Matt’s Top 5 Pixar Films

Written by Matt Butler September 11, 2015

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If you know me, then you know I make it no secret about my intense affection for Pixar. My guess is, everyone, to some degree, has a fondness for Pixar. Much like Disney, it has rooted itself deep in our consciousness and nostalgia. It sets the bar for animation and storytelling that even Disney keeps straining to reach. Even still, I can admit that Pixar isn’t perfect, but we’re not here to talk about Cars 2. We’re here to focus on Pixar’s greatest hits, or rather, what I consider to be their greatest hits.

Keep in mind, this is all opinion-based, so none of it is inherently true, while at the same time, none of it is inherently wrong. If this is a groundbreaking concept to you, welcome to the internet!

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5) Up (Pete Docter, 2009)

I’ll admit, when I first saw Up, it didn’t leave much of an impression. Yes, the first 12 minutes were heart-shattering, but I couldn’t remember much of the movie as a whole. After a second viewing, and some much-needed maturing, I’ve come to appreciate Up alot more, largely for its remarkable balancing of tones. A staple of every good Pixar film, Up is simultaneously an adventure, comedy and drama (an adventurous dramedy, if you will). Each is delivered in equal measure, making this an experience fit for everyone. On top of that, it’s just so gorgeous to look at. It almost makes me want to walk out of my deep dark basement and go on my own adventure in the wilds of South America. Almost…

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4) Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995)

Thanksgiving Weekend, 1995. Toy Story shatters box office records, and the world of animation is changed forever.

 Figured this one needed an epic intro. Pixar’s first feature deserves all the credit it’s already earned since its release 20 years ago -God I’m old- and more. Animation wise, it was a smart move to put toys as the leading players, what with Pixar’s plasticky texturing (the toys, ironically, look more human than the human characters). But the crowning achievement of Toy Story is… well… the story! You can’t quite predict where the story will go, and by some miracle, it goes everywhere. We know Woody and Buzz will set aside their differences eventually, but the road to that resolution is long, twisted and most important of all, fun. While animation has indubitably improved since Toy Story, we can all recognize the high standard of storytelling that Pixar set for itself, and everyone else, all in its first go. 

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3) WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

Fun Fact: Director Andrew Stanton made WALL-E with the goal of essentially creating “R2-D2: The Movie”.

It all makes sense now.

WALL-E is probably the most adorable story about the fall of the human species. Made with minimal dialogue, WALL-E relies predominantly on visual storytelling (a quality I’d like to see much more of in this visual medium we call ‘moving pictures’).There’s a certain level of respect when the film shows you information rather than telling it to you. WALL-E himself is someone I can always get behind: an amiable geek with a passion for nostalgia. At its core is an affectionate dorkiness that hits home for anyone who’s ever been lost in their own world of trinkets and times long forgotten. Following in the steps of Toy Story, it brings the non-human characters closer to human nature than we ever thought possible, and delivers one of the most powerful love stories put to film.

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2) Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich, 1999)

Not-so-Fun Fact: A year before its release, Pixar looked at what they had for Toy Story 2. They weren’t happy. The story was predictable, uninteresting and devoid of tension. While Disney execs dismissed their concerns with “It’s only a sequel”, Pixar refused to shelve out something they felt was mediocre. The film would proceed to be rewritten, retooled, and redone almost entirely, all in the span of eight months. 

That alone grants some sort of prize for human endurance.

Toy Story 2 proved to be everything Pixar set out to make, and everything we, as an audience, were surprised to see: a sequel that outdoes the original. Toy Story 2 takes everything perfect about Toy Story and skyrockets it to infinity and beyond. The story, the characters, the animation, the scale of it all, everything is amped up this time around, in a film that expands upon old territory while exploring new grounds.

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1) Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)

You might be surprised to hear that I think Pixar’s most emotionally developed film is NOT Inside Out (though we’ll talk about that one later, I promise), but rather a film about fish. Finding Nemo resonates so deeply with me on an emotional level that it’s therapeutic to watch. It has a deep insight regarding the dangers of the unknown that every child, parent, and 20-something-year old can immediately relate to: The world may be big and scary, but it’s awfully exciting. Remarkably through an episodic plot structure, Finding Nemo brings full waves of action, excitement and drama, scene through scene. No matter what area of the ocean we’re in, there’s a purpose behind every piece of the adventure, which culminates in a perfect full-circle resolution. At times, I even forget this is a movie about fish, it’s that real, guys! What else can I say, Finding Nemo is… deep. (sorry, not sorry)

I hope you enjoyed this trip down Nostalgia Lane. Let me know in the comments what you thought, and tell me your favourite Pixar movies. I promise I won’t judge you. Though if Cars 2 is on that list, I will raise an eyebrow.

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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  1. Also at the front entrance is a glass trophy case housing all the awards that the studio has won. The large walls of the atrium are home to giant mattes made up of concept art from Pixar films, usually from whichever flick the studio is currently promoting. While we were there, gorgeous images from

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