Pixar has set itself apart from other film studios as the only one that can seamlessly blend children’s entertainment with mature themes and intricate character development. The studio became its own company in 1986, and has amassed 16 Academy Awards over the course of 18 animated films.
All 18 of its movie have debuted with overall CinemaScore ratings of “A-” or above, which is unprecedented when it comes to a single company’s film catalogue. Pixar has always been a company that strived to push the envelope with every new story they brought to the big screen, and it seems to have no plans for stopping anytime soon. The studio has told stories about cars, bugs, robots, toys, superheroes, monsters, and so much more, and there seems to be no ceiling to the creative opportunities available.
Only time will tell if the company will be able to keep up this impressive streak in the future. It seems all but inevitable with the incredible-looking Coco on the horizon, Brad Bird’s long-awaited follow-up to The Incredibles coming soon after, and Toy Story 4 being just on the horizon. So without further ado, here is Every Pixar Movie, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes.
18. Cars 2 – 39%
Cars 2 seems to be universally considered the worst Pixar film of them all, as it’s the only unwatchable movie of the bunch. Cars 2 brings back Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, but the film focuses on Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) instead, and sees him becoming a secret agent car. You would be excused in thinking that this plot seems too ridiculous even for Pixar.
Mmst of the time Pixar can reign in the tone and characters enough to ground even the most ridiculous of plots, but Cars 2 is where the studio truly missed the mark. Pixar strongly defends the decision to make Cars 2 the way it did even today. Director John Lasseter stated that he was very proud of the finished product, and made sure to mention that the film earned an “A-“ score from audiences.
17. Cars 3 – 66%
The newest film from Pixar and the final film in its second trilogy, Cars 3 seems to actually be quite the hit with critics. Many of them stated that this was the only Cars film actually worthy of the “Pixar brand,” and that its heartwarming characters were enough to put it over the original film for many of the reviewers.
It seems that many critic’s distaste for the original film stemmed from the involvement of Tow Mater, who they saw as more of a nuisance than an actual well rounded character. Though Mater seemed to be quite the fan-favorite, the newest Cars adventure seemed to focus on Lightning’s attempt to enter the spotlight once again and reclaim his former glory. The film is a redemption story and an acceptance story that seems to be hitting with audiences once again.
16. Cars – 74%
It definitely seems like the Cars films weren’t especially loved by critics, as all three of them round out the bottom of this list. The original Cars story was quite the wonderful film with a great blend of humor and deep characterization that many believed made it worthy to stand with Pixar’s other animated stories.
The story followed a hotshot car that had nowhere to go but up, but was constantly held back due to his cocky demeanor and his yearning to work alone. He then finds out the importance of having other vehicles around who love him when he is stranded in a forgotten town along Route 66. The film also proved to be Pixar’s biggest monetary hit, as it stands today as the film with the largest amount of money garnered from toy sales.
15. The Good Dinosaur – 77%
The Good Dinosaur is the 2015 comedy-drama adventure directed by first-time director Peter Sohn. It stands today as Pixar’s lowest grossing film, making $332 million worldwide. The film was originally announced to be released on November 27, 2013, but was later pushed back multiple times until it was finally released in 2015. The film was suffering from massive story problems, which kept Pixar from releasing it (where were they on Cars 2).
In 2014, actor John Lithgow, who was originally supposed to be in the film, spoke out about the constantly shifting release dates, saying that the film had basically been completely rebuilt, from the ground up. Eventually the cast was revised, and Lucas Neff, Lithgow, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, and Bill Hader all left the project.
14. Monsters University – 78%
The film that proved that Pixar could make great sequels that weren’t just based around toys, Monsters University was released on June 21st, 2013. The cast from the original all returned for the sequel, which explored all of our favorite Monsters before they became professional Scarers. The film delves into the early friendship between both Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan, as the film shows that they began as stark rivals who soon found common connection in their desire to scare any and all children.
It certainly wasn’t as groundbreaking as the original Monsters Inc. film, but the film proved to be fun and exciting, and further explored the characters we had come to know and love. There are some obvious homages to Revenge of the Nerds, and the setting for the University was inspired by many real-life campuses.
