Right off the top I’ll explain why I’m splitting this list into five and five rather than just doing a Top 10 PIXAR favorites list: there are shorts that I like as much or better than the PIXAR feature films, so while my features list really likely would’ve been closer to “Top 7”, I thought that was silly, so I’m splitting it in half this way.
Now it may seem like film fan blasphemy to only have seven beloved PIXAR films, but the truth is, while I like several more, there are only my main grouping that I truly love and would and do re-watch regularly.
So here is that features list:
5) Monsters, Inc.
- A far more satisfying buddy film for me than the Toy Story films (nothing against them, it’s just that the Monsters films engaged me more). I loved the universe of the monsters, the friendship between Mike and Sulley, the villainy of Randall, the bureaucracy of Roz and the adorableness of Boo. Not to mention the great visuals of the door factory. I thought this was a fun world to experience and I was happy to return to it in the prequel!
- This movie is not what you think it is. It is not about a rat who wants to cook. It’s about dreaming and achieving and not cowering to others’ perceptions of your limitations. The core message of the film is not just “Anyone Can Cook”, but “Anyone Can Do Anything They Dream”. And it’s a foodie film, too. Get beyond your distaste of rats (and critics!) to find your taste for Ratatouille!
- If my top two weren’t so beloved, this could also easily have topped my list. A love story as classic and eternal as Lady & The Tramp or Beauty & The Beast, if you don’t get teary as WALL-E courts EVE, then you may be more of a robot than he is! At its center, yes, it’s about a PC that falls in love with a Mac. Well, okay, no, that’s just the visual of it! But really, it’s a terribly romantic film, wrapped up in an eco-warning that if we don’t clean up after ourselves and stay healthy, we can lose both the planet and our independence. But really, just watch it for one of those beautiful perfect moments in a film – WALL-E’s “dance” with EVE and a fire extinguisher in outer space.
- I can sum my love up (ha!) for this film in one word: Dug. Okay, actually another three words, too: Carl and Ellie. I actually find Russell and Kevin both rather irritating, but I think they were designed that way. Or maybe I should just be shaking my walker and yelling at them to get off my lawn. One or the other. But really, the combination of the adorable character of Dug, with the told-in-just-three-minutes love story of Carl and Ellie make this one of my favorite movies ever. Michael Giacchino’s incredible score also deserves major kudos here as well. Just as the description of “a rat in the kitchen” doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of Ratatouille, neither does “a cranky old man and a kid fly off to South America in a house powered by balloons” do justice to the story of UP. Just watch it. And for the first few minutes, have that Kleenex ready!
- I’m not sure if you have to be a car buff or NASCAR fan to love this film, but I do think being into the nostalgia of Route 66 helps. As much as I think UP is a truly excellent film, nothing PIXAR has made has owned me the way the first Cars film did. I do have a fondness for the history that this film depicts, not to mention a great affection for Tow Mater. And I fell in love with Radiator Springs from the first time I saw it – I didn’t even need to look at it through Sally’s eyes to agree it was a beautiful town. When I first saw it in person at Cars Land in Disney California Adventure, it was literally like stepping into a drawing come to life. And the fact that you can experience a moment right out of the film with the nightly area lighting was just icing on the cake. The second film missed out on some of the charm of the first, but hopefully the third will find its way back. For me, though, the heart of the film was about home and friends and how both can support you and ground you even when you’re out in the world.
That’s my list, but for those who are curious – numbers six and seven would have been The Incredibles and Monsters University respectively.
And here are my favorite PIXAR short films:
- A PIXAR musical? Yes! Sort of! Close enough! This tale of a vain fuzzy lamb, who learns there is more to enjoy in life than how one looks is a delight both to watch and listen to!
- The story of a naughty but determined bunny who serves as an assistant to a mediocre magician has an edgier feel than the typical feel-good PIXAR short, but it makes for a wicked fun adventure!
- The newest PIXAR short was a heart-stealer with its plot of a baby bird taking its first strides into a scary world and learning that fear can be overcome and what frightens us at first may even turn out to be fun!
2) For the Birds
- A simple and perfect depiction of bullying and karma. Hilarious. Heartwarming. This parable of an unpopular and shunned creature just trying to make friends is definitely for more than just the birds!
1) La Luna
- One of the most beautiful short films I’ve ever seen. It was like watching a storybook come to life. Along with Disney Animation’s Paperman, it’s a true work of art with its chronicle of a family of star-sweepers. Just magic.
Would your PIXAR favorites list include any of the above? How about your favorite PIXAR short films?