Disney is giving us a Christmas treat with their Disney+ debut of Pixar's latest "Soul." But, why stop there? Give yourself a proper Pixar binge with our countdown of the animation studio's complete oeuvre.
Dim-witted tow truck sidekick Mater takes the lead in Pixar's 12th, as a convoluted spy plot gets in the way of this sequel that aimed to expand the universe of "Cars." It also left a litany of unanswered questions as to how this universe works. For starters, who or what are the buses and taxis shuttling in a world filled solely of anthromorphic modes of transportation?
Animated / 2011 / G
Synopsis: Racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his tow-truck buddy, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), have had their share of adventures together but nothing like what they experience when they head overseas for the first-ever World Grand Prix. While Lightning has his eye on the road to the championship, Mater takes a detour to international espionage when he meets British master spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).
The Good Dinosaur
Pixar's 16th outing certainly has a lot of heart, but this story of two lone souls in a world where dinos are the ones that evolved into farmers, and humans are the "critters," never really morphed into something more than the sum of its parts.
The Good Dinosaur
Animated / 2015 / PG
Synopsis: Luckily for young Arlo, his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand) and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years ago. When a rainstorm washes poor Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) downriver, he ends up bruised, battered and miles away from home. Good fortune shines on the frightened dino when he meets Spot (Jack Bright), a Neanderthal boy who offers his help and friendship. Together, the unlikely duo embark on an epic adventure to reunite Arlo with his beloved family.
After the box office success of "Cars 2," Pixar went all in on revisiting their popular movies. Here, the monsters from "Monsters, Inc." flash back to school in this prequel that has plenty of funny moments, but still fails to reach the heights and heart of the original.
Animated / 2013 / G
Synopsis: Ever since he was a kid monster, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) has dreamed of becoming a Scarer. To make his dream a reality, he enrolls at Monsters University. During his first semester, he meets Sulley (John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. Sulley and Mike engage in a fierce rivalry that ultimately gets them both kicked out of MU's elite Scare Program. To make things right, Mike and Sulley -- along with a bunch of misfit monsters -- will have to learn to work together.
In a modern fantasy world that left magic behind, two elf brothers embark on a journey to find any remaining wizardry for the chance to spend one more day with their late father. While other Pixar journeys are deeper, there's still enough charm between the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland to keep you entertained. It's still a shame, though, that the Covid pandemic thwarted any hopes for this film's box office success.
Animated / 2020 / PG
Synopsis: Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father. Like any good adventure, their journey is filled with cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. But when dear Mom finds out her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary manticore to bring her beloved boys back home.
Parr family matriarch Helen/Elastigirl takes the lead in this much-anticipated follow-up to Pixar's 2004 superhero hit "The Incredibles." Instead of carrying the story forward, the sequel finds the super Parr family back at square-one, as the supers are still hoping to regain public trust, and the family struggles once again as one member (Helen this time) goes off on superheroic adventures. In spite of its narrative flaws, "Incredibles 2" does stand as Pixar's highest grossing movie to date.
Animated / 2018 / PG
Synopsis: Telecommunications guru Winston Deavor enlists Elastigirl to fight crime and make the public fall in love with superheroes once again. That leaves Mr. Incredible with one of his greatest challenges ever -- staying home and taking care of three rambunctious children. As Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack offer him a new set of headaches, a cybercriminal named Screenslaver launches his dastardly plan -- hypnotizing the world through computer screens.
After the globetrotting spy adventure from "Cars 2," Pixar's octane-charged threequel takes a U-turn with this more grounded sports drama. Red racer Lightning McQueen seems past his prime here as he struggles to stay relevant in a racing world with growing technological advancements. Just as McQueen becomes a reluctant mentor to newcomer Cruz Ramirez, "Cars 3" properly pays homage to McQueen's own reluctant mentor Doc Hudson (and, in turn, the late Paul Newman, who voiced the race car in the 2006 original).
Animated / 2017 / G
Synopsis: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars, the legendary Lighting McQueen finds himself pushed out of the sport that he loves. Hoping to get back in the game, he turns to Cruz Ramirez, an eager young technician who has her own plans for winning. With inspiration from the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns, No. 95 prepares to compete on Piston Cup Racing's biggest stage.
