By Brandon Matzke
Well, a new Pixar film is coming out. Specifically Coco, coming out on the 24th. But what should you watch in preparation? Well, there’s two routes to go; the cultural route (watching The Book Of Life), or the studio route (watching Pixar’s excellent filmography). I’ll go with the studio route today. Pixar (for the most part) is the master of computer animation; almost every film they’ve made managed to be visually stunning while also being emotionally powerful. So, here’s a celebration of these masters of their craft: my top 5 Pixar films! Keep in mind, these are my personal opinions. If you disagree with me, that’s perfectly OK. Think of these as my recommendations. Also, I won’t be including any Toy Story films on this list. Because, let’s be honest, nobody can pick their favorite Toy Story movie. It’s impossible.
The Incredibles. It’s not just because of superheroes, or Samuel L. Jackson demanding to know where his super suit is. The Incredibles managed to also be a touching film about the importance of family and letting go of the past. Plus, Syndrome is still my favorite Pixar villain. C’mon, that guy stole the show!
Ratatouille. I honestly have no clue where the idea for this film came from; rat meets boy and the two become chefs? In France?! Well, wherever it came from, it worked. This film managed to introduce one of Pixar’s most relatable characters (Remmy), have an inspiring plot involving chasing your dreams, and also managed to be pretty funny. Well done Pixar, well made. Although as someone who has actually made ratatouille (the meal), I can say that food critic deserves a medal for his patience. It takes almost an entire day to make that stuff!
Well, I got those over with. Onto the list!
5. Monsters Inc. (2001)
Monsters Inc. is a very strange movie; it makes a childhood fear (monsters under the bed or in your closet) and turns it into a business involving magical doors and scream power. I honestly don’t know how everything works in this film, nor do I want to. But under all this complexity, we have a touching story of an unlikely friendship between the giant James P. Sullivan (Sully for short, not at all like that Tom Hanks movie), and a little girl named Boo. This film has some surprisingly emotional moments (that ending…so beautiful), but it also has some comedic moments (many come from Billy Crystal’s Mike Wazowski). It’s a film brimming with creativity, emotion, and humor. A Pixar classic.
4. Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out was a film I had little anticipation for. In fact, I didn’t even see it in theaters; I only saw it because of a kind art teacher. And I gotta say, I am so sorry I missed out on this one in theaters. Inside Out is a film literally about emotions: from the cheery and humorous Joy, to the sarcastic and quick-tempered Anger (who probably has the best casting decision ever from Pixar), and the weirdly relatable Sadness. They all live inside the mind of the eleven-year old Riley (the first Pixar character to also be a central location), who has just moved to San Francisco. But homesickness and a series of disappointments start appearing in Riley’s life, and soon things get complicated… This film is extremely emotional, but it’s literally about emotions, so what did you expect?! It also has one of the saddest moments in any film ever (I won’t spoil it, but dang does it hurt every time), a great sense of humor (“I like the funny movie where the dog dies” is an actual quote from the movie!), and some very memorable characters. It’s really a shame that it wasn’t a best picture nominee… Along with a few dozen films from 2015.
3. UP (2009)
One of the first Pixar films I remember seeing in theaters, UP is one of the three animated films to be best picture nominees (along with Beauty and The Beast (1991) and Toy Story 3). And for a good reason too. This film follows Carl, an elderly man who’s got very little to live for; his wife died, he has no children, and he’s likely going to have his home torn down after a brief outrage. But when all his hope is drained, Carl decides to accomplish a childhood dream, and take his house to a South American landmark known as Paradise Falls. With the help of a few thousand balloons, of course. It all goes perfectly to plan… until a 10-year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell tags along. This film has some whimsical and fun moments without a doubt, but it also has some emotional moments, too. From it’s famous tragic opening, to a very touching scene involving a childhood book, everything that can be considered a tearjerker is in here. But it has some lighthearted and fun moments too, and there are times where I couldn’t help but think of classic adventure movies. UP definitely deserved it’s best picture nominee, and is proof that Pixar can make a good time come from any concept, no matter how sad.
2. Finding Nemo (2003)
This movie was essentially 90% of my childhood from age 0-4. Fun fact, I was born exactly 24 hours after this film was released in theaters! And while I might not watch it as much as I used to, I still do enjoy it. Finding Nemo follows Marlin, an overprotective clownfish father who is basically the G version of Liam Neeson in Taken. When his son Nemo is taken away by a scuba diver, it’s up to him and an amnesic woman named Dory (Ellen Degeneres) to travel across the ocean to find this diver, where he’s taken Nemo, and how to get to him. This film is so filled with creativity and wonder that it’s not even funny; the characters are so memorable, and this film can be very emotional. I mean, that opening… what is it with Pixar and depressing openings?! But yeah, Finding Nemo is fun for the whole family, and one of my most nostalgic films ever
1. Wall-E (2008)
When your film is compared to Stanley Kubrick’s phenomenal 2001 A Space Odyssey, tops TIME magazine’s top 100 best films of the decade, and wins several hundred awards across the globe, you’ve made something phenomenal. Wall-E starts in an apocalyptic Earth, one where there isn’t a single human being. Where there’s more trash than life. Where the only even remotely living thing is Wall-E. Wall-E is a robot whose sole purpose is to clean up the garbage us humans left behind. Thing is, he’s the last of his kind. And when you’ve spent 700 years doing nothing but cleaning garbage, chances are you’re going to be lonely. But when a mysterious new robot named Eve arrives, his whole life and purpose changes. This is a visually stunning movie; capturing the beauty of space and this world perfectly. The score too, oh, that score! Wow it’s incredible! The characters, despite many not saying a word, are all memorable beyond belief. The story isn’t afraid to discuss themes like consumerism, human nature, and what it means to truly live. I could go on for hours about why Wall-E is brilliant, but I’ll just give it an 11/10 before I keep rambling about why I adore this film.
So, those were my favorite Pixar films. I plan on reviewing their upcoming Coco (which I heard could be one of Pixar’s best), along with a few other films from this month. And maybe I’ll even review some older films too. Anyways, it was fun discussing Pixar, and I hope you’ll keep reading.