13. Brave – 78%
Another entry in Pixar’s longstanding tradition of creating wonderful and original animated projects, Brave proved to be a wonderful journey about a confident, badass, and capable female archer/princess. The film explores magic for the first time in a Pixar film, but it focuses on the importance of family, and with choosing ones own destiny.
Director Brenda Chapman became Pixar’s first feature-length female director, and she drew inspiration for the story from her relationship with her own daughter. The film won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
Even though it has received some of the most prestigious awards in Hollywood, it’s still one of the most divisive films in Pixar’s film stable, although it definitely deserves the awards it received. It’s a special, visually stunning film that shows off all of Pixar’s greatest known strengths.
12. A Bug’s Life – 92%
Surprisingly, A Bug’s Life, though a cherished animated classic, comes in pretty low on the Rotten Tomatoes rankings. Another surprising note is that Pixar currently doesn’t have a film that falls within the 80-89% range. A Bug’s Life was a substantial step forward for the Pixar Studio.
Coming off the success of Toy Story, the entire studio was worried that lightning wasn’t going to strike twice. They were also worried about the trouble they could face with getting kids to sympathize and fall in love with bugs, which generally creep people out. It turned out to be a massive commercial success, and it received quite a bit of love from reviewers, who commended its smart story, witty dialogue, and wonderful characters. However, some others unfavorably compared it to another bug based adventure, Antz.
11. Finding Dory – 94%
Finding Dory is the sequel to the amazing Finding Nemo, and it completely retreaded the plot of the original, put the emphasis on an incredible supporting character, and saw Pixar give up its pursuit of artfully crafted content for a sequel that felt exactly like its predecessor. But it did manage to tell a fun adventure with the amazing characters we loved, and provided kids with yet another heartwarming adventure that taught them the important lessons that Pixar is constantly known for.
The film also set numerous records, including becoming the highest-grossing animated feature film opening of all time in North America. It ended up grossing over $1 billion worldwide, becoming the second Pixar film to reach this milestone after 2010’s Toy Story 3.
10. Ratatouille – 96%
Ratatouille is easily one of Pixar’s most inventive films, featuring a lovingly crafted cuisine-loving rodent protagonist voiced by the incomparable Patton Oswalt. The film was released on June 29th, 2007, and was directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant). He and the rest of his creative team even visited Paris in 2005 for inspiration. They consulted with chefs from both the United States and France, and Brad Bird went as far as to intern at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry restaurant, and he even ended up using Keller’s dish in the film, the confit byaldi. The film received universal acclaim and even went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, among a cavalcade of numerous other accolades. The story was originally conceived by Jan Pinkava, who came up with the core story and the characters.
9. Wall-E – 96%
Wall-E is a wonderful film built completely around a protagonist that can only say his name. The film is seeped in symbolism, and it dives into the importance of environmental protection, the basic ideals surrounding consumerism, corporatism, and the significance of personal health. It’s also a surface-level story about love and bravery, and for standing up for the things that are precious to you.
The film was an instant blockbuster that made $533.3 million worldwide, and it received overwhelming love from critics. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and also won several other coveted awards, and went on to top Time Magazine’s “Best Movies of the Decade.”
8. Monsters Inc. – 96%
The very first time we were introduced to the beloved characters we would later see in Monsters University was in the overwhelmingly acclaimed Monsters Inc.
The film takes place in the fictional (of course) city of Monstropolis, where the entire city, and the world surrounding it is powered by human screams, specifically from children. The film features the voiced of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, and Jennifer Tilly. The film was directed by first-time director Pete Docter, who began developing the film in 1996.
Apparently the characters featured in the end product were vastly different from the ones that Docter originally created, and the filmmaking team went through many hurdles to find ways to realistically render fur and cloth for the film.