While the sequel to "Finding Nemo" might seem like a cash-grab (and maybe it is in some ways), the story actually came to director/writer Andrew Stanton somewhat organically after watching an anniversary screening of the first film. Who is Dory and where is she from? These questions are answered in this sequel that properly builds on the first, and whose title works in both a literal and metaphorical sense.
Animated / 2016 / PG
Synopsis: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents as a child. With help from her friends Nemo and Marlin, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save mom and dad from captivity.
The original "Cars" gets lots of flack. It also doesn't help that the story is largely a rip on the 1991 Michael J. Fox rom-com, "Doc Hollywood." But, for all its faults, it's still quite an endearing story about the need to slow down and embrace life, as race car Lightning McQueen gets his kicks back on Route 66. Not to mention the film's earwormy cover of "Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts.
Animated / 2006 / G
Synopsis: While traveling to California to race against The King (Richard Petty) and Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) for the Piston Cup Championship, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) becomes lost after falling out of his trailer in a run down town called Radiator Springs. While there he slowly befriends the town's odd residents, including Sally (Bonnie Hunt), Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). When it comes time for him to leave to championship is no longer his top priority.
Pixar's 13th outing gave Disney its 11th princess (who was later playfully roasted in "Ralph Breaks the Internet"). "Brave" is also notable for a few firsts: the first Pixar film with a female protagonist, the first Pixar fairy tale, and the first Pixar film from a female director (even if director Brenda Chapman was replaced mid-shoot with Mark Andrews). While the story itself is not as groundbreaking as the rest of Pixar's peak, the film still continues to be warmly embraced by its target audience: kids.
Animated / 2012 / PG
Synopsis: Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the impetuous but courageous daughter of Scottish King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), is a skilled archer who wants to carve out her own path in life. Her defiance of an age-old tradition angers the Highland lords and leads to chaos in the kingdom. Merida seeks help from an eccentric witch (Julie Walters), who grants her an ill-fated wish. Now, Merida must discover the true meaning of courage and undo a beastly curse before it's too late.
Toy Story 4
"Toy Story 3" was a hard-hitting, emotional conclusion to a franchise that Millenial kids grew up loving, and featured a wonderful passing of the torch, from the now college-age toy owner Andy to pre-K scamp Bonnie. But, there is always more to tell. This fourth outing proves its worth as a fitting epilogue, giving an equally emotional goodbye to the franchise's main protagonist Woody.
Toy Story 4
Animated / 2019 / G
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody's slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they're worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.
If the film's title is enough to make your mouth water, maybe you should think again when you realize who -- or what -- exactly made the titular French dish. Pixar deserves a lot of credit for making a rat just as lovable as Disney's more famous rodent mascot.
Animated / 2007 / G
Synopsis: Remy (Patton Oswalt), a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to become a chef so he can create and enjoy culinary masterpieces to his heart's delight. The only problem is, Remy is a rat. When he winds up in the sewer beneath one of Paris' finest restaurants, the rodent gourmet finds himself ideally placed to realize his dream.
A Bug's Life
Pixar's second is an unfairly forgotten journey into the world of bugs and insects. It's also a playful take on the premises of "The Magnificent Seven" and "Three Amigos," as a group of circus bugs are mistaken for warriors and are called upon to protect an ant colony from a group of marauding grasshoppers. Comparisons can be made to DreamWork's similarly bug-focused "Antz," which came out at around the same time, but clearly Pixar's charm wins here.
A Bug's Life
Animated / 1998 / G
Synopsis: Flik (Dave Foley) is an inventive ant who's always messing things up for his colony. His latest mishap was destroying the food stores that were supposed to be used to pay off grasshopper Hopper (Kevin Spacey). Now the strong-arming insect is demanding that the ants gather double the food -- or face annihilation. To avert disaster, Flik goes on a journey to recruit fighters to defend the colony. When he meets a band of high-flying circus insects, he thinks he's found his salvation.
Just as "Soul" will take us on an existential journey into what makes us human, so too did Pixar dive into our minds with "Inside Out." The studio's knack for delivering tear-jerking moments is on full display too (#RememberBingBong) as 11-year-old Riley's life is uprooted when dad moves the family across the country to San Francisco. Emotions literally get the best of her through wonderful performances by comedians Amy Pohler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Lewis Black (Anger), Bill Hader (Fear), and Mindy Kaling (Disgust). "Inside Out" went on to become the second highest grossing animated film of 2015, and won the Oscar that year for Best Animated Feature.
