Picking out the best Pixar movies is like picking a favorite child. It’s wrong and uncomfortable, and undoubtedly shame and guilt will follow. With so many options, it can be hard to narrow down which ones are really worth seeing.
But thankfully, streaming platforms like Disney+ make it easy to binge some of the better ones. Between personal reasons and viewer ratings, below are ten of the best Pixar movies that fans should watch.
10. Coco (2017)
One of the more recent films, Coco is a beautiful story about Miguel who goes on a journey to find his great-great-grandfather in a magical land, the Land of the Dead.
As he tries to find his ancestor, Miguel starts to realize the lies within the stories, and begins unraveling the secrets. Coco inspires the importance of family, and the need to honor memories and share family history with others. It also sparks the idea of death and life, a topic that is not often brought up in children’s movies.
9. The Incredibles (2004)
It’s impossible to talk about the best Pixar movies without including The Incredibles. This movie is an iconic title for the studio, and rightly so as it not only is a laugh-out-loud film, but it also talks on serious and impactful issues.
Following a family that lives a double life as superheroes, The Incredibles does a great job at exploring important themes. While family is the main theme in this film, it also shows the importance of individuality. Staying together and working as a team brought a victory at the end, but it’s important to note that each child is dealing with their own struggles and were allowed to shine through their own strengths.
This film is not all lighthearted and good humored though, as it can be extremely violent. It’s interesting to watch villains not hesitate to use any means necessary to stop the family, even towards the children, and for the children to not feel guilt or regret when enemies are taken down. So, while this Pixar movie is a great watch with the family, it also presents interesting and unique ideas, making it an enjoyable watch for all ages.
8. Monsters Inc. (2001)
Another iconic name for the studio, Monsters Inc. took the world by storm and is still a fan favorite to this day. This film follows two monsters that work for Monsters Inc., a company that procudes energy for the city by how afraid children are. At night, monsters will creep into children’s room and use their fear and terror as their fuel.
While this movie starts as a play on one of the most common fears for children, it soon turns into a lighthearted story as a little girl, Boo, infiltrates their headquarters, creating a silly and wholesome adventure of two, supposedly scary monsters, doing their best to get her back home safely.
There are several themes at play here. While the main themes focus on the true idea of good vs. evil, as well as common assumptions and unusual relationships, it also encourages children to not be afraid of all unknown, and that the world is filled with more good than bad. For the adults watching, they might pick up on some Marxism themes, diving into the class divide within the institute.
7. Turning Red (2022)
As one of the newest additions to the Pixar franchise, Turning Red does a wonderful job at creating a beautiful story while talking about intense themes. Created by Domee Shi as her directorial debut, Turning Red follows a 13 year old girl named Mei Lee, who does her best to keep up with her mother’s expectations.
But of course, Mei Lee is trying to become her own person, and struggles between finding who she is and staying in her mother’s good graces. When an unexpected turn of events takes place, causing Mei to become a giant red panda, her world is flipped upside down.
One obvious theme for those watching is to never hide who you are and embrace your uniqueness and personality. There is also a strong message to the parents watching to try and let your children explore their personalities, and to be more accepting and relaxed with childhoods, as it’s their only one. It’s an inspiring piece that is a perfect watch for all ages.
READ MORE: Best Disney Plus Movies for Adults
6. Inside Out (2015)
Another film that talks about staying true to who you are, Inside Out explores the idea of personified emotions. The simplified version of these emotions shows viewers that each person has a main emotion that controls their body, and each one is different. It creates a unique look into how everyone takes on their daily lives in their own way.
The film follows Riley, a girl who is dealing with the hardships of change in her life and how each emotion plays into her every moment. When core memories are corrupted in Riley’s mind, the emotions work on trying to protect her, creating a unique string of events. This not only teaches children that every emotion is important but that it’s also okay to feel all emotions, even the ones that are labeled as ‘negative’.
