Since Lightyear, Pixar’s 26th film, just dropped on Disney+ last week, it’s now easier than ever to watch all of the famous animation studio’s movies. With this in mind, we’ve ranked every Pixar film, from the groundbreaking Toy Story in 1995 onward.
Even though we relished a few of these animated classics, and even though the studio has a history of pushing the limits of storytelling with some of their more idiosyncratic and quirky offerings, there are still many criticisms that could be made about Pixar.
The company has been chastised for sidelining women and people of color. Only one of the 26 movies in their filmography was solely directed by a woman — 2022’s Turning Red, which was directed by the Canadian Chinese filmmaker Domee Shi (Bao). While 2012’s Brave credits Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman as co-directors, she was taken off the movie halfway through its production.
The Mexican American Adrian Molina is credited as the co-director of Coco (2017) and the playwright Kemp Powers, who’s Black, was the co-director of Soul (2020). But you’ll mostly find an array of white male directors in Pixar’s roster.
Pixar’s former head, John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), was ousted in 2018 after being accused of a pattern of workplace misconduct and sexual misconduct. Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out) replaced Lasseter as chief creative officer and has been credited for fostering more of an emphasis on diversity and inclusion at the company.
In March of this year, Pixar’s LGBTQ+ employees and their allies released an open letter denouncing how Disney has censored same-sex affection in their films. (Disney purchased the animation studio in 2006.) Lightyear, which premiered on June 17, featured the first same-sex kiss and openly queer character in a Pixar movie.
The Ranking Method
Let’s say there’s a method to the ranking here— a fairly scientific one. All of Ask Media Group’s editorial team members voted on the movies they’d seen, ranking them from 1–5.
Here’s the system we used:
1 You can skip it
3 Good enough
Our Social Media Editor Bryn Rich has watched the entire Pixar filmography but one title — Lightyear — and has lots of opinions on how the four Toy Story movies should be ranked. Per Bryn’s recommendation, it should be: “Toy Story > Toy Story 3 >>>> Toy Story 4 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Toy Story 2.” Then there’s our Editor Lecia Brown, she admits not watching a lot of movies but she has seen a ton of Pixar ones with her godchildren.
We averaged everyone’s votes but we also had in mind what critics and audiences at large have to say about these titles, so we added Rotten Tomatoes’ rankings — both the critics’ Tomatometer and the audience score — to the equation. As a result, each of the movies got a 1–5 score that determined their spots on the list. Here’s our final ranking of every Pixar movie. The titles have been organized from worst to best.
26. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
What if the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs missed? Who would walk the Earth? Not sure many of us actually cared. Only one person on our team watched this movie and The Good Dinosaur was deemed Pixar’s first box-office disaster. That’s probably why it ended up in the last position.
25. Cars 2 (2011)
The most generous members of our team have given this second installment of the car-talking and racing franchise a simple “Meh,” while others deem it perfectly skippable. Most of us didn’t even bother watching it. You’ll see that, when it comes to Cars, we aren’t exactly enthusiasts. We’re not alone either: this movie holds a 39% approval among critics and a paltry 49% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
24. Cars 3 (2017)
The third, and hopefully last, entry in the Cars universe finds Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) trying to prove he’s still at the top of his game as a racecar.
The film was decently reviewed when it debuted but the previous installment of this saga didn’t help its chances of warming our hearts or getting us into the talking-vehicles mode.
23. Lightyear (2022)
Our Editor Kate Bove was tempted to give Pixar’s newest entry a bare minimum 1 but she decided to bump it up to 2 just for the Black, Indigenous and queer representation in the movie. “I was happy to hear the voices of Keke Palmer, Uzo Adubo and Taika Waititi,” Kate says. And she makes a very fair point. Our Updates Editor Jenna Ciotta gave the movie a 3. So this is one of these cases where representation is doing a lot for this otherwise flawed title.
Lightyear returns once again to the often-tapped well of Toy Story and explores the origin story of the Buzz Lightyear action figure the movie is based on.
22. Cars (2006)
I’ve never found the idea of anthropomorphized vehicles very enticing. Most Pixar titles have been successful because they appeal not only to children but grown-ups too, but Cars most definitely felt like young-children fare. (And a way to sell toys.) What else can I say? Cars is the reason I never bothered watching Cars 2 or 3.
This film had some allure though. Actor Paul Newman voiced the blue Hudson Hornet Doc Hudson. It was one of his last projects as an actor.
21. Finding Dory (2016)
With an overall score of 3.35 — when you average the team’s votes with the Tomatometer — things start getting somewhat interesting here. Granted, this is yet again another sequel and Pixar’s been lauded mostly for its original narratives.
But there are still a lot of takeaways from this tale about the importance of found family and the pleasures of taking risks and even venturing to travel outside of your comfort zone.
