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."

Watch John Krasinski Interview Steve Carell About The Office's 15th Anniversary

John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
NBC Universal, Inc.

The Office just passed a major milestone: It has been 15 years since the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's hit British sitcom made its way to NBC, where it ran for nine seasons. To celebrate the show's big anniversary, former co-stars John Krasinski and Steve Carell reunited in the best way possible: Carell appeared as a guest on Krasinski's new YouTube show, where the two decided to spread some positivity.

Krasinski just launched his very own news show titled Some Good News, and it's exactly what we've all been needing. During this segment, he interviewed Carell via video call, and the two shared their favorite memories of working on the beloved workplace comedy.

"It's such a happy surprise," Carell said of The Office's continued success. "After all these years people are still tuning in and finding it." The two also addressed the question that's been on every fan's mind: is there a chance that we'll see the Dunder Mifflin crew reunite in some way?

"Listen, I know everyone's talking about a reunion," Krasinski said. "Hopefully one day we'll just all get to reunite as people."

You can watch the full episode below. (Carell joins the video around the 5:50 minute mark.)

15 Facts About John Brown, the Real-Life Abolitionist at the Center of The Good Lord Bird

John Brown, circa 1846.
John Brown, circa 1846.
Augustus Washington/Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859, was meant to start an armed slave revolt, and ultimately end slavery. Though Brown succeeded in taking over the federal armory, the revolt never came to pass—and Brown paid for the escapade with his life.

In the more than 160 years since that raid, John Brown has been called a hero, a madman, a martyr, and a terrorist. Now Showtime is exploring his legacy with an adaption of James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. Like the novel it’s based on, the miniseries—which stars Ethan Hawke—will cover the exploits of Brown and his allies. Here's what you should know about John Brown before you watch.

1. John Brown was born into an abolitionist family on May 9, 1800.

John Brown was born to Owen and Ruth Mills Brown in Torrington, Connecticut, on May 9, 1800. After his family relocated to Hudson, Ohio (where John was raised), their new home would become an Underground Railroad station. Owen would go on to co-found the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society and was a trustee at the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, one of the first American colleges to admit black (and female) students.

2. John Brown declared bankruptcy at age 42.

At 16, Brown went to school with the hope of becoming a minister, but eventually left the school and, like his father, became a tanner. He also dabbled in surveying, canal-building, and the wool trade. In 1835, he bought land in northeastern Ohio. Thanks partly the financial panic of 1837, Brown couldn’t satisfy his creditors and had to declare bankruptcy in 1842. He later tried peddling American wool abroad in Europe, where he was forced to sell it at severely reduced prices. This opened the door for multiple lawsuits when Brown returned to America.

3. John Brown's Pennsylvania home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania
The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometime around 1825, Brown moved himself and his family to Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, where he set up a tannery and built a house and a barn with a hidden room that was used by slaves on the run. Brown reportedly helped 2500 slaves during his time in Pennsylvania; the building was destroyed in 1907 [PDF], but the site, which is now a museum that is open to the public, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Brown moved his family back to Ohio in 1836.

4. After Elijah Lovejoy's murder, John Brown pledged to end slavery.

Elijah Lovejoy was a journalist and the editor of the St. Louis/Alton Observer, a staunchly anti-slavery newspaper. His editorials enraged those who defended slavery, and in 1837, Lovejoy was killed when a mob attacked the newspaper’s headquarters.

The incident lit a fire under Brown. When he was told about Lovejoy’s murder at an abolitionist prayer meeting in Hudson, Brown—a deeply religious man—stood up and raised his right hand, saying “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery."

5. John Brown moved to the Kansas Territory after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which decreed that it would be the people of Kansas and Nebraska who would decide if their territories would be free states or slave states. New England abolitionists hoping to convert the Kansas Territory into a Free State moved there in droves and founded the city of Lawrence. By the end of 1855, John Brown had also relocated to Kansas, along with six of his sons and his son-in-law. Opposing the newcomers were slavery supporters who had also arrived in large numbers.

6. John Brown’s supporters killed five pro-slavery men at the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre.

A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry
A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 21, 1856, Lawrence was sacked by pro-slavery forces. The next day, Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Senator from Massachusetts, was beaten with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor until he lost consciousness. (A few days earlier, Sumner had insulted Democratic senators Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler in his "Crime Against Kansas" speech; Brooks was a representative from Butler’s state of South Carolina.)

