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What is the best Pixar movie?

According to our critics and local kids, what are the best and worst Pixar movies?

Of all the studios in Hollywood, almost none have matched the critical and financial success of Pixar Animation Studios. Their films consistently rate among the best reviewed by critics and audiences alike, and their movies have earned a combined $14.5 billion at the global box office.

This may come as a surprise to most, but Pixar is quietly celebrating its 35th anniversary this year since the company’s founding in Emeryville, California.

To celebrate both this anniversary and Family Day today, this movie-loving Oakville News writer and Pixar fanatic has decided to enlist the help of a team to rank every single Pixar movie from worst to best.

If you’re ready to spend a safe Family Day at home this year, almost any of Pixar’s 23 animated features would do as a marathon event or stand-alone movie night. (Every one of these titles is available for rental and purchase from various services, as is streaming on Disney+, along with a documentary about the founding of Pixar.)

But to mathematically figure out which Pixar movies Oakville truly thought were the best, I enlisted some help. Joining me first was former movie critic Dylan J. Mayberry, offering his scores and opinions to my own.

11-year-old Taylor on left, 9-year-old Riley on right
11-year-old Taylor on left, 9-year-old Riley on right
12-year-old Nicholas on left, 7-year-old Lily on right
12-year-old Nicholas on left, 7-year-old Lily on right

Being Family Day, however, it wouldn’t be complete without asking some relatives of mine, all young cousins, to give their opinions as well. I’ve received a lot of reader emails over the years criticizing my opinions reviewing kid’s films as an adult man - but for the first time ever, today the adult boys are having their opinions combined with the young girls.

First are my extended cousins Taylor (11) and Riley (9), of which I’ve personally watched half the films on this list with. Joining them too are cousins Nicholas (12) and Lily (7) - creating a team of four kids at various ages to give us a well-rounded panel of experts, audiences, kids, adults, boys, girls and movie-lovers alike.

After individual Zoom interviews with everyone, I (Tyler) asked everyone to rate every movie from a score of 0 to 10. The kids scores were averaged together, as were the critics score. To come up with our final list, we aggregated the critics and kid’s list into one to get as diverse and accurate a definitive ranking as we could.

We had a lot of fun spending time together working on this assignment and going back to a set of movies that are, in general, fairly outstanding. These are all great stories to share with your families, and many of them feature plots about families of all different kinds.

This is the perfect landscape of storytelling to enjoy this Family Day. We hope you enjoy our list, but most importantly, we hope you enjoy spending some time today - safe at home - with your families, spending some quality time together.

Ranking the Movies

Below is our list from lowest rated to highest. Placement is based on the highest combined score - an equal combination of the averages from all the critic raw scores and the averages from all the children raw scores. Ties were broken by the film with the highest individual score from anyone, regardless of age.

A table is readable at the bottom of this story with everyone's raw scores. Without further ado, here is our list...

23. CARS 2

Directed by John Lasseter, released in 2011. Combined score: 4.875 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Unsurprisingly, Cars 2 is at the bottom of the list. Of 23 movies, it's the only Pixar film with a "rotten" score on review service RottenTomatoes from critics and audiences. It stands at a 39% approval rating among critics with an average score of 5.5/10 and a mere 49% approval rating from over 100,000 audience members.

It's just confusing; letting comic relief Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) be the protagonist for this car movie (that's suddenly a spy mission?) was well-produced, but the story made little sense. Among us, 7-year-old Lily was the only defender and positive review:

Lily: "Cars 2 brings out my wild side!"

Dylan, critic: "It’s a forgettable story. Other than the secret agent thing, I don’t remember what happened."


Directed by Peter Sohn, released in 2015. Combined score: 5 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Next lowest, and the only other movie among our group of six to average a thumbs-down rating, most people forget The Good Dinosaur as it loomed in the shadow of Inside Out, which opened earlier in 2015. It's Pixar's only western, following young dinosaur Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) and his pet boy Spot trying to get home in a harsh wilderness.

The film's beauty was its best quality, with forest animation that's unbelievably real. All the girls rated it a 3.5/10 or lower, but 12-year-old Nicholas gave it a much better score:

Nicholas: “It’s adventurous. After the storm, Arlo always finds a way to get home.”

Taylor, age 11: “It was confusing because there wasn’t as much talking, especially when it’s only Arlo and Spot.”

