Since 1995, Pixar Animation Studios has set the standard for computer-animated films. The studio’s movies have won numerous Oscars and made billions of dollars at the box office. Here are the best Pixar movies to stream on Disney+.
Toy Story 2
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Pixar brings the dead to life in the gorgeously animated Coco. Set during the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos, Coco follows 12-year-old Miguel as he inadvertently activates a family curse and is sent to the afterlife. He has to find his way back to the land of the living while uncovering secrets about his family history.
Coco is a colorful, heartfelt, music-infused exploration of family legacy, with a lovely, catchy Oscar-nominated theme song from superstar songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
Andrew Stanton’s undersea adventure Finding Nemo spoke to a lot of parents even more than their children, with its story about a desperate father trying to find his lost son. That father, Marlin (Albert Brooks), is a clownfish, and his efforts to reunite with his son Nemo take him across the Pacific Ocean. Finding Nemo is funny, exciting, and sometimes heartbreaking, with a memorable supporting performance from Ellen DeGeneres as a loyal but forgetful blue tang named Dory.
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Superhero movies dominate the box office these days, and Pixar created one of the best examples of the genre as an entirely original story in The Incredibles. The title characters are a family of superheroes who must adjust to normal life when the government bans the use of superpowers.
That doesn’t last for long, though, since they’re forced to come out of hiding to face a new threat. The Incredibles celebrates the wonder of superheroes with a fast-paced story mixing action and suspense with family togetherness.
Probably the only children’s movie ever made about the value of sadness, Inside Out is an insightful portrayal of the swirling mix of emotions everyone deals with. In particular, the movie takes place inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley as she adjusts to a new home and new school.
Riley’s anthropomorphized emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust battle each other for dominance, until they learn to coexist. Inside Out creates a fully realized internal world, with rich metaphors for life experiences.
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A silly premise leads to some profound revelations in Ratatouille. Patton Oswalt voices Remy, a Parisian rat who longs to become a gourmet chef, scorning the literal trash that his family members eat. He gets his chance when he teams up with bumbling young cook Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano), guiding Alfredo’s every move. It’s a goofy idea that provides for plenty of humor, but it also speaks to the emotional power of food, especially in relation to formidable restaurant critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole).
What if you died without ever having truly lived? That’s the heady question that Pixar explores in Soul, about a jazz pianist who finds meaning in his life only after he’s dead. Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) joins with an unborn soul designated 22 (Tina Fey) to escape back to Earth and reclaim his life.
The jazz influences extend to the movie’s lively visuals, and music inspires Joe’s renewed zest for living. Foxx and Fey have great comedic chemistry, as two very different characters learning how to appreciate being human.
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Toy Story 2
The first Toy Story was Pixar’s debut feature, announcing the company as a pioneer in the field of computer animation. But Toy Story 2 showed off the studio’s masterful storytelling alongside its technical achievements, with an affecting narrative that reflects on growing up. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all of Andy’s other toys worry about their fates as their owner gets older. When Woody is stolen by a greedy collector, the toys must team up to rescue him, in a thrilling sequence.
Puberty is tough enough without turning into a giant red panda at inopportune moments, but that’s just what poor Chinese-Canadian teenager Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang) has to deal with in Turning Red. Like all female members of her family, she starts transforming whenever she feels heightened emotions, which of course is something that happens all the time when you’re 13. Turning Red is a smart, hilarious coming-of-age allegory, telling a specific story set in 2002 Toronto that has universal appeal.
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The opening sequence of Up is justifiably one of Pixar’s most famous moments, condensing the entire lifelong relationship of Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and his late wife Ellie into a few beautiful, heartbreaking minutes.
The rest of the movie is less melancholy, following the elderly Carl and his eight-year-old neighbor to a remote South American jungle, to which they travel via balloons tied to Carl’s house. There’s a talking dog, an evil hunter, and an awkward bird, adding up to a colorful, oddball adventure.
There’s a certain purity to making an animated movie like WALL-E with almost no dialogue. The title character is a lonely robot, stuck on a future Earth abandoned by humans. All WALL-E does all day is clean up trash, collecting special items that he keeps for himself.
That changes when he falls in love with sleek new robot EVE, and the two eventually help bring Earth back to life. Director Andrew Stanton draws on the work of silent-movie comedians for the robots’ interactions, while telling a story filled with hope.
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