In response to those events, Brown led a group of abolitionists into a pro-slavery settlement by the Pottawatomie Creek on the night of May 24. On Brown’s orders, five slavery sympathizers were forced out of their houses and killed with broadswords.

Newspapers across the country denounced the attack—and John Brown in particular. But that didn't dissuade him: Before his final departure from Kansas in 1859, Brown participated in many other battles across the region. He lost a son, Frederick Brown, in the fighting.

7. John Brown led a party of liberated slaves all the way from Missouri to Michigan.

In December 1858, John Brown crossed the Kansas border and entered the slave state of Missouri. Once there, he and his allies freed 11 slaves and led them all the way to Detroit, Michigan, covering a distance of more than 1000 miles. (One of the liberated women gave birth en route.) Brown’s men had killed a slaveholder during their Missouri raid, so President James Buchanan put a $250 bounty on the famed abolitionist. That didn’t stop Brown, who got to watch the people he’d helped free board a ferry and slip away into Canada.

8. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was meant to instigate a nationwide slave uprising.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and 18 men—including five African Americans—seized control of a U.S. armory in the Jefferson County, Virginia (today part of West Virginia) town of Harpers Ferry. The facility had around 100,000 weapons stockpiled there by the late 1850s. Brown hoped his actions would inspire a large-scale slave rebellion, with enslaved peoples rushing to collect free guns, but the insurrection never came.

9. Robert E. Lee played a part in John Brown’s arrest.

Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

Shortly after Brown took Harpers Ferry, the area was surrounded by local militias. On the orders of President Buchanan, Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee entered the fray with a detachment of U.S. Marines. The combined might of regional and federal forces proved too much for Brown, who was captured in the Harpers Ferry engine house on October 18, 1859. Ten of Brown's men died, including two more of his sons.

10. John Brown was put on trial a week after his capture.

After his capture, Brown—along with Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Shields Green, and John Copeland—was put on trial. When asked if the defendants had counsel, Brown responded:

"Virginians, I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial: but, under no circumstances whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment, without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel: I have not been able to advise with anyone ... I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery of a trial—no insult—nothing but that which conscience gives, or cowardice would drive you to practice. I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial."

Brown would go on to plead not guilty. Just days later, he was found “guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising with slaves and others to rebel, and murder in the first degree” and was sentenced to hang.

11. John Brown made a grim prophecy on the morning of his death.

On the morning of December 2, 1859, Brown passed his jailor a note that read, “I … am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood.” He was hanged later that day.

12. Victor Hugo defended John Brown.

Victor Hugo—the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was also an abolitionist—penned an open letter on John Brown’s behalf in 1859. Desperate to see him pardoned, Hugo wrote, “I fall on my knees, weeping before the great starry banner of the New World … I implore the illustrious American Republic, sister of the French Republic, to see to the safety of the universal moral law, to save John Brown.” Hugo’s appeals were of no use. The letter was dated December 2—the day Brown was hanged.

13. Abraham Lincoln commented on John Brown's death.

Abraham Lincoln, who was then in Kansas, said, “Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right.”

14. John Brown was buried in North Elba, New York.

John Brown's gravesite in New York
John Brown's gravesite in New York.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1849, Brown had purchased 244 acres of property from Gerrit Smith, a wealthy abolitionist, in North Elba, New York. The property was near Timbuctoo, a 120,000-acre settlement that Smith had started in 1846 to give African American families the property they needed in order to vote (at that time, state law required black residents to own $250 worth of property to cast a vote). Brown had promised Smith that he would assist his new neighbors in cultivating the mountainous terrain.

When Brown was executed, his family interred the body at their North Elba farm—which is now a New York State Historic Site.

15. The tribute song "John Brown's Body" shares its melody with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

It didn’t take long for Brown to become a martyr. Early in the 1860s, the basic melody of “Say Brothers Will You Meet Us,” a popular camp hymn, was fitted with new lyrics about the slain abolitionist. Titled “John Brown’s Body,” the song spread like wildfire in the north—despite having some lines that were deemed unsavory. Julia Ward Howe took the melody and gave it yet another set of lyrics. Thus was born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a Union marching anthem that's still widely known today.

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