The 10 Best Pixar Movies

Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios

Nearly 25 years after the release of their first feature film, Pixar is still going strong, creating animated movies that stir critics and audiences alike on a regular basis. Their newest film, Toy Story 4, arrives in theaters this weekend; earlier this week, a “surprise” Pixar film called Soul was given a release date of next summer. If the studio’s past is any indication, it’ll be a good one.

Narrowing their movies down to the 10 best is hard, but hey, shying away from difficult tasks isn’t the Pixar style.

1. Coco (2017)

The story of a music-obsessed young boy who enters the Land of the Dead in order to find his ancestor, a legendary singer, Coco found wide appeal both inside and outside of America. In Mexico, where the film is set, it did particularly well, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2017 by a wide margin. (In the United States, it was the 13th highest-grossing film of the year.) Interestingly, it was also one of the highest-grossing Hollywood films of the year in China. Why is that so interesting? Because China’s government is very strict about what international movies it lets screen in its theaters. One of its rules: No ghosts. Coco? Has a lot of ghosts. Still, censors were reportedly so moved by the film that they let it pass.

2. Finding Nemo (2003)

In 2003, Finding Nemo became the first Pixar film—and only the third film ever, after Shrek and Spirited Away—to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. As is typical with animated films, it has two directors: In this case, Pixar mainstays Lee Unkrich and Andrew Stanton, the latter a relatively new director at the time whose only feature credit was as a co-helmer on Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. It was Stanton who presented an hour-long pitch to Pixar head John Lasseter so that he could make the film. Lasseter, a fan of scuba diving, responded: You had me at 'fish.'"

3. The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles was the first outing at Pixar for director Brad Bird, who had previously directed the now-classic animated film The Iron Giant. Subsequently, Bird directed two other films for Pixar: Ratatouille and the long-awaited The Incredibles 2. Fans have always liked reading a lot into Pixar films, a practice the company encourages with its love of Easter eggs. Take Jon Negroni’s famous Pixar Theory, for example. The Incredibles, however, gave rise to a more eclectic form of theorizing that has persisted ever since the film’s release: Whether Brad Bird is a fan of Ayn Rand.

4. Luxo Jr. (1986)

Ok, ok—maybe this cheating. Luxo Jr. is not a feature film, but a short; the first created by Pixar after it became its own company. As a piece of filmmaking, it was highly influential. At the time of its release, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull noted that, "most traditional artists were afraid of the computer. They did not realize that the computer was merely a different tool in the artist's kit but instead perceived it as a type of automation that might endanger their jobs. Luckily, this attitude changed dramatically in the early '80s with the use of personal computers in the home. The release of our Luxo Jr., ... reinforced this opinion turnaround within the professional community." Luxo Jr. lives on as part of Pixar’s logo. In 2014, it became one of three Pixar films to be included on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry.

5. Ratatouille (2007)

Ratatouille, Brad Bird's second Pixar film, centered around an unlikely protagonist: a rat who dreams of being a world-class chef. The concept of food prepared by a rodent might (ok, does) seem gross, but Ratatouille’s charm made it work. In fact, according to one British pet supply retailer, demand for pet rats increased by 50 percent following the film's release.

6. Toy Story (1995)

This is the movie that started it all. Released in 1995, Toy Story was Pixar's first-ever full-length animated movie. At that time, the Oscar for Best Animated Feature didn't exist, and a five-picture cap on the Best Picture category contributed to a lack of animated nominees. (Only one, Beauty and the Beast, had been nominated for Best Picture up to that point.) However, the Academy was so impressed by Pixar that they gave its director John Lasseter a Special Achievement Oscar "for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film."

7. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Toy Story 2 almost didn’t exist. Or, rather, it almost had a much harder road in getting to the big screen. During production, an employee accidentally deleted the film from the internal system. What kept Pixar from having to do everything over is the lucky fact that another employee on maternity leave had saved a backup copy to work on at home. This unlucky—but not nearly as unlucky as it could have been—event is the subject of one of Pixar’s famous Easter eggs in Toy Story 4: one of the cars in the opening sequence has a license plate that reads RM-R-F*—the keyboard command that almost sent Toy Story 2 into oblivion.

8. Toy Story 3 (2010)

For almost a decade, it looked like Toy Story 3 was to going to bring an end to the story of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toys that helped usher Pixar into prominence. If it had been the end, it wouldn’t have been a bad one; the third film in the series was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and became the highest-grossing film of 2010. And who can forget the scene of Woody and the rest, plastic hands clasped, sliding into the landfill incinerator? Kleenex, please.

