Mid-Week Poll: Best & Worst Pixar Films

A post that Aaron wrote last week about Pixar’s upcoming animated feature ‘Brave’ sparked an interesting discussion about whether the studio has ever really produced a dud. This seems like a great opportunity to rank all of Pixar’s films to see which ones our readers like the best and which you dislike the most.

I’m setting up two separate polls here. In the first, tell us which Pixar film you think is the best. (For the purposes of this ranking, you can only choose one.)

What Is the Best Pixar Film?

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Next, tell us which you think is the worst Pixar film.

What Is the Worst Pixar Film?

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I’m sure that no one would attempt to deny that, of the eleven feature films the studio has made so far, Pixar has had a simply incredible winning streak. It has a better average for quality and consistency than any other movie studio in business today.

Picking a “best” film from this list is difficult. My instinct is to go for ‘The Incredibles‘, a movie that truly lives up to its name. But then I remember how much I also love ‘Monsters, Inc.‘ and ‘Ratatouille‘ and ‘A Bug’s Life‘, and of course the whole ‘Toy Story‘ franchise. What a touch choice!

Has Pixar really made a “dud” yet? I have a feeling that most people will select ‘Cars‘ for that unfortunate distinction. Honestly, even that isn’t really a bad film. It’s just not up to the same level as the studio’s others. ‘Cars’ is aimed at a very young audience, and lacks much appeal for adults. Unlike most other Pixar productions, ‘Cars’ is decidedly a kids’ movie, not a family film.

I’ll be honest, the Pixar movie that does the least for me is ‘Up‘. I know that it’s beloved by many and won an Oscar, but the movie just didn’t work for me. That opening scene is a lovely, emotionally wringing little short film on its own, but the balloons and talking dogs and whatnot afterwards lost my interest pretty quickly. (The second half of ‘WALL-E‘ has a similar issue, though to a lesser extent.)

So vote in our polls and tell us in the Comments what you think. Which are your favorite and least favorite Pixar movies?


  1. I’m sorry but I refuse to believe that Cars is simply a kids movie, there is a ton of adult material in that film that will easily go over kids heads, organic fuel, pin striping tattoo, the hustle and bustle of every day life and the idea that you need to enjoy life and take it easy and of course winning isnt everything, having good friends and family is a good message for everyone.

    I would agree that Cars has been the most marketable with its characters to kids, but that doesnt mean the movie is a “kids” flick, its definitely a family movie that has a great message and plenty of stuff for adults thats funny.

    The detail in Cars is fantastic too, everything from the lights, to bugs, to mountains and in between has something to do with a Car, its amazing, and while its my “favorite” Pixar movie, I think Toy Story 3 is the best one, the themes it brings across, the idea of growing up and moving on, the idea of loss, its amazing what the movie put into a family film

    For my worst I went with A Bugs Life, while I love every Pixar movie in its own way, this is the one that gets the least amount of play, something about it just doesnt resonate like the rest of their movies for me

  2. I picked Ratatouille as my worst but I think the question should be changed to least favorite PIXAR hasn’t made a bad movie. I like Toy Story the best right now but that usually changes every time i watch a Pixar movie. The Incredibles is great. Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life, WALL-E, Finding Nemo and on and on. You just can’t go wrong with any Pixar movie!

  3. Keith

    I can’t pick a best, but for me the worst is by FAR Wall-E. Absolutely hated it. It was too long, boring, and totally forgetable.

    Also totally disagree on your assessment of Cars for the same reasons Chaz mentions.

    • Alex

      Wall-E was, quite simply, one of the most beautiful, artistic, emotional, and touching movies that I have ever been privileged to see. A character who speaks no more than two words in the entire movie and yet is so expressive that not only do you know what he’s feeling, but feel it along with him makes for an absolute triumph. I wept, literally wept, when Wall-E lost his identity at the end and I nearly jumped off of my sofa and cheering when EVE brought him back. What a magnificent film. I’m sorry that you hated it, but I, personally, loved it.

  4. Lahrs

    I was going to put my .02 cents in on WALL-E, but Alex summed it up better than I could. To me, Wall-E was beyond fantastic, and truly emotional in all the right ways. Even my five year old understands the emotion in it, though admittedly on a very more scale.

    Still, I recognize not everyone will appreciate the story, and that is fair of every movie.

    My least favorite is A Bugs Life. I saw it when it was originally released and remember leaving the theater underwhelmed. When it was released on Blu-ray, I picked it up figuring my daughter may enjoy it more than I did, but after we finished watching it together, it went back on the video rack and hasn’t come back out since.