Animated / 2015 / PG
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions -- led by Joy (Amy Poehler) -- try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness (Phyllis Smith) to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley's mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.
Toy Story 2
Pixar's first sequel had a tough act to follow, but everything clicked into place. Following on from 1995's ground-breaking "Toy Story," we find Andy's toys on a rescue mission to save Woody before he's shipped off to a Japanese museum. We also learn more of Woody's backstory, who is a toy-tie-in to a popular '50s kids Western. And, we are introduced to Woody's fellow sidekicks, the spunky cowgirl Jessie and the trusting steed Bullseye. With Pixar announcing a Buzz Lightyear origin story due for 2022, we hope that maybe they will also dive into the archives and give us the compete "Woody's Roundup" series for Disney+.
Toy Story 2
Animated / 1999 / G
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), leaving Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang to try to rescue him. But when Woody discovers that he's actually a valuable collectible from a once-popular television show called "Woody's Roundup" and is reunited with his horse Bullseye, Jessie the yodeling cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and his faithful sidekick, Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer), he doesn't want to leave.
Don't be afraid of things that go bump in the night, especially if those sounds emanating from your closet are the lovable monsters from "Monsters, Inc." Pixar's fourth actually owes a bit of debt to their first, as inspiration drew from what other things besides toys coming to life do kids believe? Monsters! "Monsters, Inc." is another visual feast that works for people of all ages. The film's commercial and critical success led it to being nominated for Best Animated Film in the first year the Oscars introduced the category -- though it lost to "Shrek." The prequel we previously covered was inevitable, and its story will continue next year in a Disney+ series that serves as a direct follow-up, with Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprising their respective lead roles as one-eyed Mike and big and hairy Sully.
Animated / 2001
Synopsis: Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is one of its top scarers. Sullivan is a huge, intimidating monster with blue fur, large purple spots and horns. His scare assistant, best friend and roommate is Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a green, opinionated, feisty little one-eyed monster. Visiting from the human world is Boo (Mary Gibbs), a tiny girl who goes where no human has ever gone before.
Toy Story 3
Disney and the Best Animated Film category have since become synonymous, but "Toy Story 3" is one of only three animated movies to be nominated for Best Picture. The other two are also Disney films: "Up" (which we will soon cover), and "Beauty and the Beast." Debuting more than 10 years after "Toy Story 2," the threequel had a lot going against it. But, Pixar produced an extraordinary follow-up, and an effective conclusion to the saga of Andy's toys. Disney should learn a lot from "Toy Story 3." The film doesn't lean too heavy into fan service, and even works as its own self-contained story that introduces new characters in a very meaningful way -- and this is what made it work so well. "Toy Story 3" knows its audience and doesn't pander to the people that grew up with the franchise, while still opening the door to a new generation of kids who will come to love these toys just as much as Andy did.
Toy Story 3
Animated / 2010 / G
Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the toys find themselves headed for the attic but mistakenly wind up on the curb with the trash. Woody's quick thinking saves the gang, but all but Woody end up being donated to a day-care center. Unfortunately, the uncontrollable kids do not play nice, so Woody and the gang make plans for a great escape.
The incredible feat of "The Incredibles" is just how ahead of its time it really was. Pixar's sixth outing debuted in 2004 - four years after Fox's "X-Men," two years after Sony's "Spider-Man," and just one year shy of WB's even more groundbreaking "Batman Begins." The cinematic superhero renaissance was in its infancy, and Pixar was right there in the beginning with this kid-friendly, lighthearted, unofficial homage of sorts to Alan Moore's "Watchmen" and Marvel's "Fantastic Four." In a story fitting for young and older audiences, superheroes are underground in an alternate 1960s, as the super Parr family make their way through the doldrums of life, hiding their powers due to government mandates. The film then plays on the motifs of middle-age crisis, as Parr patriarch Bob/Mr. Incredible finds a way to get back into action.
Animated / 2004 / PG
Synopsis: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to assume mundane lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all super-powered activities have been banned by the government. While Mr. Incredible loves his wife and kids, he longs to return to a life of adventure, and he gets a chance when summoned to an island to battle an out-of-control robot. Soon, Mr. Incredible is in trouble, and it's up to his family to save him.
