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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

7

The Incredibles (2004)

Throughout The Incredibles, Brad Bird toasts and critiques the best and worst elements of countless James Bond and superhero flicks to suggest that Middle America is above the lies Hollywood sells the public. When called to a Dr. Evil-esque island on a top-secret mission, the film’s main character not only reclaims his lost identity, but he must also confront the effects a past transgression had on someone else’s sense of self. Like Bird’s own scene-stealing Edna “E” Bird, an Edith Head-like fashionista who designs superhero outfits, Buddy Pine’s idol worship similarly addresses a certain wishy-washy relationship between the public and its celebrity heroes. There’s plenty of soul-searching that goes on throughout The Incredibles, but the film is most successful as a defense of family: When Mrs. Parr, a.k.a. Elastigirl, comes to her husband’s rescue, Bird gets considerable emotional mileage out of the character’s continued attempts to bend (here, literally and figuratively) in order to keep her family together. The Incredibles may fight to save the world, but they teach us to know thyself. Gonzalez

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

6

Finding Nemo (2003)

Arguably the most beautiful of Pixar’s creations, the underwater quest of Finding Nemo is a work of endless wonders, whose literal sea of details can offer new discoveries with each viewing (even the varying levels of sediment are staggeringly, gorgeously specific). Like the Toy Story films, Nemo targets the evils of packaging and captivity, juxtaposing the free-swimming fish of Australia’s coastal reefs with those contained for show in a dentist’s cold, sterile office. That same notion of the ills of constraint plays out on the micro level, as clownfish Marlin needs to let go of his own confining fears, which he imposes on his lost, eponymous son. Your favorite part of this enduring masterstroke might be the current-cruising sea turtles, the Bah-ston-accented crayfish, or Geoffrey Rush’s benevolent pelican, but odds are it’s Dory, Ellen Degeneres’s amnesiac regal blue tang, one of the greatest animated characters in history. Osenlund

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

5

Toy Story 3 (2010)

The Toy Story films address the way we emotionally invest in toys, sometimes (as in Toy Story 2) even throwing in a canny bit of air-tight commentary on consumerism as a bonus for the adults in the room. Such is Pixar’s unique gift that these stories about toys fighting to be played with become, for us, confrontations with our own mortality—from birth to rot and everything in between. Though Toy Story 3 sometimes indulges the snarkiness that completely dictates the world of the inane Shrek movies, its powerhouse of an ending, proof of the company’s emotionally rich ability of telling tales that force us to grapple with our mortal coil, is so humane it disarms our qualms. Gonzalez

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

4

WALL-E (2008)

WALL-E goes beyond inviting comparisons to E.T., Number 5, R2D2, even Chaplin’s Little Tramp. The Waste Allocation Load Lifter relies on them, for writer-director Andrew Stanton understands this robot janitor as a study in memory and inheritance. The last surviving bot of a failed program meant to clean up after our bad habits, WALL-E learns about desire from a movie musical we left behind and bides his time creating buildings from our compacted trash—totems that give expression to his hunger for purpose in the same way the pyramids attest to the ancient Egyptian race’s human possibility. The robot’s loneliness is palpable not only in those soulful eyes, one of which he has to replace after it incurs great injury, but in his dogged, workaday need to clean and assemble, no doubt hoping that one day someone might notice that WALL-E Was Here. Gonzalez

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