For more than 25 years, Pixar has been gifting us with some incredible computer-animated films, beginning with family favourite Toy Story in 1995, right through to Soul, which debuted on streaming service Disney+ at the end of December.
Soul has already had the thumbs up from both critics and viewers, who have praised its unique premise and oh-so-Pixar emotional moments.
Inspired by the film’s success, we’ve taken a look back over all 23 of Pixar’s film releases, and ranked them from worst to best. Starting with...
23. The Good Dinosaur
Falling straight to the lowest spot on our Pixar ranking is The Good Dinosaur.
Why did this 2015 family adventure end up at the bottom of the pile, you ask? Well, for the simple reason we actually have no recollection of this film ever existing, in all honesty. Moving on...
22. Cars 2
Of all of Pixar’s franchises, we think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone outside of the nine-year-old age bracket who counts Cars as their favourite.
To date, three Cars films have been released, and we’d say Cars 2 was the weakest of the series (it is, in fact, the production company’s only film with a “rotten” score on ratings site Rotten Tomatoes, which says a lot).
We touched on this above, but where Pixar really succeeds is the way they tell stories that are obviously hugely enjoyable for children, but that viewers of any age can really relate to and get something out of.
Cars, probably more than any of the other films on the Pixar roster, feels like it’s catering specifically to kids, which is where it loses us a little bit, and that’s why the films have ranked so low on this list.
20. Cars 3
The third in the Cars series did little to change anyone’s (OK, our) mind about Pixar’s most often-maligned trilogy, but at least it was an improvement on its predecessors, helped in no small part by new additions to the cast, and a much more emotionally satisfying story.
19. Monsters University
A rare miss for Pixar, our biggest criticism of Monsters University is just how low on memorable gags it was. It feels like Monsters University would probably have been an enjoyable short, but we’re not sure it needed to be an entire film.
Still, young Mike Wuzowski is undeniably adorable, which definitely helped draw us in, and the animators were definitely able to let their imaginations run wild while designing all the new characters we got to meet in this sequel.
Brave definitely set out with good intentions, and we love what Merida represents to so many young viewers. That being said, this film left us a little cold (and we mean that literally – Pixar films are usually like eye candy, but the medieval setting of this film made it less inviting than we’re used to).
One thing we remember most about Brave is that final sequence where Merida and her mother are reunited, having grown to understand one another’s perspectives a little better – and there’s no denying that’s a genuinely lovely moment.
17. The Incredibles 2
We did enjoy The Incredibles 2, but compared to the original, it felt like everyone involved was kind of going for a straight-up animated superhero outing, and that’s not really what we’re after when we’re going to see a Pixar film.
There’s no arguing with the fact it was good to have Edna Mode back in our lives, though.
Onward hit UK cinemas just a couple of weeks before we went into lockdown in 2020, so most of us had to wait until it came out on Disney+ to watch it. For Pixar fans who haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a watch, particularly if you have kids that need distraction for 90 minutes.
We have to admit, though, this is action-adventure is a long way off being our favourite (even if we did have an obligatory Pixar cry on about two or three different occasions).
15. Toy Story 4
It might be the the lowest-placed Toy Story film on this list, but don’t let that fool you, as you still won’t make it to the credits dry-eyed.
Still, for all we enjoyed Toy Story 4, we still think of the Toy Story series as a trilogy, with this fourth instalment more of a fun epilogue than anything else.
14. Finding Dory
The sequel Finding Nemo fans waited more than a decade for, Finding Dory did huge numbers at the box office, and we distinctly remember being fans when it came out.
Five years down the line, though, and we can’t actually recall much about his film, other than a recurring Sigourney Weaver gag. Considering the original film is surely one of the most quotable ever, Finding Dory didn’t come close to matching it in that respect.
13. The Incredibles
The Incredibles was a big turning point for Pixar, as it marked the first time the company centred a film entirely around human characters (even if the humans in question did have superpowers).
We have to say, it wouldn’t be our first pick to watch if we were scrolling through Disney+ for a Pixar film to watch, but it’s still brilliant, with laughs and heart in equal measure.
12. A Bug’s Life
An oft-overlooked film from Pixar’s early years, you might be surprised to see A Bug’s Life so high on this list, but honestly there’s a lot here to enjoy, even if it doesn’t get the recognition of films like Toy Story or Finding Nemo.
There are so many characters to fall in love with, the silly gags always make us smile and even when the animation looks a little on the rough side in 2021, it all kind of adds to the charm.
Similarly, you might be surprised to see Up has fallen just outside of our top 10, despite being a critical favourite and one of only three animated films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (the other being Disney’s Beauty And The Beast and another film yet to come up on this list).
