Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Reel Opinion: The Top 5 Pixar Films

Pixar Animation Studios released its 17th feature film last weekend in FINDING DORY. The film has been a box office smash, breaking records on its opening weekend, and has also been reviewed well by critics (review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film has a 94% approval rating, and read Reel Speak’s review HERE). With no new film from the famed studio coming until June of 2017, now seemed like a good time to take stock of their impressive list of films and rank the best.

Since 1995, Pixar and their Disney partners have been producing quality films which have been critical darlings, box office monsters, Oscar winners, and a constant renewing presence in pop-culture. Their best works can hold up to any dramatic live-action film out of Hollywood, and they have that talent to strike the perfect balance between light entertainment for kids and adult sensibilities; if Pixar were a toy on the shelf at a toy store, the recommended ages would be 3 years to 100.

With such success, whittling down their 17 films to just five is not an easy task. This list of Top 5 Pixar films is based on this Blogger’s objective eye, personal impact, and longevity in pop-culture. Why only five? Simply because it presents a greater challenge; it’s easy to make a Top 10 list because there’s no guilt to be felt in leaving a film or two off.

So let’s wind the frog…

5. CARS (2006) – It’s very rare, if ever, that CARS would land on many people’s lists of Pixar’s best, but this Blogger has always had a great time with this film. Set in a fantasy world of anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles, CARS had a plot which was familiar and had been seen before, but it worked because it was an old story in a new setting…a setting which had never really been seen before in a feature film. It proves the old filmmaking axiom that the higher the concept, the simpler the story must be. When judging the story objectively (meaning, pretend you never saw this familiar story before), CARS works…and the design in the vehicles and the environments is some of the most creative work ever done by Pixar.

4. WALL-E (2008) – Pixar has strived on classic storytelling, with many of its films resembling the type of yarns to be spun around a campfire. They have a folk-hero feeling to their characters, and with WALL-E, the story of a lonely robot…Pixar may have found their most unique and lovable folk-hero. WALL-E works as a love story, a science-fiction tale, and a morality lesson…and the fact that the main character doesn’t really speak and yet becomes so endearing is a testament to Pixar’s design work and strength of their scripts. WALL-E isn’t just a movie, but a genuine film; the type that Kubrick would have loved.

3. INSIDE OUT (2015) – Earlier this year, Reel Speak posted a blog on the Top 15 Movies of the Millennium (read it HERE), and INSIDE OUT was the youngest entry on the list. Set inside the mind of a young girl where her personified emotions lead her through life, INSIDE OUT is not only the most creative and imaginative effort from Pixar, but 100 years from now it will be the one to be used as a teaching tool to teach kids about their emotions. INSIDE OUT is emotionally rewarding and incredibly thought-provoking, with more than one moment to have us reaching for the tissues.

2. TOY STORY (1995) – Now in its 21st year, the very first feature from Pixar still stands as one of its finest. The animation may seem dated today, but in 1995 it was eye-popping and stunning, and today the strength of the script, characters, and story carry just as much weight as they did 21 years ago. Focusing on a room full of child’s toys, led by a pullstring cowboy doll named Woody, and a high-tech astronaut/action figure named Buzz Lightyear, TOY STORY was an easy blast for kids, but for adults it touched upon something deeper; forgotten memories of favorite toys, playrooms, and sandboxes…and all the unlimited adventures their imaginations could conjure up. Literally every character in TOY STORY is a household name, with Woody and Buzz as two of the most popular fictional characters of all time.

1. THE INCREDIBLES (2004) – They say that there are only seven basic plots in which all stories and movies come from, but there is another theory that says there is only one story to be told: Who Am I. With THE INCREDIBLES, which tells the story of a family of superheroes, all five members of the family (a ma, a pa, older sister, younger brother and baby brother), have identities of their own to fulfill. It’s a remarkable piece of writing which keeps all members of the family in mind at all times, and there’s never a time when any of them take a back seat or lose any development. Story-wise, THE INCREDIBLES was Pixar’s first time in dipping their toes into another popular genre (superhero movies), and they executed it better than some of the big-budget live-action superhero films; what it means to be a hero and a regular person is explored perfectly, and done in a way which never feels old and tired. But most of all, with the film’s main characters an actual family, THE INCREDIBLES is the first, and best Pixar film which an entire family can take in…with each taking away something special. Pixar’s best is an incredible feat.



2.       TOY STORY

3.       INSIDE OUT

4.       WALL-E

5.       CARS

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