The arrival of Toy Story—and by extension Pixar Animation Studios—in 1995 forever changed how we see movies. Not since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves has the medium of animation been so significantly rocked, as new technology brought colorful CG to audiences for the first time ever. Within a decade, CG would replace hand-drawn 2D animation as the dominant medium at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the animation world would remain forever transformed.
But Pixar’s legacy doesn’t begin and end with technology. Sure, Toy Story ushered in a new visual medium, but it also shook up the animated feature film world in much more fundamental ways. Pixar eschewed the tradition of fairy tales, sing-a-longs, and overly kid-oriented storytelling in favor of a more bold and mature approach. The folks at Pixar—headed up by the future “brain trust” of John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and the late Joe Ranft—moved forward with the idea that animated films weren’t only for kids, and kids don’t need (or want) to be talked down to. Story, character, and emotion are king, and if you nail all three without pandering, you just might have something special on your hands.
That formula was repeated time and time again, as Pixar forged ahead with what seemed to be an impossible track record of greatness. The stumbles came eventually, inevitably, but the studio is always pushing ambitious ideas, and 2015 was the first time in history where we saw two Pixar films released in the same year.
As the studio shows no signs of slowing down, now seems like an opportune time to look back at how Pixar’s oeuvre stacks up so far. Without further ado, I present a complete ranking of all the Pixar films from worst to best.