  5. Picked ‘Cars’ for the worst (or my least favorite). Picked ‘The Incredibles’ as the best although ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Up’, and the ‘Toy Story’ films are very closely behind. I just think that not only is ‘The Incredibles’ the best Pixar film, I think it’s one of the very, very best superhero films ever made.

  6. javier aleman

    There are too many that deserve first but only one that is not only bad, it was terrible, The Incredibles. I saw it once, hated it, never want to see it again.

  7. EM

    As I look at the poll votes and the comments, I’m surprised by the wide range of opinions. For example: at the moment WALL·E is the leading “best” with 34%; while I knew the film had a lot of support (I, too, love it), I didn’t expect it to be this popular.

    Voting was difficult for me. Of all the Pixar features, there are “only” five that I have deemed worthy of my video library: all three Toy Story films, Cars (which I saw for the first time at age 36 and have been a fan of since), and WALL·E. Of those, I decided I should pick the “best” from among the Toy Story films, but still it was difficult to pick just one. I decided to give the first the prize as getting points for originality (though the sequels, especially Toy Story 2, are some of the more original sequels that I have seen).

    “Worst” was also difficult. I have seen every single Pixar feature in the theater, often at full price (even though I am very attached to discount prices), and I have never felt that Pixar wasted my money or my time. Nevertheless, Pixar has made six features that I have never bothered to see a second time. While I could find something to complain about in each of these six movies, I decided to go with Up on the basis of its general undermotivated weirdness and its letdown from the promise of its spectacular beginning. Still, so far the worst from Pixar is better than about 99% of the movies out there.

  8. Ivan Gomez

    The whole Cars film seems underconstructed, like a second draft of the story, if you watch the extras on pixar films you can see how many changes one of their proyects goes by. But somehow it seems to me they didnt pay that much thought to this one… It could be me (i tend to find logic holes or incongruencies even in films i absolutely adore) but i just cant get into a mind frame where a car world can be relatable (at least not in the way it is depicted) when you have trucks that can talk and be “human like” but sedans so small that can be insects or farm machinery that can be caddle, it just seems very far fetched and not something as well thought as pixar have us used to.
    On the other hand i know a lot of people who love it and have it on dvd or blu and they are not even pixar fans or movie collectors.
    To each its own.

  9. vihdeeohfieuhl

    My decision for worst (least favorite) came down to A Bug’s Life and Cars. In the end I went with A Bug’s Life. There’s just something about it that doesn’t allow it to hold it’s own with the rest of the Pixar stable. Cars, on the other hand, is definitely not a great film by any means, but it remains a genuine Pixar through and through. Every single piece and every last detail of Cars is 100% Pixar. A Bug’s Life is the only Pixar film that could easily be mistaken as a film from another studio. I think this is the main thing that brings it down to just a notch below the rest of the lineup.

    For best Pixar film, I couldn’t decide between Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and WALL-E. Ultimately, I decided that Ratatouille is the only Pixar film solely for adults. Just think of the beautiful French musical score, the gorgeous French cuisine, and all of the stunning shots of Paris. Not to mention, it’s essentially a flawless film. If you haven’t watched Ratatouille in a while, check it out soon. It’s even better than you remember it being!

    • EM

      I was underwhelmed by Ratatouille’s use of the Paris setting. Sure, there were shots that showed the Eiffel Tower and whatnot, but scenes occurring on streets and quais did not look like they were on Paris streets and quais. It’s as though the the art design were completely done from photos found in typical tourist guides (which generally show distant aerial views, monuments, and other unusual sights) rather than by people who had actually walked around Paris. Frankly, that’s sloppy in our global age—especially in a film released by a studio that has a Disneyland Paris! (It’s not actually in Paris, but it’s fairly close…)

      On the other hand, I love the shot in which the sleeping human hero, wearing sunglasses, is puppeteered into making a big shrug of insouciance. Mon Dieu, the way that is pulled off, it is such an archetypally French gesture.

    • EM

      As for A Bug’s Life, I’m not too fond of it either. I guess there’s a lot of arbitrariness in what one accepts and rejects in anthropomorphism, but I really hated the idea of ants ordinarily having just four legs and male ants being anything other than drones. On the other hand, the upright walking didn’t bother me at all. I was ambivalent about the simple eyes and the replacement of sideways mandibles with a jaw bearing internal teeth.

      A Bug’s Life is the only Pixar film that could easily be mistaken as a film from another studio.

      I disagree—it looks like a Pixar film to me. I certainly wouldn’t confuse it with Antz.

