With Toy Story 4 set to hit theatres, we look at the top 15 Pixar movies that have captured the imagination of movie audiences for over 20 years!

By Jonathan Reed

17 June 2019

For over 20 years, Pixar Animation studios have taken audiences into the world thought unthinkable. From the depths of the ocean, the furthest reaches of Space, the mind of an 11-year-old child and to infinity and beyond. Pixar has cemented itself as a unique story-telling machine unlike any in the film Industry.

15. The Good Dinosaur

We’re starting with one of Pixar’s lesser known movies, The Good Dinosaur. Set in an alternate history where the asteroid which caused the extinction of the Dinosaurs missed, the movie tells the story of Arlo, a young Apatosaurus who is swept away in a flash flood, he strives to find his way back home.

The movie wasn’t as successful as Pixar originally hoped and its production was pushed back time and time again after re-writes. The original director Bob Peterson was replaced by Peter Sohn and the original cast was also replaced.

14. Cars

Pixar supremo John Lasseter always had an obsession with cars and in 2006 his obsession thundered onto the big screen with Cars. The movie followed the egotistical young racer of Lightening McQueen who ends up being dumped in the small-town Radiator Springs. Taught the difference between winning and respect by and old-time racing legend Doc Hudson, the movie played on the common storyline of “finding yourself”.

Bringing some seriously impressive voice talents including Owen Wilson and Hollywood legend Paul Newman (in his last movie), Cars was a box office smash. Sadly it didn’t hit a homerun with critics, who weren’t fully enthusiastic about the film.

13. Monsters INC

The fourth movie Pixar made was a something completely new and introduced the world of Monsters to cinemagoers. It took the concept of Sulley and Mike, two monsters employed at the energy-producing Monsters, Inc, which generates power by scaring human children. The monster world believes that children are toxic, and when a small child enters the factory, Sulley and Mike must return her home before it’s too late.

Monsters Inc was a huge hit with both audiences and critics and became the third highest-grossing movie of 2001. The movie won an academy award for Best Original Song.

12. A Bug's Life

The second movie released by Pixar and after the success of Toy Story the animation studios had a lot to prove. They released A Bug’s Life in 1998 after being inspired by the fable ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’. The film involves a misfit any Flik, who is looking for “tough warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers. Instead he recruits a group of bugs who turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

Another box office success, Pixar quickly became embroiled in a public feud with Dreamwork’s Animation due to the production of their similar film Antz. A Bug’s Life received positive reviews from critics, however some did unfavourably compare it to Antz.

11. Brave

In 2012 Pixar took on the feat of bringing the Scottish Highlands to life in their Celtic adventure, Brave. Due to the complex nature of the scenery, the film studios had to completely rewrite their animation systems for the first time in 25 years.

Director Brenda Chapman was inspired by her own relationship with her daughter to tell the story of Merida, a Princess who defies an old aged custom of marrying the champion of the highland games. Chaos ensues as Merida and her family begin to see that tradition isn’t everything.

10. WALL:E

Following WALL:E, a solitary trash compactor robot on a future, uninhabitable, deserted Earth, Pixar’s 9th movie took on the subject of climate pollution. WALL:E is entrusted to clean up garbage to attempt to make Earth habitable again, but after he is visited by a probe sent by the starship Axiom, he quickly falls in love and ends up pursuing EVE across the galaxy.

Directed by Andrew Stanton, the genius behind Finding Nemo, WALL:E took on a unique element compared to previous Pixar movies as barely any dialogue was featured. The film was an instant blockbuster and was considered by fans and critics as the best movie of 2008.

9. Ratatouille

After his hugely successful debut, The Incredibles, Brad Bird returned with the brilliant Ratatouille. The plot follows Remy, a sewer rat, who dreams of becoming a chef and tries to achieve his goal by forming an alliance with a Parisian restaurant’s garbage boy.

Ratatouille was another major hit for Pixar by smashing the box office. It also received critical acclaim and was voted one of the top 100 movies ever made by the BBC.

8. Coco

After what many fans had declared a period of remakes, Pixar came back in 2017 with their Mexican adventure, Coco. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidently transported to the Land Of The Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great grandfather to return him to his family among the living, and to reverse his family’s ban on music.

The movie was celebrated for its all-Latino principal cast and quickly became the 15th highest-grossing animated film ever. It also collected a plethora of awards including an Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe.

7. Toy Story 3

It is arguably Pixar’s most popular series and Toy Story rounded off its story arc with Andy in its third instalment. This time around the toys Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their friends are accidently donated to a day care centre as their owner, Andy, prepares to leave for college. They set out on an adventure to try to get back home before Andy leaves.

Toy Story 3 became the highest-grossing film of 2010 after raking in $1-billion worldwide. Many thought the movie would end the Toy Story series, but this year a fourth movie is set to be released.

6. Up

Arguably Pixar’s most unlikely hero, Up tells the story of an elderly man, Carl Fredrickson and an earnest boy named Russel who, by tying thousands of balloons to his house, sets out to fulfil his dream to see the wilds of South America and complete a promise made to his late wife.

The first Pixar film to be presented in Disney Digital 3-D, UP opened up the Cannes Film Festival becoming the first animated film to do so. Critics fell in love with UP’s emotional opening and cast performances, and now regard it as one of Disney’s classic movies.

5. Toy Story 2

There was much excitement around the sequel to the original Toy Story movie and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In the film, Woody is stolen by a toy collector, prompting Buzz Lightyear and his friends to vow to rescue him, but Woody is tempted by the idea of immortality in a museum.

All of the original cast members returned for the sequel and Toy Story 2 was originally envisioned as a direct-to-video movie. It is only one of a rare few who hold a 100% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. It is considered by critics to be one of the few sequel films superior to the original.

4. Inside Out

Pixar took a leap of faith with their movie Inside Out by venturing inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley. Five personified emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust – try to lead her through life as she and her parents adjust to their new surroundings after moving from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Inside Out was an overwhelming success with both audiences and critics. Praised for its concept, screenplay and subject matter it reaped numerous awards and became a huge box office hit.

3. The Incredibles

Set in an alternate version of the 1960s, the film follows the Parrs, a family of superheroes who hide their powers in accordance with a government mandate, and attempt to live a quiet suburban life. Mr. Incredible’s desire to help people draws the entire family into a confrontation with a vengeful fan-turned-foe and his killer robot.

Another critic success for Pixar, The Incredibles won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, becoming the first animated film to do so. A sequel was released last year, which too became a huge success.

2. Finding Nemo

2003 saw Pixar delve deep underwater with the global hit, Finding Nemo. The movie tells the story of the overprotective clownfish named Marlin who, along with a regal blue tang name Dory, searches for his abducted son Nemo all the way to Sydney Harbour. Along the way, Marlin learns to take risks and comes to terms with Nemo taking care of himself.

Finding Nemo is the best-selling DVD of all time selling over 40 million copies in 2006. A poll conducted by the BBC found Finding Nemo as one of the top 100 greatest motion pictures since 2000.

1. Toy Story

Could we pick any other Pixar movie to take our No.1 spot? Toy Story is where it all started and finally and telling the story of toys coming to life when humans aren’t present was bound to capture intrigue.

Providing the beloved characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and perhaps one of the best movie lines in history: “To infinity… and beyond!” Toy Story became an instant hit with both audiences and critics. The movie paved the way for computer animation and led to a hugely lucrative franchise for both Pixar and Disney.