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Pixar brings its special sort of magic to the big screen. And, though all of the movies are spectacular, some are simply better than others. Here is a list of every Pixar movie ranked, according to Metacritic scores (and perhaps a bit of favoritism for tie-breaking).
First up: Cars 2. It's a so-so sequel of one of Pixar's lesser films that, while amusing enough for its nods to British spy movies, is also a transparent vehicle for merchandising the Cars brand--and toy cars--to kids.
Metacritic rating = 57
His competitors may be newer and shinier, but Lightning McQueen hasn't lost his charm. Cars 3 zoomed ahead of its predecessor to take 16th place in this ranking.
Metacritic rating = 59
Pixar's decision to take on the college movie seems like an odd choice, as most college films involve pretty non-kid friendly material. Monsters University flashes back to best friends Mike and Sulley when they met for the first time at school. Bright moments are evident, such as scenes with their oblivious, cheerful frat mother Sherri, as well as a genuinely scary foray into the human world, but it nevertheless pales in comparison to Monsters, Inc.
Metacritic rating = 65
When Pixar made a feature with a female main character, the studio eschewed formulas of princesses falling in love with princes to show a girl that fights (insert Scottish brogue here) "for her own hand." Despite Disney's ham-handed attempts to fit Merida in with the other Disney princesses, she, Queen Elinor and Brave are decidedly not in the mainstream. And it turns out, breaking the mold works: Brave snagged the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Metacritic rating = 69
Is it just us or does Cars become vastly more interesting when taking into account the unified Pixar Theory? Taking its cues from Route 66, Cars serves as a love song to the open road and small town living. Fun fact: while Cars and Cars 2 were created within Pixar Animation Studios, spinoffs Planes and Planes: Fire and Rescue were produced by DisneyToon Studios, thereby explaining their quality (and why they're not on this list).
Metacritic rating = 73
With nods to Seven Samurai and Lawrence of Arabia, A Bug's Life is actually a retelling of Aesop's fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper. More juvenile than most Pixar movies, it can't match the groundbreaking poignancy of its predecessor Toy Story, nor the adult edge of rival movie Dreamworks' Antz, which was released in the same year.
Metacritic rating = 77
Arguably the best character in Finding Nemo, Dory finally got her own Pixar film 11 years after the original. Finding Dory is a touching family story that will warm the heart. You'll giggle and swoon, but the sequel doesn't have quite the same emotional punch as its predecessor.
Metacritic rating = 77
"Scary" monsters Mike and Sulley face off against the most terrifying being to ever inhabit the monster world--a human kid called Boo. This wildly imaginative take on the monster-hiding-in-the-closet showcases a sophisticated world that slowly comes to accept a powerful thing -- laughter is so much more powerful than screams.
Metacritic rating = 78
Not quite living up to the high standards of the original Toy Story, this sequel still manages to rank amongst the best sequels, regardless of genre. Opening up the world to Barbie, Buzz's nemesis/dad (a total Star Wars nod) and Woody's toy-set companions including Bullseye and Jessie, the sequel still inspires kids of all ages.
Metacritic rating =88
Once you get past the heartbreaking first 20 minutes, which is a feat unto itself, Up transforms into a lush, sweet movie about opening up to new experiences and friends in an uncertain world. As the first Pixar movie in 3D, it's also one of the studio's most beautiful, with its myriad colorful balloons and almost photo-realistic depiction of the Venezuelan rainforest. Oh, plus, Carl and Russell happen to be the cutest ever curmudgeonly old man and enthusiastic boy scout, respectively. Along with its Academy Award for Best Animated Feature win, Up was also nominated for Best Picture in the 2010 Oscar race.
Metacritic rating = 88
Part superhero action flick, part spy caper, The Incredibles visits a world in which superheroes are really and truly just like us. A family movie about a family that doesn't feel treacly twee, the movie also introduces the premier authority on superhero fashion, Edna Mode (voiced by the writer-director Brad Bird). Yes, The Incredibles won the Best Animated Feature Oscar, too.
Metacritic rating = 90
Only Pixar could capture the majesty of the big, blue sea, all the while creating a moving film about a father's quest for his lost son. It's also the first Pixar film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (in 2004).
Metacritic rating = 90
The Academy's Best Animated Feature winner and 2011 Best Picture nominee hits us right in the childhood nostalgia. It simultaneously warmed our hearts with its depiction of growing up and scarred us for life with the maniacally evil acts of Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear. Toy Story 3 is arguably the best "threequel" ever.
Metacritic rating = 92
Pixar touched us all with Inside Out, exploring the complex lives of each of our emotions. Incidentally, you'll run through the gamut of your emotions while watching this film. Ready the tissues!
Metacritic rating = 94
Wall-E, winner of the 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, works on so many levels of cinema storytelling: as a silent film, an old school romance, a space adventure and a cautionary tale--all with a happy ending. Ostensibly a "kids' movie," it explores heady subjects like consumerism, artificial intelligence, environmentalism and what it means to be human. Unlike in robopocalypse movies like The Terminator and The Matrix, Wall-E and his friends encourage humans to regain their humanity.
Metacritic rating = 94
This is the Pixar feature that started it all. Without Toy Story, there would have been no animation renaissance. While Pixar has since surpassed its original feature-length creation with more ambitious projects, Toy Story still holds up. Woody, Buzz and the toy gang capture the joy of being a kid and imagining epic adventures for every beloved toy. It's a perfect film, but it's not No. 1...
Metacritic rating = 95
The Pixar movie about a rat who dreams of becoming a Parisian chef shouldn't work, but given the film's loving depictions of good food's ability to evoke warm memories, and Patton Oswalt's inexplicably charming Remy the rat, it does. The Academy certainly thought so, awarding it the 2008 Best Animated Feature Oscar.
Metacritic rating = 96