7. The Incredibles – 97%
Brad Bird’s 2004 film is considered one of the greatest (if not the greatest) superhero film of all time, and it centers around a family of superheroes who are forced to hide their superpowers, and live a suburban life. Bird was actually Pixar’s first outside director, and he began developing the film out of a need to bring the 1960 comic book and spy films from his childhood to life in his animated feature. He brought most of his creative team over from his critically acclaimed first feature, The Iron Giant, and the team had to find new ways to animate an all-human cast, which required brand new technological advancements.
6. Inside Out – 98%
Pixar’s 2015 comedy-drama adventure, Inside Out, was directed by Monsters Inc. director, Pete Docter, and starred voice-work from Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader. The film is set within the mind of a young girl, Riley, where five personified emotions are controlling her entire emotional state. +
Docter originally began planning the film in 2009, after he noticed some substantial changes happening to his daughter as she grew older. The filmmakers consulted with numerous psychologists, including Dacher Keltner, from the University of California. She helped to emphasize some of the neuropsychological findings that human emotionality can have on interpersonal relationships that surround an individual.
5. Up – 98%
Up is considered one of Pixar’s most impressive feats of storytelling yet, as it deals with the immediate effects of personal tragedy and with the importance of relationships. The film centers around an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and a young wilderness explorer named Russell. Carl ends up tying thousands of balloons to his home, in order to lift it off the ground, and to steer it to South America, in order to complete a promise that he had made to his late wife. Of course, Russell ends up getting caught on the deck of the home, and he winds up coming along for the ride, and the two experience some pretty unbelievable scenarios along the way.
4. Finding Nemo – 99%
Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s most beautiful and beloved films, it was written and directed by Andrew Stanton, and featured the voice talents of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, and Willem Dafoe. The film was released on May 30th, 2003, and has only grown more and more popular since.
The film ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and became the highest-grossing animated film when it was released, and the overall second highest-grossing film of 2003. Finding Nemo also has the honor of being the single best-selling DVD title of all time, with over 40 million copies sold as of 2006. In 2008, the American Film Institute even named it the 10th greatest animated film ever, when they crafted their Top 10, Top 10 list.
3. Toy Story 3 – 99%
Unsurprisingly, the top three films on this list are all from the exact same franchise, and it is also the single greatest animated trilogy ever made. Toy Story 3 was believed by many to be the perfect ending to such a universally beloved property, and it was actually heartbreaking for some when Pixar announced it would be further extending the property with a fourth entry.
Toy Story 3 saw our favorite young toy-owner Andy pass the torch (and his toys) along to a new generation, in the form of young girl, Bonnie. The film features an impeccable ensemble voice-cast featuring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, and Timothy Dalton.
2. Toy Story 2 – 100%
The incredible sequel to Pixar’s most beloved film, 1999’s Toy Story 2 was directed by John Lasseter, and featured all of our fan-favorite characters, while introducing some new beloved faces in both Jessie and Bullseye.
Disney actually originally envisioned Toy Story 2 as a direct-to-video sequel, and the films production began in a new separate Pixar building, while the core Pixar team was busy at work on A Bug’s Life. When the story reels proved more promising than expected, Disney bumped the project up to a theatrical release, while Pixar was actually relatively unhappy with what they were seeing.
Lasseter and his production team actually redeveloped the entire plot of the film in a single weekend. Even though most of their films take years to develop, the team was pressed for time because of the static release date provided by Disney.
1. Toy Story – 100%
Pixar’s very first feature film, 1995’s Toy Story was directed by John Lasseter, and it helped Pixar to explode onto the scene, and it announced to the world that animated features deserved the same critical recognition as live-action films.
Pixar, which originally started by producing short animated films to promote its line of computers, was finally approached by Disney to produce their first computer-animated adventure after the success of their very first short film, Tin Toy.
Lasseter, Docter, and Stanton had to scrap their initial story because Disney wanted the film to be far edgier, but Pixar eventually decided to finance the film itself, and to rebuild the story in their own unique vision. Toy Story was eventually inducted into the National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2005, its very first year of eligibility.
So there you have it, every single Pixar film ranked in order of Rotten Tomatoes score. What are some of your favorites from this list? Make sure to sound off in the comments below, to let us know!
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