21. CARS

Directed by John Lasseter, released in 2006. Combined score: 6.812 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

The original of the motor sports franchise, the 2006 original began the legacy of hotshot car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he found new friends in small town Radiator Springs, learning humility and how coming in first place doesn't make you a winner.

Riley, age 9: “I’m not really a big car fan, so it’s not my favourite movie.”

Dylan, critic: “The Cars world is tough to buy into - (pun intended) the mechanics are strange.”

20. CARS 3

Directed by Brian Fee, released in 2017. Combined score: 6.875 out of 10.

Movie Review for the new Pixar film CARS 3, opening in theatres June 16th, 2017.
Movie Review for the new Pixar film CARS 3, opening in theatres June 16th, 2017.

Cars 3, the surprise third and final entry in the series, beat out the original film by less than 0.07 points. It's surprisingly action-packed, and while it scored lower with the critics, the kids liked it much more. It was also Nicholas' favourite.

Nicholas, age 12: “It’s a simple story to understand. Lightning McQueen being the old timer racer, not like the new car in Cars's cool to see him complete his challenge.”

Taylor, age 11: “It’s the most fun Cars movie.”

Read Tyler's original review of Cars 3 here.


Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, released in 2012. Combined score: 7.375 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

2012's Brave is still the only Pixar film to feature a female director; it was also the first to have a female protagonist. Centuries ago in Scotland, archer and future queen Merida (Kelly Macdonald, in a great performance) must reconnect with her mother after a spell goes awry.

Merida's narrative is great fun, and the girl power is a 15/10 - the three girls gave the film higher ratings than the boys (the girls averaged 9.33/10.) What keeps Brave from being great is how the plot changes so drastically halfway through - but Merida is one of Pixar's greatest characters of any kind. She's the favourite of Lily's:

Lily, age 7: “It's my favourite because she does not want to a princess. She just wants to be an archer.”

Dylan: "The landscape and music is cool, but the second half isn't nearly as good."


Directed by John Lasseter, released in 1998. Combined score: 7.625 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Pixar's sophomore feature was big competition in the fall of 1998 when it came out within weeks of Dreamworks' CGI big movie Antz. Alas, A Bug's Life's epic of ant Flik (Dave Foley) learning the power of truth and leadership ended up more popular and commercially successful. To this day, this charming adventure is one of Pixar's most overlooked films.

Nicholas, age 12: “It’s kind of like David vs. Goliath. The small vs. big's cool how it’s like it's really about fighting for your home”.


Directed by Dan Scanlon, released in 2013. Combined score: 7.875 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

This was the third Pixar sequel (technically a prequel) in the span of three years, but after that three-year slump, Monsters University offered one of the best finales and twist endings of any Pixar film. Both Riley and Dylan commented about how great Mike Wazowski's (Billy Crystal) early story was thematically great:

Riley: “It has a really good backstory how Mike wants to be a monster and meet his dream. There’s lots of good details.”

Dylan: “This is one of the few that subverts the Pixar formula of a quest making a simple character learn they always had what they wanted.”


Directed by Lee Unkrich, released in 2010. Combined score: 8.125 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Winner of two Oscars in 2010 and Pixar's first film to gross over $1 billion, this was the biggest animated of all time for nearly four years. The story was widely thought to be the end of the toy legacy until Toy Story 4 came out two years ago, but this chapter at Sunnyside day care remains a favourite among young adults and those who were kids when the original was released.

Personally, I was surprised to see this so low on the list, especially knowing it's one of only three animated movies ever nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Oscar. With an average score of 8.1/10 (a very high score in its own right!) it shows how tough the competition was among Pixar's titles. It also scored lowest among all the Toy Story films from the kids except Taylor:

Taylor: “It was funny. There were a lot of really great characters that made the story better.”

Lily: "I forget the most of this one."

Dylan: “Up and Toy Story 3 started the evolving, secret villain. I don’t like this formula of changing personalities in villains so drastically, that's why it's lower for me.”

15. WALL-E

Directed by Andrew Stanton, released in 2008. Combined score: 8.125 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Another surprisingly low entry, this film was among the most divisive between adults and children. Of course, it was a huge hit among both groups when it first came out, staying in theatres for over six months. People couldn't get enough of Wall-E (Ben Burtt) and Eve's (Elissa Knight) intergalactic love story, going from a wasteland Earth to the Axiom ship. It's a cosmic epic about nature - both spiritually and literally.

