To celebrate the cinematic release of the animation studio’s 27th film, Elemental, we’ve compiled a list of our best Pixar movies that are perfect for a family night. You can watch these touching titles with a Disney+ subscription.
Since 1995’s Toy Story, Pixar has built a strong reputation as the purveyor of high-quality animations suitable for all age groups. From toys coming to life to melancholy robots roaming on a post-apocalyptic planet, the studio’s movies explored an array of creative themes and delivered meaningful messages about friendship and family.
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Best Pixar Movies
Toy Story 2
Genre: Comedy, Adventure I Year: 1999
What is it about: In the sequel, Woody (played by Tom Hanks) is kidnapped by a toy dealer who plans. It is now up to Buzz (Tim Allen) and the other toys from Andy’s room to find him and rescue him from a life of eternal boredom inside a museum.
Why do we love it: Toy Story 2 is that rare sequel that’s actually better than the original. It builds upon the characters introduced in the first movie while touching on several compelling themes. Add to that the film’s incredible animation and performances, and you have Pixar’s best movie ever released.
Genre: Comedy, Adventure I Year: 1995
What is it about: Woody (Tom Hanks) enjoys being the favourite cowboy toy belonging to a young Andy (John Morris). When the boy’s parents buy him a new Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) action figure, Woody needs to come to terms with his jealousy while helping the new addition to Andy’s toys adjust to his new home. Of course, the toys must also face off against a great evil in the form of Andy’s bullying neighbour, Sid Phillips (Erik von Detten).
Why do we love it: Not only was this film innovative for its animation style, but it also stood the test of time. The movie’s message about friendship and the reality of growing up is as poignant today as it was back in the 90s. This is also one of the first films to bring big-named voice actors such as Tim Allen and Tom Hanks to the children’s animation genre.
Genre: Comedy, Adventure I Year: 2009
What is it about: Up follows a 79-year-old (Ed Asner) balloon enthusiast who goes on an adventure after tying a bunch of balloons to his house and making it fly. Things get a bit complicated after he realizes he has a stowaway – A 10-year-old boy who hid inside the house before it took off.
Why do we love it: Up is an uplifting and touching film that shows you can achieve your dreams regardless of age. This is a heartwrenching title, so we recommend you keep a box of tissues handy.
Genre: Adventure, SciFi I Year: 2008
What is it about: WALL-E is a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class or a cleaning robot. He’s spent the past seven centuries cleaning up what was left of Earth all by his lonesome. When he spots another robot, Ava, poor WALL-E falls madly in love and decides to follow her across the universe.
Why do we love it: While this is probably among the darkest tale Pixar came up with, it’s not without charm. The top-notch animation and compelling themes make it easy to root for the sweet yet lonely little robot.
Genre: Comedy I Year: 2004
What is it about: After starting a family, Mr. Incredible had to hang up his cape and took on a 9 to 5 job. But when a vengeful villain kidnaps him, it’s up to his kids to discover their own superpowers and rescue him.
Why do we love it: What’s better than a superhero? A whole family of superheroes! This classic animation includes fun adventures and an overarching theme of the importance of family. It also includes the hilarious reasons why Mr. Incredible is simply not suited for office work.
Genre: Comedy, Adventure I Year: 2003
What is it about: This classic tale centres on the clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks), who’s overprotective of his slightly disabled son, Nemo (Alexander Gould). After Nemo gets caught by a diver, his dad goes on an epic adventure to find and rescue him from a dentist’s fish tank.
Why do we love it: Two decades on, Finding Nemo is still worthwhile animation due to its stellar cast and delightful story. When it first came out in 2003, the movie even surpassed Matrix Reloaded at the box office.
Genre: Comedy, Adventure I Year: 2012
What is it about: The movie centres on the rebellious Scottish princess, Merida (Kelly Macdonald). Unhappy with her royal duties, she seeks out an evil witch and accidentally turns her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), into a bear, which puts the entire kingdom at risk.
Why do we love it: Brave gives us a new type of Disney princess to look up to and takes an interesting spin on the hero’s journey trope. We enjoy the focus on the mother-daughter relationship and how they grow closer during their adventure. The animation on this one is stunning, particularly the protagonist’s hair, which is a character in and of itself.
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy I Year: 2020
What is it about: Onward follows two elf brothers on a quest to find a magical relic that would allow them to spend more time with their late father. The film features an all-star voice cast including Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, and Octavia Spencer.
Why do we love it: It’s a touching tale about the importance of family that features all the elements of a great Pixar movie: magic, adventure, and an important message.
Genre: Comedy, Drama I Year: 2020
What is it about: This gem of an animation movie follows the journey of an unhappy musician through the afterlife as he discovers the true meaning of life.
Why do we love it: It’s no wonder this feature received no less than three Oscar nominations. It’s the type of film that encourages viewers to follow their dreams and cherish every moment of life.
Toy Story 4
Genre: Comedy I Year: 2019
What is it about: In this instalment, Woody and his friends head on a road trip with their new owner, Bonnie. Woody comes across an old friend and has to reconsider his priorities in his life as a toy.
Why do we love it: When a fourth entry to the Toy Story franchise was announced, fans were sceptical. But the film brought a fresh new adventure for the beloved toys and gave the story the ending it deserved.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.