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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

11

Finding Dory (2016)

Though it suffers from some overly familiar caper antics, Finding Dory nobly embodies the “Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release” motto of the Marine Institute where most of the film takes place. Dory’s short-term memory loss, a source of mostly comic relief in the original, is evoked with bracing seriousness after the blue tang finally recovers a sense of where she lost track of her family. Director Andrew Stanton uses ingenious whip-pans, POV shots, and arhythmic edits to conjure both Dory’s illness and her recovery, and a new supporting cast of disabled friends realize their strengths as they help Dory recover her sense of self. Christopher Gray

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

10

Inside Out (2015)

Pixar’s most ambitious undertaking is an ironically literal-minded exploration of the figurative contours of a young girl’s mind. Director Peter Docter spends most of the film’s running time having characters explain the particulars of his conceit aloud, which quickly grows suffocating in its cleverness. The human mind resembles the PreCrime lab in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, where the harried emotions file ball-shaped experiences away in recesses via cylindrical tubes, color-coding them according to the reactions they respectively elicit. Of course, the film’s about maturity as the realization that no event triggers a singular emotion, dramatizing the girl’s blossoming awareness of nuance. There are indelible images, such as the terrifying sight of “personality islands” as they collapse into a void that symbolizes depression. But Inside Out doesn’t come alive until its moving climax, and even this is undermined by a shrilly pat ending that’s all too characteristic of Pixar. Bowen

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

9

Toy Story 2 (1999)

Toy Story 2 begins with an accidental tear of Woody’s fabric, the bust of a seam that renders the right arm of Andy’s beloved cowboy limp. Rarely—or, perhaps, never—has an animated film seen such an apparently minor wound produce such epic ripple effects. The rip prompts Andy to leave Woody behind when he departs for “Cowboy Camp,” which in turn leads to Woody accidentally ending up in the family’s yard sale, which then sees him shuffled off to evil Al’s Toy Barn, which introduces him to the rest of his hallowed “set,” as well as the notion that, like all toys, and all of us, he has a certain shelf life. To watch Toy Story 2 after having seen Toy Story 3 is to see the clues and feel the pangs of a brilliant, cohesive trilogy, which focuses, above all, on the universal, impossible need to claw for as much time as possible. What’s more, with Jessie’s crushing recollection of her former owner, and the reinforced commentary decrying the constraints of packaging, the film foreshadows Pixar’s peerless knack for modern silent storytelling and its gift for thinking outside the box. Osenlund

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

8

Toy Story (1995)

At the start, Toy Story’s power resides in the novelty of imagining what goes on when toys are left behind on their own—a thought that, clearly, introduces a vast, engaging world of possibility. The flagship Pixar film also thrives on its accessibility, and the near-universal recognition of so many of its elements, from Mr. Potato Head to the distinct childhood thrill of spending a night out at a bitchin’ place like Pizza Planet. But its grandest achievement, of course, is its triumphant riff on the boy-and-his-dog tale, which preaches the value of the symbolic bond between toy and owner, a bond reinforced by the humbling of Buzz Lightyear, who learns that, by manufacture alone, he’s no one special, but to one kid, and one family, he’s someone very special indeed. Osenlund

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