The kids had wide-ranging opinions on this one, but young Riley admits even among the brown palette...

Riley: “The world has colourful details.”

Dylan: “This would make a great novel - just because the story is so interesting to see. It would be so different from the movie.”

Lily: “This is super weird.”


Directed by Pete Doctor, released in 2001. Combined score: 8.197 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Our introduction to monster world was, incredibly, only the fourth feature from the studio; it came out 20 years ago and launched the career of now highly-acclaimed director Pete Doctor. The original story was friends Mike and Sulley (John Goodman), monster co-workers at an energy plant of children's screams. But when they meet a young girl named Boo, they uncover a corporate scandal that will change the monster world forever.

Taylor: “I don’t understand why the monsters are so okay with scaring kids. Shouldn’t they feel more bad?”

Taylor's observation holds some truth to it, but the other kids agreed the monster antics were a lot of fun.

13. SOUL

Directed by Pete Doctor and Kemp Powers, released in 2020. Combined score: 8.375 out of 10.

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

The newest movie from Pixar was forced to premiere on Disney+ back in Christmas 2020 after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shuttered most cinemas worldwide. If you haven't yet had the chance to see the otherworldy epic of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) facing some of life's deepest questions, prepare yourself for a complex, ethereal journey.

After so many films, Soul is Pixar's first film that's not really classified as a comedy. It's funny, yes, but it's a really striking and brave new step for the studio. The kids also responded to it surprisingly well, asking some great questions of their own:

Riley: “I like how Joe gives up his life for 22 (his new friend) so she can try. It made me feel happy to see 22 learn what life was really about.”

Summing it up pretty well, Taylor observed: “A simple person can affect your life so much.”

Read Tyler's original review of Soul here.


Directed by Brad Bird, released in 2018. Combined score: 8.5 out of 10.

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Coming 14 years after the original, Incredibles 2 put flexible supermom Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) into the driver's seat, putting her front and centre of a campaign to make heroes legal again - all while the family fights the mysterious and evil Screenslaver. Our critic Dylan wisely infers some recency bias may have helped this film score slightly higher:

Dylan: “I think there’s a Marvel influence to why this is so popular with kids.”

Conversely, Nicholas affirms: “I like Jack-Jack helping the family, and Edna figuring out how he transforms.”

Read Tyler's original review of Incredibles 2 here.


Directed by Brad Bird, released in 2004. Combined score: 8.562 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Swapping places among favourites between adults and children, 2004's original The Incredibles was the ultra-cool, well-plotted, action-packed superhero movie before superheroes were cool again. It beat out it's own sequel by less than 0.1 points, saying the original adventure of the Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and the Parr family coming together to beat Syndrome packs a big punch.

Taylor: “They could’ve done more with Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack, like they do in the second movie.”

But when asked about this title, both Nicholas and Lily said together Frozone's (Samuel L. Jackson) famous line enthusiastically, in one of Pixar's most quoted moments: “WHERE is my super suit?!”


Directed by Andrew Stanton, released in 2016. Combined score: 8.625 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Just making it into the top ten is the 2016 sequel Finding Dory, following forgetful blue tang Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) as she travels to an aquarium in search of her long lost parents.

This film is really what cemented Pixar's trend of sequels putting deuteragonists from first films into the spotlight, but this was the unanimous favourite of all the non-Toy Story sequels from all six contributors. The plot is deceptively, to quote Riley, "clever", and thematically strong. Everyone also unanimously agrees baby Dory is the cutest character ever animated.

Lily: “This one's hilarious!”


Directed by John Lasseter, released in 1999. Combined score: 8.625 out of 10.


Originally intended as a low-budget, direct-to-video sequel, John Lasseter pulled off a miracle in 1999 as Pixar finished Toy Story 2, about Woody (Tom Hanks) in crisis as he meets new friends and is nearly sent to a museum. This was the studio's third ever film and made a big statement in Hollywood that Pixar was no one-trick pony. Instead, it was a consistent powerhouse of great storytellers.

Strangely, kids like this less than most. It actually is the highest scored film of all Pixar on RottenTomtoes, with a perfect 100% and averaged score of 102.6% overall. While not the clear favourite among the kids, this one was actually the #1 pick for critic Dylan:

Dylan: “This is the top of the list. It has the most memorable cast of characters by far.”

