My review of Monsters University will be up tomorrow but for now, let's revive our supposedly weekly (ahem) series Posterized to look back at all 13 Pixar Features and discuss their chronology and, the fun part, their hierarchy. AND... I just keep gilding this CGI lily, how they compare to the first 13 DISNEY Animated Features. Yep, throwing a little curveball into the frequent "ranking Pixar" conversations, I am.
Toy Story (1995) 3 Oscar nominations. Won an Honorary Oscar. Basically changed the (showbiz) world forever. [my ten favorite moments from this classic]
A Bugs Life (1998) 1 Oscar nomination (Score, Musical or Comedy)
Toy Story 2 (1999) 1 Oscar nomination (Song). It was right about here that people started arguing for an Animated Feature Oscar category (Tarzan and The Iron Giant were also released this year) but that wouldn't happen for another couple of years.
Monsters, Inc (2001) 4 Oscar Nominations, 1 Win but lost the first Animated Feature Oscar to Shrek which, for a long time, felt like a terrible tragedy, both because it was a far better film and because Pixar is basically responsible for the category being created at all.
Finding Nemo (2003) 4 Oscar Nominations, 1 Win. Massive (that's not even a big enough word) hit that temporarily overtook the Toy Story franchise as Pixar's crown jewel and calling card.
The Incredibles (2004) 4 Oscar Nominations, 2 Wins. And the title says it.
Cars (2006) 2 Oscar Nominations and the company's first lemon (though people were hugely forgiving at the time given the mass hysteria of the first decade of Pixar mania)
Ratatouille (2007) 5 Oscar Nominations, 1 win.
Wall•E (2008) 6 Oscar Nominations, 1 win. The artistic pinnacle. I will not be budged from this position. People gripe about The Dark Knight missing a Best Picture nomination this year but the real tragedy was this Masterpiece of Artistically Ambitious Blockbuster Cinema missing the cut.
Up (2009) 5 Oscar nominations including Best Picture (newly expanded category), 2 wins.
Toy Story 3 (2010) 5 Oscar nominations including Best Picture (expanded category), 2 wins. I warned people at the time that Pixar would shamelessly exploit/destroy the hugely moving finale by returning to the characters immediately and it didn't take long to be proven right though it still saddens me greatly that I was right.
Cars 2 (2011) the first Pixar movie to miss an Oscar nomination since the creation of the Animated Feature category and the first to not win raves.
Brave (2012) 1 Oscar nomination and win... and kind of a surprise win. A better film than many people give it credit for being but you could feel the Pixar backlash really gaining ground
Monsters University (2013) Oscar fate TBD.
I'd rank them like so... with grades
- Wall•E (A)
- The Incredibles (A)
- Toy Story (A)
- Ratatouille (A-)
- Monsters, Inc (A-/B+)
- Toy Story 3 (B+)
- Up (B+)
- Finding Nemo (B ?... I never quite loved this one but I know I'm supposed to.)
- Brave (B)
- Toy Story 2 (the only one I have trouble remembering... haven't seen it since opening weekend)
- A Bug's Life (B-)
- Cars (C)
- Monsters University (C-)
- Cars 2 (D+)
Now that it's no longer sacrilige to wonder if Pixar maybe isn't the greatest movie studio of all time, I began to think about their adoptive parent company's early days. Disney made many animated classics too and that empire was built on a great foundation itself or it wouldn't have become the world dominating corporation it now is.
So let's look at Disney's early days. Can you even compare them?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 1 Oscar nomination. Won Honorary Oscar. Basically changed the (showbiz) world forever. discussed last year
Pinnocchio (1940) 2 Oscar nominations and wins.
Fantasia (1940) just discussed
Dumbo (1941) 2 Oscar nominations, 1 win.
Bambi (1942) 3 Oscar nominations.
So far so comparable in terms of shockingly consistent quality and hugely beloved films with memorable characters and obvious artistic ambitions ... though Disney was adapting rather than creating original stories.
But then it becomes difficult to know how to compare the filmographies. In 1941 the USA joined World War II (already in progress) and with much of the staff gone to war and the studio in financial trouble they turned their attention to supporting the war efforts as well as producing less expensive to produce package films -- six of them consecutively from 1942 through 1949 (Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad). And then in 1950 they finally got back to traditional business.
Cinderella (1950) 3 Oscar Nominations
Alice in Wonderland (1951) 1 Oscar Nomination
Peter Pan (1953) No Oscar attention
Lady and the Tramp (1955) No Oscar attention
Which takes us through Disney's first 18 years of animated feature-making! What do you make of this comparison? Please note that Disney's next animated feature was Sleeping Beauty (1959), a bonafide masterpiece. Will The Good Dinosaur (2014) be able to say the same?