Pixar Movies: Ranked From Best To Worst

By Doug Norrie | 3 weeks ago

Ranking the best Pixar movies is kind of like ranking all the flavors of ice cream. They are basically all great while some are just the absolute best. If you went into an ice cream shop and said, “Give me your worst ice cream,” you’re still almost definitely walking out with something delicious. 

So it goes with the world’s best movie studio (animated or otherwise). Over the last 25 years, they’ve put out 21 movies that have basically ranged from “Perfect” down to “Mostly Perfect”. Let’s take a look at every Pixar movie ranked, from best to worst. 

1. Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (tied)

Pixar's Best movie
  • Critical Consensus: 100% Positive

Pixar crushed it right out of the gate with Toy Story, the first movie in its pipeline and the defining franchise for the studio. The story of friendship and love resonated with all audience types and set a definitive tone for how Pixar would approach its movies going forward. 

To score 100% on the Tomatometer is no easy feat, doing it back-to-back with the first two (and it should have been 100% on the third as well) is simply astonishing. But they were completely deserving. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the crew rank as some of the more iconic “roles” we’ve seen in animated films and are as much a part of the movie lexicon now as they were 25 (25!) years ago. 

Did we get it right? Are the first two Toy Story movies really the best Pixar movies of all time? Cast your vote…

We ranked every Pixar movie from best to worst. Every Toy Story, every Cars, and everything else. Did we get this right: https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/ent/pixar-movies-ranked.html

Posted by Giant Freakin Robot on Friday, February 7, 2020

2. Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo
  • Critical Consensus: 99% Positive

Finding Nemo has 267 reviews posted on RottenTomatoes and exactly two critics just couldn’t see fit to rate it on the positive side of the scale. I’m not for pulling folks’ critical cards, but this might be one of those cases. Nemo’s wanderlust and desire to escape his ordinary fish life despite being hampered by a lame fin is quintessential Pixar.


3. Up

Pixar's Up
  • Critical Consensus: 98% Positive

Up’s opening sequence showing Ellie and Carle’s life through a series of moments, wordless and only to light piano music ranks as one of the few times that a movie brings tears right out the gate rather than waiting until some culminating event at the end. It’s gorgeous and is really the defining moment of the entire film. If anything, this sequence helped carry an otherwise uneven film, especially in how things shift over the course of the narrative.

But regardless, Up was almost universally praised and with good reason, inspiring a generation of kids to see how many balloons it would take to actually lift them off the ground. 


4. Inside Out

Inside Out
  • Critical Consensus: 98% Positive

If you’re wondering how many of the Pixar movies on this list so far made me cry when I first saw them, this would make it four out of five. All of the Pixar storytelling brilliance is on display here in a movie about how “difficult” it is growing up when your emotions are firing in a thousand different directions.

The personification of Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear (with a little assist from BingBong) represented just what kind of inner turmoil we experience when life gets hard. To me (and a lot of film critics), this is a perfect movie.


5. Toy Story 3

Pixar's best movie
  • Critical Consensus: 98% Positive

Toy Story 3 not finishing with 100% like its predecessors was a miscarriage of critical justice in the form of few troll-y reviews. If anything, this may have been the best in the trilogy (to that point) and offered perfect “endings” for the characters we’d come to know and love.

That the toy crew could find new lives with endless love from another kid as Andy finally “grew up” and moved to college really put the ultimate pin on their stories. I should have been able to group it with the first two at the top of the list, but some critics just couldn’t get on board. 


6. Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4
  • Critical Consensus: 97% Positive

Meanwhile, I thought Toy Story 4 was something of an odd late addition to this franchise. Sure, it still ended up in the pantheon of great Pixar movies and on its own is a great film. It just seemed that the third movie put such a perfect bow on everything that adding another to the vault wasn’t necessary. But in true Pixar fashion, it still fits well into the universe. 


7. The Incredibles

  • Critical Consensus: 97% Positive

The Incredibles was the sixth movie in the Pixar timeline and definitely brought a slightly different, more comedic/ action bent to what they were putting out as a studio.

Imagining what happens to a family of superheroes when they retire and enter normal life put such a great twist on the genre. The story itself is a bit hokey but mattered little because the characters Bob, Helen, Violet and Dash Parr work so well. 


8. Coco

Coco from Pixar
  • Critical Consensus: 97% Positive

Great story? Yup. Gorgeous soundtrack? 100%. Tears at the end? You betcha. Coco’s take on Dios de la Muerte and just death in general is another example of the studio taking deeply emotional themes and distilling them down into a palatable story. It’s almost overlooked just how well the studio does this time and time again. That it also acts as an acute cultural crossover makes it all that much better, enchanted guitar and all. 