  10. I picked Toy Story as the best, and UP as the worst, although I never got around to watching CARS (and it’s been so long since I’ve seen A Bug’s Life, I can’t remember it).

    I think The Incredibles and Ratatouille are good, but overrated (I don’t think they’re that “rewatchable”).

    As for WALL-E, I loved the first half of that movie and HATED the second half (pretty much everything after WALL-E made it to the human space station). It’s also a bit too “preachy” for my tastes. Because of the first half, I can’t rank it as the “worst” Pixar movie, but I can appreciate those who dislike it.

  11. I always thought ‘Cars’ posed too many logical problems. I know I’m thinking about it too deeply, but who makes those cars? If people are cars then why are bugs also cars? These are the weird things I think of until my head is about to explode.

    • EM

      Yeah, I get to thinking about the “biology” too but just try to push those thoughts aside. If there had been a scene with a “child” car, it very well might have ruined the movie for me.

        • EM

          Oh. OK, Cars is a big, smelly dungheap.

          Just kidding. To tell the truth: as I wrote the “child” comment, I started to wonder if there were any car kids I’d forgotten. And now that you mention it, I think I might remember what you’re describing. Probably it goes by fairly quickly, before I start thinking in depth about anthropomorphic-automobile reproduction. If Cars 2 has Mrs. Sally McQueen pregnant or caring for a newborn, that might be Pixar’s jump-the-shark moment for me.

    • Pedram

      Me too. I don’t think Wall-E was THAT bad, but it’s pretty over-rated IMO, and it totally rips off Johnny 5’s look.
      It was hard choosing my favourite since they’re all good, but I went with Cars because of all the hate it was getting. I enjoyed it and didn’t think it was too childish.

  12. Josh Zyber

    I’m also surprised to see WALL-E take such a big lead. I knew that the movie is well-liked (I like it too), but I didn’t realize it was so beloved, especially over movies like The Incredibles or any of the Toy Stories.

    I love A Bug’s Life and am disappointed to see that one so disliked in the second poll.

    Interesting that so far the first Toy Story is the only movie that no one dislikes.

    • EM

      I thought that the sequels might split the Toy Story “best” vote; but interestingly, at present the sum of the votes for all three Toy Story films is still less than the vote total in favor of WALL·E (but ahead of the #2 best, The Incredibles).

      • Wall-E has a charm about it. I like about the first half of the movie. Once they go into space, it gets corny really fast. Quite frankly, if I could vote on the first half of the movie, it would be my favorite Pixar, if I was voting on the last half, it would be my least favorite, but as a whole, I must say its right in the middle.

      • EM

        At this writing the Toy Story trilogy’s votes now beat WALL·E’s. Still, what an impressive showing by both WALL•E and The Incredibles (both of which are defeating the original Toy Story, currently at a distant third).

  13. besch64

    Wall-E is an abomination. Frankly speaking, it is one of my most hated movies not just because of how bad it is, but because of how manipulative it is. It sells itself as a cute experimental sort of film about two robots who don’t talk hanging out for a couple of hours. Sounds cool. Then the movie opens with shots of a deserted wasteland covered in discarded boxes from Wal*Mart.

    Oh dear, I know what kind of movie this is.

    Then we have all the fat people unable to walk and shit that come in later and I walk out of the theater. Pixar loses about 98% of the respect that I had for it. I didn’t come to see a cartoon Michael Moore doc. Fuck that.

    They partially made up for it with Up, which is by no means perfect or even great, but it is definitely my favorite Pixar movie.

    • Ian Whitcombe

      Besch, in your opinion do you think it would even be possible for any film to impart a pro-enviromentalist message?

      • I wonder that as well. I’m confused when people get angry that a certain message contrary to their own – whether it be sociological, political, or something else. Why can’t a movie contain a message, even an obvious one? Does every movie have to be completely void of any type of message that might be construed as preachy?

        • Ian Whitcombe

          Having a movie be preachy (political or otherwise) on an issue is one thing, but Besch’s problem with the film seems to be in the inherent scenario that the film presents, much in the way decidedly amoral and apolitical black comedies or war films are often dismissed as “vulgar”.

          Though Besch also makes note of his disgust that the film was marketed as innocuous kiddie fluff, so perhaps that is the difference.

      • besch64

        Oh man, no. I care about the environment and work to protect it more then just about anybody I know. I have no problem at all with the message, and if for some reason my initial post made it seem like that then I guess I worded it poorly.