9. Up (2009)

Ah, Up: The film that caused both children and adults the world over (but let’s be real, mostly adults on this one) to break out into heaving sobs. This, of course, was because of the montage depicting the romance of Carl, the curmudgeonly old man at the movie’s center, and his late wife Ellie. Originally, the scene was a lot less sad and a lot more ... well, violent. That’s because running through the montage was a sort of “punching contest,” established when Ellie and Carl first met as children. “So instead of seeing them sweetly become old, they basically punched themselves old,” co-director Bob Peterson said. “We thought it was the funniest thing.” Test audiences, however, did not, and the scene was changed.

10. Wall·E (2008)

Pixar ventured into sci-fi—or I guess we should say “went to infinity and beyond”—with 2008’s WALL·E, about a trash compactor robot who finds love. At one point during the screenwriting process, the film was going to have even more of a sci-fi feel. In WALL·E , the eponymous robot ends up on a spaceship inhabited by humans that have grown unable to move under their own power or do much of anything without the assistance of machines. In an earlier version of the story, according to director Andrew Stanton, “I actually went so weird I made them like big blobs of Jell-O, because I thought Jell-O was funny and they would just sort of wiggle and stuff. There was sort of a Planet of the Apes conceit where they didn't even know they were humans anymore and they found that out, but it was so bizarre I had to pull back. I needed some more grounding."

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

16 Biting Facts About Fright Night

William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
William Ragsdale stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Charley Brewster is your typical teen: he’s got a doting mom, a girlfriend whom he loves, a wacky best friend … and an enigmatic vampire living next door.

For more than 30 years, Tom Holland’s critically acclaimed directorial debut has been a staple of Halloween movie marathons everywhere. To celebrate the season, we dug through the coffins of the horror classic in order to discover some things you might not have known about Fright Night.

1. Fright Night was based on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Or, in this case, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire." “I started to kick around the idea about how hilarious it would be if a horror movie fan thought that a vampire was living next door to him,” Holland told TVStoreOnline of the film’s genesis. “I thought that would be an interesting take on the whole Boy Who Cried Wolf thing. It really tickled my funny bone. I thought it was a charming idea, but I really didn't have a story for it.”

2. Peter Vincent made Fright Night click.

It wasn’t until Holland conceived of the character of Peter Vincent, the late-night horror movie host played by Roddy McDowall, that he really found the story. While discussing the idea with a department head at Columbia Pictures, Holland realized what The Boy Who Cried Vampire would do: “Of course, he's gonna go to Vincent Price!” Which is when the screenplay clicked. “The minute I had Peter Vincent, I had the story,” Holland told Dread Central. “Charley Brewster was the engine, but Peter Vincent was the heart.”

3. Peter Vincent is named after two horror icons.

Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.

4. The Peter Vincent role was intended for Vincent Price.

Roddy McDowall in Fright Night (1985)
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

“Now the truth is that when I first went out with it, I was thinking of Vincent Price, but Vincent Price was not physically well at the time,” Holland said.

5. Roddy McDowall did not want to play the part like Vincent Price.

Once he was cast, Roddy McDowall made the decision that Peter Vincent was nothing like Vincent Price—specifically: he was a terrible actor. “My part is that of an old ham actor,” McDowall told Monster Land magazine in 1985. “I mean a dreadful actor. He had a moderate success in an isolated film here and there, but all very bad product. Basically, he played one character for eight or 10 films, for which he probably got paid next to nothing. Unlike stars of horror films who are very good actors and played lots of different roles, such as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, this poor sonofabitch just played the same character all the time, which was awful.”

6. It took Holland just three weeks to write the Fright Night script.

And he had a helluva good time doing it, too. “I couldn’t stop writing,” Holland said in 2008, during a Fright Night reunion at Fright Fest. “I wrote it in about three weeks. And I was laughing the entire time, literally on the floor, kicking my feet in the air in hysterics. Because there’s something so intrinsically humorous in the basic concept. So it was always, along with the thrills and chills, something there that tickled your funny bone. It wasn’t broad comedy, but it’s a grin all the way through.”

7. Tom Holland directed Fright Night out of "self-defense."

By the time Fright Night came around, Holland was already a Hollywood veteran—just not as a director. He had spent the past two decades as an actor and writer and he told the crowd at Fright Fest that “this was the first film where I had sufficient credibility in Hollywood to be able to direct ... I had a film after Psycho 2 and before Fright Night called Scream For Help, which … I thought was so badly directed that [directing Fright Night] was self-defense. In self-defense, I wanted to protect the material, and that’s why I started directing with Fright Night."

