As one of the most successful and innovative animation studios of our time, Pixar has consistently been responsible for some of the most beloved animated movies released in the last thirty years. They’ve also come a long way since their early works of animation, having transformed from comparatively rudimentary animated characters to animals and scenery and textures that look pretty darn close to lifelike these days.
While most of Pixar’s films have been highly regarded, not even the megastudio is impervious to making some films that definitely should never have made it past the drawing board (see: the many sequels to Cars, and honestly, Monsters University, too). But when Pixar is at the top of its game, they produce animated films that are on par with some of the greatest cinematic works of art of all time. Here, we’re looking at the top ten films Pixar has produced, according to their scores on IMDb.
10 Ratatouille (8.0)
Released in 2007, the often overlooked film Ratatouille comes in at #10 on the IMDb ranking list, with a solid 8.0. The film tells the story of the unlikely friendship formed by an incompetent chef, Alfredo Linguini, and a culinary genius rat, Remy. Through hilarious works of puppetry, and almost Cyrano-esque behavior, Remy controls Alfredo and earns him respect and renown as a gifted chef.
Ratatouille also touches on deeply emotional and at times dark stories of family identity and belonging, more than most other Pixar films do. The film features the voice talents of actors including Patton Oswalt, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, and the legendary Peter O’Toole. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
9 Monsters, Inc (8.1)
Coming in ninth place on IMDb’s ranking list, with an honestly too low 8.1, is the 2001 classic Monsters, Inc. As with many of Pixar’s most successful films, the movie chronicles the typical buddy narrative, with monster coworkers and best friends James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski steering most of the film’s action.
But the real heart of the film can be found in the relationship between the two monsters and the little girl they find themselves becoming the unwitting guardian of, Boo. Pixar doesn’t shy away from scarier action sequences here, but it also supplies layers upon layers of comedy, too. That’s made possible through the perfect casting of John Goodman and Billy Crystal in the lead roles.
8 Finding Nemo (8.1)
In eighth place according to IMDb’s rating system, also scoring a respectable 8.1, is the beloved 2003 film Finding Nemo. While Pixar had dealt with emotional material before this film, Finding Nemo truly showed just how deeply emotional the studio was willing to get. The film follows the journey of father Marlin and son Nemo and their desperate attempts to be reunited after Nemo is caught by a diver.
Along the way, Marlin teams up with the forgetful fish Dory, a character that truly served as a career-defining and celebrity-making role for the iconic Ellen DeGeneres. Other notable talents who lent their voices to the film include Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Geoffrey Rush, and Stephen Root. The critically acclaimed film would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well.
7 Up (8.2)
Released in 2009, film #7 in this list boasts a 8.2 score on IMDb: the heartstrings tugging Up. Perhaps one of the clearest examples of Pixar’s love of odd couple relationships, Up chronicles the unlikely friendship that forms between a curmudgeonly elderly man, Carl Fredricksen, and a young Wilderness Explorer, Russell.
In addition to the heartbreaking backstory of Carl’s lost love, Ellie, the film offers many touching examples of inter-generational, and inter-species, friendships, as Russell and Carl come to care about one another deeply through their amazing adventures through the clouds. Unlike other Pixar films, besides the casting of Hollywood legend Ed Asner as Carl, the film’s voice cast consisted primarily of people who actually worked within Pixar itself.
6 Inside Out (8.2)
Pixar has long been known to play with people’s emotions. But with the release of the 2015 film Inside Out, they quite literally made a film based on the difficult emotions that everyone deals with every day. Coming in at sixth place on IMDb’s ranking, with an 8.2 score, the critically acclaimed Inside Out offers an incredibly nuanced look at the inner workings of the human mind, through the point of view of teenage girl, Riley.
Within her mind, five distinct and vibrant emotions are at work: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). As Riley undergoes the changes of moving and young adolescent stresses, the emotions find themselves fearing for their very existence, as Riley’s very nature is changing and unpredictable. The deeply emotional film would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
5 Toy Story 4 (8.2)
It might be the newest film on this list, but there’s no denying that Toy Story 4 is already a classic in the canon of all things Pixar. Ranking in fifth place with an 8.2 according to IMDb’s judging audience, the latest (and possibly last) entry in the incredibly beloved Toy Story franchise is arguably the most adult, and quite possibly the most emotional of them all.
Featuring the return of Bo Peep, and the introduction of characters like Forky and Bunny and Ducky, the movie chronicles Woody’s journey as he struggles to find his place in the world, following the realization that Bonnie doesn’t need him in the same way that Andy once did. The film’s ending is as shocking as it is beautiful, and will also bring the tears on each and every viewing.
4 Toy Story 3 (8.3)
Even nearly a decade after its release, it’s hard to think about the fourth place film on this list without bursting into tears. With an 8.3 on IMDb, it’s Toy Story 3. The film, when it was released, was believed to be the final chapter in the Toy Story saga, and given the level of finality and change the film depicts, it’s not hard to see why. While the film introduces characters like Lotso Huggin Bear and Ken, it is most vividly remembered for two scenes in particular.
The first scene finds our beloved, heroic toys nearly hurtling to their death inside a fiery trash compactor, emotionally clinging tight to one another in the face of certain doom. But after they survive, the toys find themselves facing an ending of another kind, as Andy, leaving for college, emotionally hands the toys off to young Bonnie, realizing that they could do more for a new young child than they could for him any longer.
3 Toy Story (8.3)
It was the movie that started everything. Coming in at third place, with an 8.3 on IMDb, the original Toy Story, released in 1995, was a movie that changed the filmmaking world, for animators and non-animators alike. Nothing of its kind had been seen before, as it redefined what could be done with animation, and what stories could be like with animated characters at the forefront.
Featuring the impressive list of talents that included Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, and Jim Varney, the film established that toys could be real, living, vibrant characters. It also created a friendship for the ages in the odd couple bond that was built between Sheriff Woody Pride and Buzz Lightyear. Toy Story put Pixar on the map. For that reason alone, the film deserves to rank among the very best of them all.
2 WALL-E (8.4)
Arguably one of the more overlooked Pixar films, and for that reason a truly surprising second place ranker, the 2008 film WALL-E comes in with an 8.4 score on IMDb. The film is arguably one of Pixar’s more ambitious, and also one that offers a sharply critical message, from an environmental perspective. The world of WALL-E is a post-apocalytpic one, as Earth is no longer habitable, and deemed a practical wasteland that WALL-E himself is left to clean.
WALL-E itself even stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifer: Earth-Class. Along his travels around the destroyed planet, WALL-E meets and falls in love with another robot, EVE, whose name stands for Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. The film is heartbreaking in its message, but breathtaking in its visuals, and would also win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as a result.
1 Coco (8.4)
Released in 2017, and coming in at #1 on IMDb’s current ranking of all Pixar films, is the critically acclaimed film Coco, which earned an 8.4 on IMDb’s scale. The film represents one of the most diverse animated films of the modern era, as it spotlights the lives and culture and music of Mexican culture.
The multi-generational family structure is more complex than most families that have been depicted in animated movies, as well, further adding to the intense emotional content of the film’s narrative. Though it ostensibly chronicles young Miguel’s desire to become a singer, the film in reality depicts the story of familial love, and how far family is willing to go for one another. Boasting an impressive cast including Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Edward James Olmos, the family saga would go on to win yet another Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, adding to Pixar’s impressive list.
NEXT: The 5 Best Friendships In Pixar Movies (& 5 Worst)