20. Brave (2012)
Pixar’s first movie centering a female protagonist is number 13 in its filmography. The movie stars Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald as the voice of Merida, a headstrong young princess set on breaking with tradition and not marrying one of the sons of her father’s allies. Emma Thompson also stars as Elinor, Merida’s mother.
What should have been Pixar’s big bet on female representation ended up diluted when director Brenda Chapman was removed from the movie. In the end, Brave was but an assortment of good ideas (and a bright red curly mane) that didn’t manage a solid enough story.
19. Monsters University (2013)
Let’s add yet another sequel to this list, this one to Monsters, Inc. (2001). I guess one of the advantages of animation is that you can do prequels without having to worry about digitally de-aging or recasting your protagonists.
In Monsters University, we see Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) meeting in college and learning how to be “Scarers”…
18. A Bug’s Life (1998)
Probably the main issue with Pixar’s second film is that it premiered a couple of months after another animated title that also featured little bugs as its protagonists: Antz. The DreamWorks title boasted celebrity voice performances by Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone and Woody Allen — long before the sexual abuse allegations against the actor and director were newly reexamined in the HBO docuseries Farrow v. Allen (2021)
So you may have skipped A Bug’s Life altogether just because you felt you’d already watched the movie in its Antz iteration.
17. Luca (2021)
We have lots of opinions about this dreamy coming-of-age story that sees its protagonist Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) spending the most magical of summers in the Italian Riviera, eating gelato, riding bikes (and Vespas), swimming in the Ligurian Sea and shutting up that inner voice that tells him not to take risks (“Silenzio Bruno!”). The movie is also a metaphor for the idea of feeling different or excluded and what it means to feel like you belong.
And while Luca can be seen as yet another example of Disney’s queerbaiting problem — where the attraction between the two sea monsters and teenagers gets teased but falls short of representation — Enrico Casarosa, the film’s director, has said they were thinking about race, and not sexuality, when making this movie about outsiders, but he’s happy the metaphor is being read in different ways.
You can read our full review of Luca here.
16. Onward (2020)
After a few years in which Pixar had almost exclusively thrown sequels at us — Finding Dory (2016), Cars 3 (2017), Incredibles 2 (2018) and Toy Story 4 (2019), with the exception being 2017’s Coco — it was nice to enjoy a movie like Onward where you’d be pressed to describe its premise.
This movie has gotten a 1 from our Social Media Editor Bryn, a 2 from our Editor Kate, a 5 from our Editor Lecia and a 3 from me. So you could say we were most definitely divided. It’s still a great watch if you want to enjoy an adventure with a healthy dose of brotherly love.
15. Toy Story 2 (1999)
When it comes to the long-running Toy Story franchise, Bryn may be onto something because, in the end, our ranking resulted in more or less his take on how these movies should be classified.
But just so that we refresh your memory in telling all the Toy Story films apart, this is the one where a collector steals Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), which forces Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang to come to his rescue.
14. Toy Story 4 (2019)
The latest entry in the Toy Story property showed once again that Pixar knows how to execute a script perfectly. All of the story beats are there, but the fourth installment of Woody’s tale still feels repetitive and slightly formulaic. Yes, our gang of toys was — yet again — deeply invested in a rescue mission with a tight deadline.
Keanu Reeves, who voices the Canadian toy motorist Duke Caboom, contributed to some of the novelty and freshness of this story. But all in all, and even though it premiered in 2019, it felt a lot like the same dish Pixar has been cooking since 1995.
13. The Incredibles (2004)
We’re entering must-watch territory here as The Incredibles is the first movie on our list with a score higher than 4. Before superheroes started being ubiquitous at the movie theater, Pixar and director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) devised this story about a family of supers where the patriarch is going through a midlife crisis. He wants to quit his boring job at an insurance agency and simply go back to chasing baddies.
Fortunately, he has an exceptional family that’ll come to the rescue when he gets in trouble and needs them the most.
12. Turning Red (2022)
Pixar’s first film solely directed by a woman has already become one of our favorite 2022 movies. In Turning Red, Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) is a 13-year-old overachiever faced with the reality of entering puberty and poofing into a red panda every time she feels overwhelmed or stressed out.
The movie deals with the subject of learning how to handle your inner beast but also staying true to yourself. It has the added bonus of being set in 2002.
You can read Turning Red’s full review here.
11. Soul (2020)
Pixar’s first movie with a Black lead protagonist and co-directed by a Black filmmaker — Kemp Powers — along with Pete Docter was only made in 2020, but it was a triumphant return of the studio to their unconventional fare in films like Inside Out (2015), Up (2009) or WALL·E (2008).