8. Chris Sarandon had a number of reasons for not wanting to make Fright Night.

Chris Sarandon stars in 'Fright Night' (1985)
Chris Sarandon stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

At the Fright Night reunion, Chris Sarandon recalled his initial reaction to being approached about playing vampire Jerry Dandrige. "I was living in New York and I got the script,” he explained. “My agent said that someone was interested in the possibility of my doing the movie, and I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I can do a horror movie. I can’t do a vampire movie. I can’t do a movie with a first-time director.’ Not a first-time screenwriter, but first-time director. And I sat down and read the script, and I remember very vividly sitting at my desk, looked over at my then wife and said, ‘This is amazing. I don’t know. I have to meet this guy.’ And so, I came out to L.A. And I met with Tom [Holland] and our producer. And we just hit it off, and that was it.”

9. Jerry Dandridge is part fruit bat.

After doing some research into the history of vampires and the legends surrounding them, Sarandon decided that Jerry had some fruit bat in him, which is why he’s often seen snacking on fruit in the film. When asked about the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Sarandon commented on how much he appreciated that that specific tradition continued. “In this one, it's an apple, but in the original, Jerry ate all kinds of fruit because it was just sort of something I discovered by searching it—that most bats are not blood-sucking, but they're fruit bats,” Sarandon told io9. “And I thought well maybe somewhere in Jerry's genealogy, there's fruit bat in him, so that's why I did it.”

10. William Ragsdale learned he had booked the part of Charley Brewster on Halloween.

William Ragsdale had only ever appeared in one film before Fright Night (in a bit part). He had recently been considered for the role of Rocky Dennis in Mask, which “didn’t work out,” Ragsdale recalled. “But a few months later, [casting director] Jackie Burch tells me, ‘There’s this movie I’m casting. You might be really right for it.’ So, I had this 1976 Toyota Celica and I drove that through the San Joaquin valley desert for four or five trips down for auditioning. And in the last one, Stephen [Geoffreys] was there, Amanda [Bearse] was there and that’s when it happened. I had read the script and at the time I had been doing Shakespeare and Greek drama, so I read this thing and thought, ‘Well, God, this looks like a lot of fun. There’s no … iambic pentameter, there’s no rhymes. You know? Where’s the catharsis? Where’s the tragedy?’ … I ended up getting a call on Halloween that they had decided to use me, and I was delighted.”

11. Not being Anthony Michael Hall worked in Stephen Geoffreys's favor.

In a weird way, it was by not being Anthony Michael Hall that Stephen Geoffreys was cast as Evil Ed. “I actually met Jackie Burch, the casting director, by mistake in New York months before this movie was cast and she remembered me,” Geoffreys shared at Fright Fest. “My agent sent me for an audition for Weird Science. And Anthony Michael Hall was with the same agent that I was with, and she sent me by mistake. And Jackie looked at me when I walked into the office and said, ‘You’re not Anthony Michael Hall!’ and I’m like ‘No!’ But anyway, I sat down and I talked to Jackie for a half hour and she remembered me from that interview and called my agent, and my agent sent me the script while I was with Amanda [Bearse] in Palm Springs doing Fraternity Vacation, and I read it. It was awesome. The writing was incredible.”

12. Evil Ed wanted to be Charley Brewster.

Stephen Geoffreys stars in 'Fright Night' (1985).
Stephen Geoffreys stars in Fright Night (1985).
Columbia Pictures

Geoffreys loved the script for Fright Night. “I just got this really awesome feeling about it,” he said. “I read it and thought I’ve got to do this. I called my agent and said ‘I would love to audition for the part of Charley Brewster!’ [And he said] ‘No, Steve, you’re wanted for the part of Evil Ed.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me? Why? I couldn’t… What do they see in me that they think I should be this?' Well anyway, it worked out. It was awesome and I had a great time.”

13. Fright Night's original ending was much different.

The film’s original ending saw Peter Vincent transform into a vampire—while hosting “Fright Night” in front of a live television audience.

14. A ghost from Ghostbusters made a cameo in Fright Night.

Visual effects producer Richard Edlund had recently finished up work on Ghostbusters when he and his team began work on Fright Night. And the movie gave them a great reason to recycle one of the library ghosts they had created for Ghostbusters—which was deemed too scary for Ivan Reitman's PG-rated classic—and use it as a vampire bat for Fright Night.

15. Fright Night's cast and crew took it upon themselves to record some DVD commentaries.

Because the earliest DVD versions of Fright Night contained no commentary tracks, in 2008 the cast and crew partnered with Icons of Fright to record a handful of downloadable “pirate” commentary tracks about the making of the film. The tracks ended up on a limited-edition 30th anniversary Blu-ray of the film, which sold out in hours.

16. Vincent Price loved Fright Night.


Columbia Pictures

Holland had the chance to meet Vincent Price one night at a dinner party at McDowall’s. And the actor was well aware that McDowall’s character was based on him. “I was a little bit embarrassed by it,” Holland admitted. “He said it was wonderful and he thought Roddy did a wonderful job. Thank God he didn’t ask why he wasn’t cast in it.”

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