        I do not want to go see a kids movie about two robots being friends and have to sit through two hours of preaching about ANYTHING, especially when it has nothing to do with the movie. In Avatar, for example, the environmentalist message was built in so it had a reason to be there. In Wall-E, Pixar made the arbitrary decision to set what I assumed was going to be the main point of the movie (two robots and their adventures) against a politically and socially concerned backdrop for no reason than to give themselves a platform from which to speak.

        I saw Lady Gaga perform live a few months ago, and she stopped between every song to preach about gay marriage. As much as I support gay marriage, what she was doing pissed me off. I did not come to see this. In Wall-E, the message they were trying to get across just had no place being there.

        And ignoring the fact that it didn’t belong in the movie at all, I feel that no matter how strongly one agrees with a certain message, it is ALWAYS annoying to hear somebody being overly-preachy about it.

        • EM

          I don’t care whether you like or hate this movie, but it sounds like you’re blaming the movie for not being what you wanted it to be instead of what it is. Maybe you were misled by advertising or reviews (I hate when that happens), but in that case it would be more logical to blame those sources and judge the movie on its own merits and/or demerits.

          As for the absurdity of claiming that something in the movie for two hours “has nothing to do with the movie”, it’s astonishing that the post didn’t collapse upon itself into a cognitive singularity.

          • besch64

            A) The movie is about a robot named Wall-E, who meets up with another robot named Eve. They go around and have adventures and stuff.

            B) People are fat and consume too much.

            If you can explain to me why B belongs in a movie with A then please do. There is no reason for that second plot to exist aside from the fact that Pixar wanted to make a political statement in their next movie, whether or not it’s relevant to the idea they come up with. It has NOTHING to do with the title character and his story. It does NOT belong in the movie.

            Pretend you don’t understand my reasoning all you want.

          • EM

            B belongs in a movie with A if it’s scripted thus—for example, if the society with the problem of B try to address the problem by building the robots of A. While it may not work for everybody, some people can keep track of two story elements at the same time!

            Note that you’ve shifted your claim. You’re now talking about one element of a film not relating to another element, whereas earlier you were talking about an element of a film not relating to the film itself. I was not pretending to not perceive a meaning that you were not expressing. Alas, I have neither psychic abilities nor psychotic ones.

          • I must agree with Besch on this one. A Bug’s Life didn’t go off on how these animals are thriving because humans are so wasteful. There was no reason in Wall-E for the human subplot. The begining of the movie told us well enough what happened, and we could connect the dots ourselves. We could have had exactly the same story without any humans in it. Eva arrives at Earth, her and Wall-E have some adventures, Eva eventually finds a plant, she returns to ship, ship returns to earth, end of movie.

          • EM

            William, your proposed version of the film eliminates the zero-g dance outside the main ship, which is one of the film’s most beautiful, iconic, and lauded moments. But there are a variety of other reasons for making the film as it was made, including amping up the conflict, more adventures with more robots, and exploring science-fiction ideas. You don’t have to approve of the results, but the claim that there was no reason at all behind the subplot seriously strains credibility.

          • besch64

            Well EM, considering a movie is only what’s in the movie, then obviously the movie’s whole social agenda is part of the movie.

            But, based on the name of the movie and the characters and fucking everything else there, the movie is really about Wall-E and Eve, who are not related to the “humans are fat and wasteful” garbage. That backdrop only exists because Pixar wanted to make a statement, not because it was the best idea for the movie. It’s just awful.

          • EM

            From director Andrew Stanton’s commentary (starting about 0:03:48 into the movie):

            So—a lot of people also wonder—ya know—Was there some sort of message to this movie that we were trying to say? Are we trying to be preachy or environmental or ecological? Ya know—these are all noble things to support; but to be honest, I didn’t have any agenda. I’m not that kind of a person. And pretty quiet about my political opinions about things and all that kind of stuff.

            What I had all along that Pete Docter and I had come across years and years ago—almost fifteen years ago—was the idea of a robot that was left alone on Earth and didn’t know it could stop doing what it was doing—what if it just kept doing its job for hundreds of years, having no idea it could stop?

            So, that forced me to come up with some sort of backstory that made sense. And I don’t know why—I guess we—I can’t remember where the idea came from—I think we always had a character that compacted trash. I don’t ever remember there being debate about that. It just seemed so sad—sort-of lowest on the totem pole—sort-of just like a janitorial job. We never even questioned that.

