Ranking the Best & Worst Pixar Movies

How is it that a movie studio that produces kid’s films can be responsible for so many of the best films in cinema?

Twenty years ago, that question would be directed at Disney. Now it’s more likely to refer to Pixar, Studio Ghibli, or even Dreamworks of late. What is it about children’s entertainment that has, time and time again, managed to capture the hearts and minds of adults as much as it has their offspring?

Perhaps it’s a result of these films rekindling our lost sense of childlike wonder and naively adventurous spirit. Perhaps it’s their universally accessible narrative simplicity, always ready to charm away our worries with the awe-inspiring visual splendor through which these tales are so often told.

Whatever the case may be, with thirteen films under their belt, the Pixar formula is one that’s proven itself to leave a lasting impression, transporting us to spectacular, gorgeously rendered and thoughtfully defined worlds — second only to the passionately heartfelt and funny stories of family and friendship embedded within.

What’s more, Pixar is able to achieve this mixture while emboldening children to think for themselves; to challenge the status quo; to recognize their true potential, as well as their limitations. As fun and charming and pretty as Pixar’s films are, it’s the complex ideas and emotions they explore that makes them truly special, affording youths the opportunity to confront the realities of the world around them in a way they can understand and cope with. While everyone else is content to pander to kids, Pixar knows that the best way to communicate with children is to treat them as equals.

But equality is not a trait shared by the current roster of Pixar films. Despite the technical virtuosity on full display with every production, it takes a lot more than stunning animation to make a film great, and that’s not a balance that Pixar always strikes — at least not recently. At one point it may have seemed like the studio could do no wrong, but that was a short-lived romantic notion, and hardly one that merits much deliberation. No, far more instructive would be to scrutinize their missteps in conjunction with their successes, and try to determine what exactly it is that makes any one of their works richer than the other. After all, what better way to understand what makes a story great than to study the best? Read More »

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In the Summer of 1994, while deep in production on their first feature film Toy Story, the key Pixar creatives (including John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft) had a now famous lunch in a diner called Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond. During this lunch meeting they ended up brainstorming the ideas that eventually became the films A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. The story has become mythical, a part of film animation legend and a cornerstone moment in Pixar’s history. It was even featured in the teaser trailer for Andrew Stanton‘s WALL-E.

Sadly, the cafe has closed its doors after over 20 years of service, with unconfirmed reports that it was shut down for rats (Ratatouille anyone?).
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Even as we dive into the heart of the summer movie season, some of the most promising imminent releases could be titles that aren’t new at all. Pixar is re-releasing four of its recent hits — Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Up, and Wall-E — into AMC theaters for four days over Memorial Day weekend, from May 25 through May 28. The films will be be up against the horror Chernobyl Diaries and the sci-fi sequel Men in Black 3. Yeah, given those options, I may just opt to revisit one of the Pixar classics too.

Especially since tickets will be going for as low as $6 each. Considering that regular screenings generally cost twice that in my area, that’s quite the bargain. Further sweetening the deal, each screening will also include a classic Pixar short and a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at Pixar’s next project, Brave. Head to the AMC website for more info on locations, pricing, and showtimes.

And speaking of Brave, hit the jump for details on its world premiere, which will coincide with the debut of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

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Going to big conventions is a lot of fun until a few days later and you hear what you missed. Recently, this happened at Comic Con when I heard what happened at the Lost panel. Speaking of Lost, that show’s composer, Michael Giacchino, apparently had an amazing panel at the D23 Expo. Which we missed. Giacchino’s panel, The Music of Pixar, unfortunately ran up against Disney’s epic movie panel but, thanks to the magic of YouTube, we can now all watch the Oscar-winning composer talk about his inspiration, and music for, the Pixar films The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up and Cars 2. We’ve got the full panel embedded after the jump. Read More »

VOTD: ‘[the films of] Pixar Animation Studios’

For the past seven months, Kees van Dijkhuizen‘s been releasing tribute videos for his yearlong “[the films of]” project, each showcasing the work of a different director via a montage, and we at /Film have been with him since the beginning. For his newest installment, however, van Dijkhuizen chose to go a slightly different route: Rather than select one auteur to focus on, he’s chosen an entire company. Watch “[the films of] Pixar Animation Studios” after the jump.

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VOTD: ‘25 Years of Pixar’

We’ve featured a handful of director montages here on /Film recently, and while this “25 Years of Pixar” compilation isn’t quite that, it’s actually pretty similar. In terms of look, tone, and quality, I’d say Pixar is as consistent as many directors.

For the video, NkMcDonalds pulled scenes from works spanning over decades — from ’80s shorts to this year’s Cars 2. If you like Pixar as much as I do, it’ll definitely make you smile and it might even make you tear up a little tiny bit. Watch it after the jump.

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/Film reader Derek Stettler has compiled a video titled “Reel Wisdom: Lessons from 40 Films in 7 Minutes,” which does just what it claims. Here is more from the editor:

I made this video because I love films and I think there is great wisdom inherent in the film medium. This video represents some of the best wisdom from films, edited together as a single coherent piece of advice on everything from life, death, and purpose, to anger, regret, and destiny. In creating this video, I tried to feature a broad array of films, from action/adventure and sci-fi films, to dramas and traditional/CG animated films in order to show how all genres of film have something important to say.

Watch the video embedded after the jump.

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US Postal Service To Release Pixar Stamps in 2011

The United States Postal Service announced today that they will release a series of Pixar image stamps in 2011.

Based on that success, the Postal Service was eager to work with the Walt Disney Company again, choosing to explore the Disney*Pixar films, which offer exciting, contemporary characters and strong themes involving family and friends. This pane of 20 stamps includes five different designs featuring Pixar characters: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (2006); Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille (2007); Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995); Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (2009); and the robot WALL*E from WALL*E (2008). Since the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was introduced in 2001, all seven Pixar films released since that time have been nominated and five of the seven have won, including Ratatouille, WALL*E and Up.

I’ll need to buy some of these for my rare snail mail usage. The 2011 Disney/Pixar Send a Hello stamps will be released on August 19th 2011.

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