cars is perhaps the most ostracized by critics. Common complaints are that it’s too childish, overly focused on appealing to one demographic, and is keyed at creating merchandise. So it may come as a surprise for someone to say that their favorite Pixar film is Cars. But from the first time I watched Cars, I was hooked. The story of Lightning McQueen, a young upstart racer who’s arrogance manages to eclipse even his own amazing talent, is hardly a new one. He must learn to overcome his inflated attitude and the way he treats people he considers lesser. In doing so, he learns that the greatest victories in life lie off the racetrack. It’s a simple story and yet an effective one. Each of the characters in Cars is memorable, all with their own personality and way of helping Lightning overcome his personality flaws. But what this film does best is capture southern Americana culture. From the great soundtrack showcasing the past and present of the American country sound, to the beautiful rural landscapes of Radiator Springs, and capturing the essence of the slower life and importance of strong moral values, Cars is one of the best Pixar films and sadly gets overlooked. The next time you view Cars consider more closely the spirit the film captures and you’ll find yourself shedding a tear during James Taylor’s “Our Town”. Cars is the perfect American Pixar film. – Connor Adamson
- Global Flickchart Rank: #2561
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 2,666
Ratatouille is director Brad Bird‘s third animated feature, and his most sophisticated. It builds on the oddball charm of The Iron Giant and the emotional complexity of The Incredibles to craft an ambitious film full of both slapstick comedy and serious storytelling. It puts a new spin on a familiar story: A country rat makes his way to the big city (in this case, Paris, France – portrayed with old world charm and much splendor) to seek his fame and fortune. Of course, this isn’t just any rat – it’s a rat with a refined palette and aspirations of haute cuisine. You might not think you would enjoy a movie about a rat in the kitchen, but Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is a charming and clever rat who finds a way to endear himself to the person who needs him most – a dishwasher named Alfredo who can’t cook to save his job. The drama that ensues is captivating and the stunning visuals match the tone of the story with detailed textures and subdued hues that bring out the richness you would expect of a sophisticated French film. Ratatouille is the best kind of movie for kids, which is to say: It’s a great movie for people of any age (that contains nothing objectionable for either kids — or adults). Give it a taste, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself coming back for seconds! – Ben Shoemaker
- Global Flickchart Rank: #669
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 9,581
WALL·E is a movie that exemplifies what makes Pixar stand out in comparison to so many other companies putting out children’s movies these days. When I first saw it, I was blown away by the fact that the first half of the movie contained next to no dialogue. In an era of wisecracking, fast-talking animated sidekicks and dialogue that explicitly spells out every internal motive, here are two characters who speak almost no words at all and spend 40 minutes together communicating in body language, in actions, in single words repeated with varied meanings. And yet we know just as much about their hopes, dreams, personalities, and motivations as we do any other animated film characters – maybe more. In the second half of the movie, there’s more talking, but the story is still smart and uses its human characters well, facilitating the story instead of drowning it in soon-dated pop culture references and winking innuendos, and we still get long, beautiful sections that are entirely wordless. Pixar gives its audiences credit for being smart enough to follow along without explicit instructions, and its animation is sharp enough that every character is tremendously expressive, and it pays off here with a movie that not only charms adults as well as children, but also has no expiration date. The love story of WALL·E and EVE will resonate with audiences long after Lady Gaga jokes stop making them laugh. – Hannah Keefer
- Global Flickchart Rank: #252
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 13,680
Inside Out (2015)
I’m not the kind of person who likes a good cry at the end of a movie, or a book that makes me feel teary-eyed. I like happy endings. I’m not above looking up the ending of a movie to make sure it won’t end sadly before I make the decision to watch it, or peeking at the end of a book. But 2014 was a horrible year. It was bad. There was illness and death in my family. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. The result: pretty much if I didn’t want to watch a movie that made me cry, I probably shouldn’t watch anything. And in a way that was good. I didn’t want to cry about the things I was really upset or worried about. So I cried at romantic comedies. Flash forward to 2015 (which, for the record, has been a much, much better year) and Inside Out. And there’s Joy, wanting everything to be positive, handling every hard time in much the same way I do; trying to look at the positive, trying to keep upbeat. Her eagerness for cheer isn’t portrayed as wrong, or denial, or treated in a condescending manner. It’s literally who she is. But she does need Sadness, who finds tragedy in everything. And (spoiler alert) it’s the combination of both of them, that ultimately helps Riley through her difficulties. I watched Inside Out, and I was reminded of 2014. I was reminded of that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, and I realized that here was a movie that was about me. Here was a movie that was about how I worked. Here was a movie that spoke to me and of me. It is okay to look for joy, but when you need it, it’s okay to find sadness. I watched this movie and I related to it, possibly more than I have ever related to any movie before. I’m still not the kind of person who likes a good cry at the end of a movie. But sometimes it’s going to happen whether I want it to or not. And that’s okay too. – Naomi Laeuchli
- Global Flickchart Rank: #418
- Users who have it in their personal Top 20: 116
Which of Pixar’s films is tops on your Flickchart? Let us know in the comments below!