Obviously that opening montage is heart-wrenching, the first shot of those balloons is really gorgeous and that moment Carl flicks through his late wife’s “adventures” book has us in bits just thinking about it.
But outside of those three key scenes… we just feel like Up is lacking something compared to the films that we’ve placed above it. When Up is good, it’s incredible, but it still doesn’t quite to live up to the best of the best.
Our take? We really, really enjoyed it.
We haven’t had that much time to mull it over, which is why we’re hesitant to put it above certain classics on our ranking – but it’s most certainly deserving of a high placing on this list.
9. Toy Story
The film that well and truly changed it all. We’ve seen Toy Story roughly 5000 times, so we kind of take for granted just how groundbreaking it was when it was released.
Watching it as a child, we remember laughing out loud throughout, and even revisiting the film after all those years, the comedic moments still stand up – as do some of those signature tear-jerk moments that Pixar has become synonymous with over the years.
Who would have thought a film about a rat with big dreams about becoming a chef would go on to become one of Pixar’s most-loved films?
And if you don’t believe us, why not have a quick scroll through the theatre enthusiasts on TikTok who turned the whole thing into a musical last year, to see just how far Ratatouille’s legacy stretches.
7. Monsters, Inc.
Monsters, Inc., at its core, is a buddy movie packed with plenty of laughs, while the universe it’s set in really allowed the animators to go big with their designs.
But that certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the capacity to move you to tears either – particularly during that devastating scene near the end, when Sully says goodbye to Boo for what he thinks will be the last time, not to mention those final joyful seconds.
Pixar has never shied away from difficult subjects, and this has never been more apparent than in Coco – a whole film about... well, yes, death, but also family, love and the legacy we all leave behind. The whole thing is pulled off brilliantly, looks amazing and it’s so great to have a Pixar film with songs in it for a change.
Be prepared to weep towards the end, though, over a scene you’ll see coming a mile off, but there’s still no real preparing for.
5. Toy Story 2
OK, we’re well and truly into the big leagues now.
There’s a lot we could rave about in Toy Story 2 – a rare Disney sequel that not only matched the original film but bettered it in almost every way – but truly, it’s all about that When She Loved Me sequence, isn’t it?
Probably the origin of the signature Pixar tear-jerker, the three-minute scene explores Jessie’s back story and issues with abandonment... not to mention the fact it guilt-tripped pretty much all of us as we remembered all the once-cherished toys that got relegated under the bed when we were teenagers.
4. Finding Nemo
Ellen Degeneres’ performance as the forgetful Dory is obviously the scene-stealer here, but Finding Nemo is a full-blown emotional rollercoaster as well as a laugh riot.
In a trick that they’d repeat a few years later with Up, Pixar opened this film with its most crushing scene, but scattered throughout are more poignant moments when Marlin regrets being so strict with his beloved son (“You think you can do these things but you just can’t Nemo!”) that pack a real punch, and make the inevitable father-son reunion all the sweeter.
And the jokes! There are so many – some really clever and some so stupid you can’t help but laugh anyway. There’s a reason Finding Nemo has stood the test of time and is frequently hailed as a Pixar classic.
3. Inside Out
It’s so hard to pick our favourite aspect of Inside Out; is it the incredible concept? Phyllis Smith’s somehow-adorable portrayal of Sadness? That blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “facts and opinions” joke? The way it’s fundamentally a children’s film that genuinely made us think more in depth about our own emotions and mental health? Or, indeed, all of the above.
Then, of course, there’s that Bing Bong moment.
As we sat in the cinema watching Riley’s imaginary friend disappearing before our eyes for the very first time, a cynical side of us did think, “hmmm… Pixar has only included this scene to try and make us cry in that Pixar sort of way”.
And then, wiping our tears, we realised it had worked. So fair play to them, really.
2. Toy Story 3
But come on, if you want to talk about Pixar films that made us almost bawl our eyes out, then we have to discuss Toy Story 3.
Not only is there a bit where it genuinely looks like a gang of our childhood favourites are about to be crushed to death by a trash compactor (that bit where they all hold hands!!!!), there’s then heartbreaking scene where Andy plays with his toys for the last time.
We are literally welling up just typing about it, to be honest.
Wall-E is so unlike anything else Pixar (or the Walt Disney Company in general) has ever done, we’re in awe every time we watch it.
The film not only looks stunning, but is packed full of beautiful moments, from Wall-E taking care of Eve during her time on Earth, to the same way she brings him back to life after he saves the day.
Plus, has anyone in cinema history ever come as close to #CoupleGoals as this robot pair? We think not.
All 23 of these films are available now to watch on Disney+. HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.