Mexican holiday Day of the Dead comes to vivid life in Pixar's 19th. The film follows a young boy who travels into the Land of the Dead to learn more about his family's history. Even though the film was conceived by Americans, great pains were taken to make it feel as authentic as possible, though it was not without its controversies. "Coco" still remains remarkable, being the first big budget animated film with an all-Latin cast. It's a loving tribute to Mexican culture and traditions, and its personal journey was universal enough to leave both critics and audiences deeply affected. The film went on to win two Oscars for Best Animated Feature, and Best Original Song ("Remember Me").
Music / 2017 / PG
Synopsis: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.
Speaking of personal, yet universal journeys, Pixar's fifth is a story that everyone can relate to as we all have experienced some kind of loss. The journey of "Finding Nemo" is not just of father Marlin searching for his lost son Nemo. It's also a journey within Marlin himself, who is still struggling with the loss of his wife and all his other eggs at the hands -- er, fins -- of a barracuda. This loss affects his parenting, which in turn becomes the root cause for Nemo to get lost in the first place. Yes, this is a story about fish, but it's also a universal story that surprised parents just as much as kids upon release. The nuggets of "Finding Nemo" came to creator Andrew Stanton not just on trips to aquariums (and even the dentist), where he thought how great it would be to animate these worlds, but also on a trip to the park with his son, where, like Marlin (and all parents for that matter), he found he was being too overprotective, and thus ruining what should have been a day of love and bonding.
Animated / 2003 / G
Synopsis: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) -- who has a really short memory -- joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist's fish tank.
Pixar's ninth is pretty prescient as we follow a garbage-collecting robot from a desolate Earth up to the stars. To perfectly set the mood, and introduce us to our robotic protagonist, "WALL-E" opens with nary a line of dialogue for roughly 30 minutes. To get this to work just right, creators Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter leaned heavily on classic silent films, specifically the works of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The story itself gives us a worrisome view of our future, as man's overindulgent reliance on big box stores produces an Earth devoid of all its natural resources. The humans then seek refuge on an extravagant cruise aboard a starship, where their need to do things are all taken care of by robots. "WALL-E" is also notable for being one of the very few, if not only, Pixar movies that include live action, both with clips of 1969 musical "Hello, Dolly!" and the late Fred Willard as Buy-n-Large CEO Shelby Forthright. "WALL-E'' floored audiences and critics upon release, and unsurprisingly won Best Animated Feature that year. It continues to be named as one of the great movies of the 21st Century.
Animated / 2008 / G
Synopsis: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, WALL-E has developed a personality, and he's more than a little lonely. Then he spots EVE (Elissa Knight), a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission. Smitten WALL-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy.
We covered Pixar's knack for producing silent, tear-jerker moments, but the studio wouldn't become known for this until their 10th picture, "Up." The film's marketing leaned heavily on its sense of adventure and the buddy comedy moments from grumpy elder Carl, young Wilderness Explorer Russell, and golden retriever Dug, whose collar allows him to talk. So, when audiences finally got a chance to sit down and watch the pic, they were left stunned at the heartbreakingly sweet and sorrowful backstory that sets up the movie and the character of Carl. It's the perfect intro. for what would turn into a wacky adventure as Carl attaches balloons to his house to fulfill a promise to his late wife to finally find the legendary Paradise Falls. As mentioned previously, "Up" went on to be the second of three animated films to be nominated for Best Picture, but it would ultimately win for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. While Pixar has rarely returned to the world of "Up," just recently they announced an upcoming series for Disney+, "Dug Days," that will premiere late next year focusing on the relationship between Dug and Carl.
Animated / 2009 / PG
Synopsis: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl's worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house.
"Toy Story" is the film that started it all. Not just for the studio, but for CG-animation as a whole. Without "Toy Story," we would not have "Shrek" or "Ice Age" or "Despicable Me." With computer animation in its infancy in 1995, Pixar took a big risk to create a feature-length, CG-animated movie. Luckily in their court would be actors Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (who would voice protagonists Woody and Buzz, respectively), and Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "Toy Story" worked not just because of it being the first, but because of the close bonds between all the characters that we all can relate to -- summed up perfectly in Randy Newman's Oscar-winning song, "You've Got a Friend in Me." The story was universal for kids and adults of all ages. After all, what kid doesn't believe that their toys come to life when they are not looking?
Animated / 1995 / G
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position as Andy's favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he's a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy's family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbor Sid Phillips (Erik von Detten) and reunite with their boy.