Taylor: “I thought it was kind of like a spinoff of the first Toy Story.”


Directed by Dan Scanlon, released in 2020. Combined score: 8.687 out of 10.

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Poor Onward premiered in theatres on March 6, 2020 - playing in cinemas only 11 days before the start of COVID-19 would end its theatrical run, meaning most audiences have likely seen it at home streaming on Disney+.

I wondered if some recency bias scored this among the kids, but Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley's (Chris Pratt) quest to spend one day with their day is full of everything that makes Pixar great: you'll laugh, cry (really cry) and be surprised by the imaginative designs for this modern-day fantasy world.

Nicholas: “It switches fairytales into the new century - it’s more realistic.” Nicholas also said this film had the best story of any Pixar movie.

Read Tyler's original review of Onward here.


Directed by Brad Bird, released in 2007. Combined score: 8.705 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Of all the premises for a Hollywood blockbuster and animated mega-hit, Ratatouille's is perhaps the weirdest. But it's also effective, simple, adventurous, mouth-watering and great! Remy's (Patton Oswalt) dream to be a great chef is a hilarious and hard working lesson that there is a place for all dreams in some way - and the ending monologue of dining critic Anton Ego is the greatest of any Pixar movie.

Taylor: “It’s amazing how much Remy loves food. He didn’t let other people stop him from doing what he loves.”

Nicholas: “I like how a rat can cook. The food is fun!”


Directed by Pete Doctor, released in 2015. Combined score: 8.75 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Of all modern concepts and original ideas, this is Pixar's most innovative and greatest creative success. It's a great way to approach sharing our feelings and motivations inside, teaching kids and adults alike what it means to be responsible for our own minds - taking care of ourselves and each other.

Inside Out's story of Joy (Amy Poehler) leading a team of emotions to help guide 11-year-old Riley's life is colourful, brave, high-stakes, sincere, and an emotional whallop. I'll never forget attending a preview screening in 2015 with a sold-out audience of adults. All of us, myself included, were bawling, teary messes. We loved every second of it. It's also Taylor's personal favourite:

Taylor: “I loved how Joy and Sadness went on one mission to save one girl - she was so important to them they risked they lives for her. And I miss Bing Bong!”

Riley: "I like that Riley and I have the same name."


Directed by Josh Cooley, released in 2019. Combined score: 8.875 out of 10.

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Now in the top five, Toy Story 4 scored surprisingly high across the board with all ages. The newest instalment, which sees the return of Bo Peep (Annie Potts) as the toys adjust to being in Bonnie's playroom, was questioned if it would be as good as Toy Story 3 (which had a famously definitive ending.) Alas, almost everyone was won over, and the great legacy of the toys' success continues.

Taylor: “I just loved how the toys supported Forky. Every time he tried escaping, Woody brought him back because he knew Bonnie wouldn’t be the same. He saw the connection.”

Read Tyler's original review of Toy Story 4 here.


Directed by Lee Unkrich, released in 2017. Combined score: 8.937 out of 10.

Film review for Disney and Pixar
Film review for Disney and Pixar's new animated epic COCO, opening in theatres November 22nd, 2017.

When it comes to unquestionable beauty and craftsmanship alone, Coco is an equal visual masterpiece as it is story. The fable of young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) visiting the Land of the Dead to learn more about his family and its history is a great family-centric story for the holiday today.

It's also bravely a story about musical without being a musical, but the balance of art, character, technique, music and soul make Coco a landmark in Mexican culture and truly one of Pixar's greatest achievements.

Lily: “I love the songs.”

Dylan: “Simply gorgeous. Besides Inside Out, this is the most colourful and best looking film.”

Read Tyler's original review of Coco here.


Directed by John Lasseter, released in 1995. Combined score: 9.062 out of 10.


Entering the top three, the best films all averaged a score above a 9/10 - a staggering feat among a group of audiences for a film of any genre but especially animation. The original Toy Story, Pixar's feature feature that won an honorary Academy Award for its singular achievement of succeeding at all, is the quintessential story of friendship between Woody and Buzz (Tim Allen)...and their kid, Andy. 

The miracle film that started it all has truly stood the test of time. I (Tyler) saw it on the big screen in a short release back in November 2020 to celebrate the film's 25th anniversary and it was just as thrilling as it was when I saw it as a kid. Riley was the most critical:

Riley: “It’s not the best, but not the worst. I do think it's really good.”

