In 1995, Disney and Pixar came together to completely change the way that animated movies are presented to audiences. Not since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 had animated films undergone such a total change. Over the years, the relationship between Disney and Pixar has provided billions of people around the globe with some of the most beloved stories and characters in the history of film. With the revolutionary CG animation base replacing the traditional 2D animation that had been an earmark of Disney movies for decades, animation suddenly came to life. Over the course of the last 25-plus years, Disney and Pixar have released dozens of movies. Here is our (completely subjective) list of the top seven.
While the sequel didn’t receive much critical acclaim, the first Cars, released in 2006 introduced us to plenty of beloved characters, most notably Lightning McQueen. The story, which revolves around Lightning’s internal struggle between seeking worldwide fame and helping out a new group of eccentric (yet lovely) friends is the classic tale of doing the right thing or seeking personal gratification. The film has an overall laid-back feel that goes from the slow-paced storyline into the animation itself. No, Cars isn’t one of the greatest animated films ever made, but it’s a fine film for what it is: a Disney and Pixar film that teaches a good story while creating some endearing character.
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It’s possible that others wouldn’t have Soul so high on a list of Disney and Pixar movies, but let’s take a look at not only what the movie was about, but when it came out. The overall theme of the movie is based around the idea that life is what happens while you’re making plans. Additionally, the movie teaches that if you wait for life to become perfect before you really start living, you’ll miss it. While that’s a powerful lesson, it’s also worth pointing out that it was released in October of 2020, while the entire world was battling the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did the animation team do a great job of animating the afterlife, but the story that this movie tells plants it firmly near the top of our list.
While we’re dealing with heavy themes in Disney and Pixar movies, let’s go ahead and talk about the classic that is Up. The movie follows the adventure of a 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (voiced by the late Ed Asner) who is fulfilling a promise to his late wife by tying balloons to the house and letting the wind carry him to South America. While Carl was hesitant to go, driven to stay inside by his grief, he is deemed a public menace and ordered to a resting house. In order to escape, he flies his home to South America. Joined by Russell, Carl learns that there is life on the other side of the pain experienced by losing his wife.
This masterpiece is completely revolutionary right from the start. There is absolutely no dialogue within the first thirty minutes of the movie. Additionally, Disney and Pixar, who have created countless beloved characters over the years managed to make audiences fall in love with a robot. It could be argued that Wall-E is the most beloved robot since C3PO and R2-D2. The movie serves as a critique on the wastefulness and apathy that is so prevalent in modern society, but it also serves as a beautiful love story between Wall-E and EVE. Oddly enough, it’s a love story between two characters, neither of whom speak in complete sentences. Wall-E is also beloved because he’s not a typical Disney hero (or anti-hero). Instead, he’s simply a character who is in love. His kindness makes him a Disney hero.
Released all the way back in 2003, Finding Nemo was Pixar’s fifth feature film distributed through their Disney partnership. The story opens with both love and war, as a clownfish couple (Marlin and Coral) are about to become parents to 400 baby clownfish. However, a barracuda attacks their home and kills Coral and 399 of the eggs. Marlin pledges to protect the one egg and names the baby Nemo. Born with a deformed fin due to the attack, Nemo is often overprotected to the point where he runs away from home. Over the course of the movie, Marlin and his friend Dory search for Nemo. Not only are Nemo, Marlin and Dory some of the most beloved characters in the history of Disney and Pixar movies, the morals taught in this movie, including the admonishment to “just keep swimming” are great reminders for young and old alike.
If we’re going to build a list of the best Disney and Pixar movies of all time, we’re going to end it with the movie that started it all. In 1995, animated films looked mostly the same as they had looked for the last 50-plus years. While colors may have gotten a bit bolder, the overall feel was the same. However, all of that changed when Woody, Buzz and the gang of toys in Andy’s room came into our lives. The premise of the movie was pretty simple. Andy got a Buzz Lightyear doll that he wound up liking more than his old Cowboy Woody toy. Woody’s jealousy produced some animosity between the pair, before they realized that there was room in Andy’s toybox for the both of them. Not only did Toy Story serve as a launching pad for three sequels, but it also brought us some of the most beloved characters and quotes in the history of Disney and Pixar films. Regardless of how many more movies come out of this union, there’s a good chance that the original Toy Story will last to infinity, and beyond.
All told, there have been 24 movies released through the union of Disney and Pixar. Trying to build a list of the best seven was no small feat. Were there movies that we could have included? Absolutely. The best part about these films is that everyone has a different take on what makes their favorites the best. If it’s been a while since you’ve sat down and enjoyed some of the classic films produced by Disney and Pixar, try to block out some time this weekend, gather the family and take a trip into the animated world of Disney and Pixar.