            So, then I had to think backwards. I had to sort-of reverse-engineer and go, Why would the world be covered in trash? In fact, that was the original working title of this idea: Trash Planet. We actually had that title for almost ten years. And—I don‘t know—you just kind-of look at the state of the world as it is; and you just sort-of extrapolate a little bit off of the elements that you have; and you go, Well, you know, if we keep buying too much and throwing it all away, sooner or later there won’t be enough places to put it all—and once there’s no room, what would you have to do? Well, one of the things might be that you’d have to sort-of leave the planet and make room for everything to get cleaned up so that you could kind-of move back in.

            So, we just went with that simple logic. Sadly, things just got more timely with the rest of the world as we were making this film. I really never wished anything to be that prophetic in any way. I’m sure some more jaded people won’t believe that that was all—the only reason I went there, but it really was.

            As Stanton says later in the non-succinct commentary, WALL·E is the catalyst who “wakes up” EVE and other characters, even humanity itself. Granted, these connections might be easier to make if one does not walk out prematurely in outrage due to dashed preconceptions. Sorry the film didn’t work for you.

          • Fantastic quote. Perfectly explains ‘Wall-e’ and the thought process behind it. I guess people can go on with the jaded mindset of thinking that Pixar was acting oh-so preachy and in this world of political correctness I just can’t stand if something even remotely sounds like it’s trying to teach me something. But, Stanton perfectly explains how harmless it was and how it connects the whole story.

          • besch64

            It doesn’t matter if he says he wasn’t trying to be preachy in the commentary, because the movie IS preachy. Intentions don’t matter, only the final product. If the director of Cannibal Holocaust said it was never his intention to torture animals, what difference would that make? You watch the movie and you see it on the screen. Period.

  14. Ivan Gomez

    Every pixar movie is preachy, its a kids movie after all… But lets be honest we love this particular preacher 🙂

    I think if you mix the Toy story movies in the list and ask people to vote for favorites there is no contest

  15. gharbad

    Guess im kinda strange but id rank Cars in my top 5 for sure. I think its a great film and i agree with what Chaz said in the first post.

    Ive never liked Incredibles. I never got that one and to me it felt much more like a Dreamworks movie then Pixar. I really dont get it why the message of that movie is so special compared to any other Pixar which has far more appeal and content. Very overrated in my opinion.

    My favorite will always be Nemo.

  16. javier aleman

    I didn’t like The Incredibles because it didn’t entertain me at all. The story didn’t pull me in and I didn’t care about any of the characters. I just couldn’t find the charm in it like I did the others. It felt like I was watching a Disney movie, not a Pixar movie for Disney. I take back that I hated it because I really don’t, I just care for it and its funny because I have three year old who has seen the other movies a dozen times each but has never sat through that one movie once with out getting up and living onto something else. maybe

    • EM

      I think that The Incredibles differs very much from all other Pixar features in tone, which might do much to explain its positive and negative reception. Most Pixar movies are solidly grounded in the tradition of innocuous, fluffy children’s entertainment, even if they often rise far above that ground. But The Incredibles, while not a stranger to the child-friendly tradition, seems to be more rooted in the tradition of Silver Age and later superhero comics that generally are written on the level of adolescents and adults. The tone is not a complete shift from Pixar’s usual, but it is noticeably different. While The Incredibles does not happen to be a favorite of mine, I would like to see Pixar continue to experiment with this and other tones. Of the rest of Pixar’s features, Toy Story 3 has come closest to The Incredibles’ example, but I think it’s still firmly rooted in the same tradition as its predecessors.

  17. Cars and Toy Story 3 are to date the worst Pixar movies. The Incredibles has yet to be topped by Pixar. It’s by far the best movie they’ve ever made. Give credit to Brad Bird for going in there and shaking things up a t Pixar and getting those guys out of their comfort zone, and really pushing them to the next level.

  18. EM

    It might be interesting to see the results of “best” and “worst” polls for the Pixar shorts, at least the ones attached to theatrical feature releases (i.e., the shorts most likely to be widely seen). One thing I regret about Up, my pick for worst feature, is that I really like its supporting short, “Partly Cloudy”—but I’m not likely to buy an Up Blu-ray or DVD just to get “Partly Cloudy”. With luck, maybe it will appear on a Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2. Anyway, I don’t think I’d pick “Partly Cloudy” as best. I’m not sure which I’d pick as best—Pixar has made a lot of good shorts…

  19. Jack

    The categories should be favorite and least favorite. All of the films that Pixar have made have been amazing. For me I picked Finding Nemo as the best, the animation, the story, the characters, and let’s not forget the score. My favorite is Ratatouille though. I picked Cars for the worst, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to have that Pixar magic and they’ve totally raped it for merchandise (I realize that’s probably Disney’s doing) and of all their films I think it was least deserving of a sequel.