9. Monsters Inc.

Pixar's best monster movie
  • Critical Consensus: 96% Positive

The idea of monsters under the bed or coming out of closets at night has been in the forefront of children’s nightmares since, well, as long as kids have had their own bedrooms. So Pixar took that idea and turned those screams into a power source, with Monstropolis literally powered by how much fear Monsters could derive out of unsuspecting young ones at night.

Really, the description sounds like a movie that will more often be bad than good, but this is Pixar and they pulled it off wonderfully. 


10. Ratatouille

Best movie on food
  • Critical Consensus: 96% Positive

I don’t know if the sales for this particular kind of dish spiked in the wake of Pixar releasing the movie, but I’m not afraid to admit I’d never heard of it until Pixar released the film in 2007. The non-appetizing prospect of a rat making food in a restaurant lent itself well to a touching story about following your dreams even if you appear just the wrong fit for a particular type of craft. 


11. Wall-E

Pixar's best space movie
  • Critical Consensus: 95% Positive

Wall-E is almost two totally separate movies. There’s the opening sequence and first third that contains almost no dialogue and instead tells its story mainly through the movements of the titular character. Then, it sections itself off into the final arc where humans are “introduced” as those who f@#$ed up Earth once and for all. It was and remains a bold statement about the state of the world and how things can break down in an irreparable way. 


12. Finding Dory

Pixar spinoff movie
  • Critical Consensus: 94% Positive

We are thirteen movies into this list and we just now dipped down below 95%. This is simply incredible and one of the many, many (many) reasons Pixar is in a class of its own among movie studios, not just animated ones.

In the sequel to Finding Nemo we find Dory on her own mission home replete with escaping a Sea World-type aquatic zoo. It took a side character from another movie and gave her a new hero’s journey, something Pixar hadn’t done up until this point.


13. Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2
  • Critical Consensus: 94% Positive

It took about 14 years for a follow-up story about Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl as they continue to navigate the world of superhero-dom while sticking to the plan of maintaining a strong family unit. Here Elastigirl has become the main super attraction in a new initiative to profit off of superhero stardom. Coming at the expense of Mr. Incredible’s “manhood” this makes for an interesting dynamic that Pixar has mostly avoided in its other movies. Of course, they pulled it off spectacularly. 


14. A Bug’s Life

A Bug's Life
  • Critical Consensus: 92% Positive

Not to be confused with Antz, which came out around the same time (insects were all the rage), A Bug’s Life was the second movie in the Pixar catalog and came out more than three full years after Toy Story. In this day and age, that kind of studio timeline would seem completely nuts.

Flik and company bring us into the world of worker ants and started something of a theme for Pixar of main characters bucking their status quo. In the Pixar lexicon, this movie doesn’t ring out as loud as some others, but it’s great nonetheless. 

15. Monsters University

Monsters U
  • Critical Consensus: 80% Positive

Here’s the part of the list where Pixar does start to “fall off” some. The sequel to Monsters, Inc came out 12 years after the original and didn’t totally live up to expectations. It brought back Mike and Sully, this time in a prequel form telling the story of how they became friends in school and rivals with some of the other Monsters. An interesting take for sure, but this still ranks pretty low on the Pixar list.


16. Brave

Pixar's Brave
  • Critical Consensus: 78% Positive

I’m actually a little surprised Brave is this low on the critical scale but I might have just caught it at the right time seeing as it came out around when my own daughter was starting to watch movies. Merida is the only Pixar character who also exists in Disney’s princess group and though she spends the better part of the movie talking to a bear, it still mostly works.  


17. The Good Dinosaur

Good Dinosaur poster
  • Critical Consensus: 76% Positive

What if that asteroid had just flown by Earth and never knocked the dinosaurs out of existence? Would they have gone on to just live very human-like existences? Probably not, but I suppose this works as something of a thought experiment anyway. The Good Dinosaur would be a movie most animated (or otherwise) studios would kill for and it ranks as one of the “worst” Pixar put out.


18 – 20. The Cars Movies

Pixar's worst movies
  • Critical Consensus On Cars: 75% Positive
  • Critical Consensus on Cars 3: 69% Positive
  • Critical Consensus on Cars 2: 39% Positive

It’s interesting that the three movies in the Cars franchise all rank as the three lowest-rated Pixar movies on the list. Cars 2 is just a downright bad film and a borderline disaster where Pixar is concerned. Lightning McQueen and company just didn’t captivate viewing audience, and specifically, the critics, when it came to story. I very much doubt we see a Cars 4.

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