In Soul, Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a New York City music teacher and aspiring professional jazz pianist. He finally manages to make it into the jazz scene the same day that he accidentally falls down a manhole. As a result, his soul ends in the Great Before, the place where new souls find their personalities. Needless to say, Joe will desperately try to make it back to his old life.
10. Incredibles 2 (2018)
In the case of Incredibles, the second installment is most definitely superior to the first one. It also arrived at the perfect time, on the heels of the #MeToo movement and in a moment where there was a higher push to have parity when it comes to female characters in leading roles.
So it was only fitting that in Incredibles 2, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) stayed home to take care of the kids while Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) took a job fighting crime. That being said — and even though the movie passes the Bechdel test — at the end of the day (and the movie) Incredibles 2’s feminism fell short.
9. Ratatouille (2007)
This story is about a rat who wants to be a professional chef and ends up helping a not-specially-talented restaurant employee to become a successful cook. You can classify it as one of the many imaginative titles in Pixar’s most creative era preceding 2008’s WALL·E and 2009’s Up.
On the other hand, if the idea of a rodent in the kitchen makes you as uncomfortable as it does me, it may be a bit of a tough pic to swallow.
8. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
It’s difficult not to get moved by this story about a company that uses terrified children’s screams to obtain energy. Especially considering that the two leading monsters responsible for scaring kiddos — Mike Wazowski and Sullivan — are quite cuddly and adorable and end up realizing that they actually like young humans.
7. Finding Nemo (2003)
Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is an overprotective clownfish and single father of Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) after his partner Coral (voiced by Elizabeth Perkins) and all of their other eggs were killed in a barracuda attack on their quaint oceanic neighborhood. As a result of that incident, Marlin has become more than averse to any type of risk-taking.
But when the little Nemo finds himself lost and captured by humans, Marlin will have to venture into the great ocean to get his son back. He’ll have the inestimable help of Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a Blue Tang with short-term memory loss.
6. Toy Story 3 (2010)
If, like me, by this point, you’re having problems telling all of the Toy Story movies apart. This is the one with the mean-but-still-cuddly-and-cute-pink teddy bear Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty).
In this movie, the toys find themselves in a daycare center after having been donated by mistake. Convinced their human Andy discarded them, the toys feel a bit betrayed. Woody tries to convince them that it all was an accident but, more urgently, they realize that getting played with by toddlers is not for the faint-hearted.
5. Toy Story (1995)
Pixar’s first ever feature got a 4.5 score when we combined the votes from our editorial team with Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is a technological feat, even though if you watch it now you’ll notice how much animation has evolved in the last more than 25 years when it comes to textures, lightning, hair recreation and even the depiction of eyes.
But mostly this is a movie that has endured the passage of time for the story at its heart: that of the cowboy toy Woody learning how to cope with the idea that he’s no longer the only favorite toy to his human Andy and sharing that spotlight with the slightly vain Buzz.
4. Inside Out (2015)
We’re getting into prime Pixar territory here with a movie that offers a front-row seat into the inside of a teenage girl’s mind. The premise of Inside Out is that all of us are governed by a mixture of sadness, anger, fear, disgust and joy and that the key is to find the perfect equilibrium among all of them. Because too much of anything — even joy — can sometimes be unbalancing.
3. Coco (2017)
We have a soft spot for Coco at Ask, three of our editors gave this movie a 5 and another two members — me included —- think it’s definitely must-watch material. Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, this love letter to Mexico and its Día de los Muertos tradition gets the viewer to reconsider their relationship with their family, their passions, their loved ones who have already died and even music.
On top of this heartfelt story about the young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) and his dream of becoming a musician, Coco is just a beautiful colorful film to look at, especially in its portrayal of the land of our ancestors.
2. Up (2009)
What can I say? Up’s sequence illustrating Carl (voiced by Edward Asner) and Ellie’s love story as a couple growing older together gets me every time.
But after starting big and managing to make the viewer cry right at the beginning of the movie, the film also tells the tale of the 78-year-old Carl on his way to enjoy the adventure he’s been waiting for his whole life.
When Carl takes off with his flying house propelled by balloons, he realizes the tenacious wilderness explorer Russell (voiced by Jordan Nagai) has stowed away in Carl’s house, set on getting another badge. What follows is a story of friendship, rebelliousness and the many places where you can find paradise.
Oh yes, and dogs really are obsessed with squirrels.
1. WALL·E (2008)
This cautionary tale that managed to capture a quite plausible and not-so-distant future if humans keep set on our continuous consumerism, disregard for the health of the planet, and obsession with screens, stars the little garbage-disposal robot WALL·E. When WALL·E meets the scout robot EVE — EVE is looking for signs of life on Earth where WALL·E still resides — WALL·E can’t help but fall in love with EVE.
What follows is a robotic love story, yes. But also a fable about the power of thinking outside the box, (literally) standing up and following our dreams.