Adults can take this movie and see how every emotion is beneficial, and to let children feel the way they do, because most of the time it isn’t a bad thing, and it might be needed. It’s not only an enjoyable movie, but it’s a great learning experience for all ages.
5. Up (2009)
Up has a similar structure to Wall-E, with its beginning being memorable for grownups. It’s a movie about loneliness, missed adventures, and lost love. Not once does it try to be for children; it only wants to connect, and it does.
Then Russell appears and the Pixar cuteness and comedy ramp up. It’s great fun, and Kevin, the female bird swaying with Russell between her legs, is the movie’s funniest moment.
Up is Pixar’s best story. It doesn’t have the impact of Wall-E‘s opening act, yet its ending is as poignant, heartfelt, and relevant as the movie’s beginning. It may not have the laughs of some of the other Pixar movies, but it’s a must-watch for anyone with Disney Plus.
Up made $735.1 million globally, with $293 million coming from the United States and Canada alone. It also earned a rating of 98 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the second-highest-rated best Pixar movie.
4. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Toy Story 2 remains the best in the series.
Toy Story was the movie that made Pixar numero uno in big-screen animation. As an animation student, I remember watching Woody and Co. at the theatre thinking, “this is the future.” Considering the stories Pixar has told, I wasn’t wrong.
Despite being left open-mouthed by Toy Story, its sequel was the better movie. For me, the Roundup Gang, Woody’s origin, and the lovable Bullseye are the pinnacle of this series. Together, they’re a flashback to the classic western era and collectible toys that tap into my nostalgia. Whenever something can do that, I can’t help but become attached.
In 2000, Toy Story 2 became the third-highest-grossing animated movie of all time behind The Lion King and Aladdin. It made a whopping $497.4-million at the box office and has a rating of 100 percent by critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Ratatouille (2007)
Out of all the movies available, Ratatouille was the one my daughter watched over and over. Who would have thought a story about a cuisine-cooking rat could grab a child’s attention, besides Pixar?
I have asked but she cannot remember why she liked it so much. Maybe it’s because the movie is about a rat-controlled boy. Regardless, it inspired my daughter to try cooking, and no other movie has ever turned engagement into motivation.
I know that letting my daughter repeatedly watch Ratatouille could be called bad parenting but each time she did, I’d get something baked. Thank you, Remy the rat — and Pixar!
The $47 million Ratatouille earned at the US box office made it the worst Pixar opening since A Bug’s Life. Despite this, the movie went on to gross $620.7 million globally and earned a rating of 96 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Finding Dory (2016)
Unlike the Toy Story series, I cannot pick my favorite movie between Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. They’re both great, so it came down to which has my favorite characters — and that’s definitely Finding Dory.
First, we have Gerald the sea lion, who gets barked off a rock by Idris Elba and Dominic West (also sea lions). What’s fantastic is later Gerald gets on the rock, and his face is worth the one million memes it became.
Then we have Becky, who in all honesty needs her own movie. She looks crazy, acts crazy, and caused me to cry raspberry tears at the movie theatre. Disney and Pixar need to add a hazard warning “do not watch Becky while drinking.”
Finding Dory is a must-watch movie if for nothing more than to watch Becky eating a cup or chanting with Dory and all the other fish. Those two moments — and Gerald, of course — make this movie worth one month of Disney Plus subscription on its own.
1. Wall-E (2008)
Wall-E is not only Pixar’s best-animated movie, but it’s also Disney’s. It’s a bold claim considering Disney’s body of work started in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and includes hits like The Lion King. What’s even bolder is that it’s only the movie’s first act that’s special.
If you haven’t seen Wall-E‘s first 30 minutes, stop what you’re doing and watch. It touches on nostalgia, keepsakes, daily grind, and the trepidation of making new friends. Its cinematic perfection and what Pixar was able to do with a trash compactor borders on witchcraft.
This doesn’t mean Wall-E‘s second and third acts aren’t great. They’re definitely fun, with a scary accurate social parody where humans are reliant on machines and obsessed with screens. It just never again hits the heights of those first 30 minutes.