Dylan: “Toy Story has the most quotable lines out of every movie on this list. To infinity and beyond!”

2. UP

Directed by Pete Doctor, released in 2009. Combined score: 9.25 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

The timeless story of finding adventure and true love, Up is so much more than Carl's (Ed Asner) journey to float his house via balloon power to Paradise Falls: it's a testament to how big ideas can become timeless. The great Roger Ebert once wrote Up is “as tickling to the imagination as the magical animated films.”

When it was first released, Up was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture (becoming only the second animated movie ever to do so) and eventually winning two. Despite, Riley calling Ellie's story at the beginning “a tragic death,” Up drew universal praise from all of us.

Taylor: “It had an amazing storyline, but it was also really sad. It’s sad how she died, but Carl and Ellie look like they were really in love.”

Nicholas: “The opening scene is so good.”


Directed by Andrew Stanton, released in 2003. Combined score: 9.562 out of 10.

Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

At long last, we come to the top of our list. This was the uncontested winner, outpacing all others by a mile from all ages. A whopping four of the six contributors to this story gave it a flawless 10/10. The now classic story of Marlin (Albert Brooks) travelling across the ocean to find his son Nemo is beautiful, exciting, heartfelt and awe-inspiring. It's full of wonder and perhaps the most transporting film in Pixar's repertoire.

Best of all, it's all about family - the lengths we will go to for a family to be together. What could be a better story for Family Day? There was unending praise for Nemo:

Riley: “I like the colours; I like that it’s cute and cuddly. It's the best because of all the fish.”

Taylor: “It makes me happy and sad at the same time.”

Dylan: “As a kid, this used to be my favourite movie."

Final Data

That's our list! Do you agree with our choices? Which film are you choosing for Family Day today? (For further reading, both Fandom and Insider offer their own well-made lists.)

*Footnote: for anyone still reading and curious, the author of this story has provided his data sheet, aggregating the scores for all 23 movies from the six participants. The films are listed in order of release date, from oldest to most recent.

Tyler Collins Dylan J. M Nick Lily Taylor Riley Critics Kids Avrg. Ranking
Toy Story 10 9.5 8 10 7.5 8 9.75 8.375 9.062 3rd
A Bug's Life 9 7 7.5 n/a n/a 7 8 7.25 7.625 18th
Toy Story 2 10 10 7.5 9.5 6 6 10 7.25 8.625 9th
Monsters Inc. 9 9 7.5 9 6 7 9 7.375 8.197 14th
Finding Nemo 10 9 8.5 10 10 10 9.5 9.625 9.562 1st
The Incredibles 8.5 8.5 9.5 10 7 8 8.5 8.625 8.562 11th
Cars 8 6.5 7.5 6 6 6 7.25 6.375 6.812 21st
Ratatouille 9.5 8 10 n/a 8 8 8.75 8.666 8.705 7th
Wall-E 10 8.5 6 8 n/a 7 9.25 7 8.125 15th
Up 10 9 10 10 9 7 9.5 9 9.25 2nd
Toy Story 3 10 7.5 8.5 n/a 8 6 8.75 7.5 8.125 16th
Cars 2 5 2 8.5 4 n/a n/a 3.5 6.25 4.875 23rd
Brave 7 6 5 10 10 8 6.5 8.25 7.375 19th
Monsters University 7.5 8 6 8 n/a 10 7.75 8 7.875 17th
Inside Out 10 8.5 4 9 10 10 9.25 8.25 8.75 6th
The Good Dinosaur 7.5 4 9 3.5 1 3.5 5.75 4.25 5 22nd
Finding Dory 8.5 7 10 10 9 9 7.75 9.5 8.625 10th
Cars 3 7 6 8.5 5 8 7.5 6.5 7.25 6.875 20th
Coco 9.5 7.5 8 10 10 9.5 8.5 9.375 8.937 4th
Incredibles 2 8 7 10 8 10 10 7.5 9.5 8.5 12th
Toy Story 4 9.5 8.5 7.5 10 9 8.5 9 8.75 8.875 5th
Onward 9 6.5 10 10 9 9.5 7.75 9.625 8.687 8th
Soul 9.5 7 5.5 n/a 10 10 8.25 8.5 8.375 13th