23 years, 20 movies, hundreds of beloved characters, and dozens of tears shed. Pixar changed the game for animation when it first debuted Toy Story back in 1995. Since then the animation studio has shrunken down to insect size, turned human emotions into full-fledged characters, made cheese-loving rats cuddly and cute, imagined a human-free future with sentient cars, and taken us on journeys across the sea.

This week, Pixar delivers its 20th feature with Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2. As the superhero family takes on new bad guys, the ScreenCrush team has taken on a rather difficult mission of our own: ranking every Pixar movie. A favorite Pixar film is a personal thing, and almost every fan has a different one – there was certainly lots of heated debate over our top five choices. If anything, that speaks to the endless originality the company has surprised us with for over two decades, distinguishing itself from every other animation studio by making movies adored by both kids and adults. Without further ado, here’s every Pixar film ranked from worst to best.

20. Cars 2 (2011)
Directed by John Lasseter

No one asked for a Cars sequel. No one asked for a Cars sequel about Mater pretending to be a spy and infiltrating an international crime operation. The second Cars movie takes us out of Radiator Springs and all the way to Tokyo, Italy, and London as Lightning McQueen competes in the World Grand Prix. But because Pixar wants to make anyone who isn’t a toddler suffer, the sequel also follows Mater in a silly and convoluted espionage storyline. Cars 2 belongs at the bottom of this list because, unlike the rest of Pixar’s output, it’s an inane children’s movie made for very little children. It’s messy and uninspired, and lacks the essential ingredients that makes Pixar so unique. – E. Oliver Whitney


19. The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Directed by Peter Sohn

Several Pixar films have undergone major revisions during the writing process, but The Good Dinosaur is really the only one that feels like a bunch of different movies stitched together. (Pixar famously spent years developing one version of the film, then scrapped most of their work and went back to the drawing board with an almost entirely new cast.) The finished product pairs some of the most stunning and realistic nature animation that’s ever been made with extremely cartoonish dinosaurs — a combination that is as bizarre as it is incongruous. The almost photographic backgrounds certainly work for a story about the dangers and beauty of the wilderness, but it’s still an odd fit for a Western about a knobby-kneed dinosaur and his cuddly, dog-like human buddy. (It’s also an odd fit for this surprisingly bleak movie about death, grief, and anger.) The Good Dinosaur isn’t the worst Pixar, but it’s certainly the strangest. And in a world where Cars 2 exists, that’s really saying something. – Matt Singer


18. Cars 3 (2017)
Directed by Brian Fee

It may not be reflected in our final list, but for my money Cars 3 is the best of the Cars films. The series started as one of Pixar’s least adult-friendly; its colorful automotive characters and their simple journeys were adored by children and largely ignored by their parents. But Cars 3 added a surprising wistfulness and maturity to the mix, as its hero, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), grapples with the realization that he is nearing the end of his racing career. Director Brian Fee’s messages about self-acceptance and tolerance don’t always make sense in the context of a universe where cars have become sentient and wiped out the human race. But like most of the best Pixar movies, Cars 3 is a touching road movie about the power of friendship. – MS


17. Monsters University (2013)
Directed by Dan Scanlon

Although it could never replace the original — or our undying love for Boo — Monsters University is a worthy follow-up to the wonderful world of things that go bump in the night. Pixar must’ve known that making a sequel to Monsters, Inc. was a futile endeavor, which is why the second film takes us back in time to when a young Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) first met Sulley (John Goodman). The two weren’t BFFs from the start, but as the ambitious Mike overcomes his insecurities through a hilarious collegiate rivalry with the naturally-talented Sulley, we get to enjoy a delightful story of friendship that picks up where the themes of the first film left off, with gentle reminders suitable for any age: It’s okay if you have to fight twice as hard for what someone else just naturally has. In fact, you might be better for it. – Britt Hayes


16. Cars (2006)
Directed by John Lasseter

Before its reputation was besmirched by its inferior sequel, Cars was an unassuming tribute to Route 66 and small-town America couched in a tot-friendly tale of a cocky race car learning a lesson about the value of slowing down to smell the proverbial roses (although there are no roses in Cars Land, because there’s basically no crops, or organic life of any kind, so in this case you’d probably stop and smell, I dunno, the White Rose Motor Oil or something). The original Cars also has one of Pixar’s strongest voice casts, including Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, George Carlin, Cheech Marin, Michael Keaton, and the late Paul Newman as Doc Hudson. Are you ready for the hottest take on this list? Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater is kind of funny. – MS


15. Brave (2012)
Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

It’s easy to forget Brave is a Pixar movie. Part of that’s because its princess narrative and characters – ordinary humans instead of the usual inanimate objects or super-powered people – make it feel more like a traditional Disney movie with a Pixar look. The tale of Scottish Princess Merida doesn’t have quite the dazzling imagination or emotional touch we’ve come to expect from Pixar either. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, though, and the sporty, feminist Merida breaks the mold of the many animated princesses who came before her. Brave is also elevated by gorgeous visuals and an excellent voice cast, including Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, and Billy Connolly. – EOW


14. Finding Dory (2016)
Directed by Andrew Stanton

With Finding Dory, Pixar took another warm and fuzzy idea — the family you choose is every bit as important as the family you were born into — and turned it into a riveting adventure across the sea with Ellen DeGeneres’ endearingly forgetful fish. What the sequel lacks in originality, it makes up for with a sweet story about Dory’s search for where she came from and a new cast of unforgettable supporting characters: A pair of cocky sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominic West in the animated Wire reunion we never knew we wanted) and an insanely hilarious loon named Becky, who is easily the greatest minor Pixar character since M-O from WALL-E. – BS


13. A Bug’s Life (1998)
Directed by John Lasseter

Lasseter’s A Bug’s Life was Pixar’s second movie, arriving three years after Toy Story. Its characters may not have left as indelible a mark on audiences as the studio’s best output – does anyone ever rave about how much they love Flick? – and the animation has aged poorly. But this kid-friendly take on Seven Samurai, which follows an ant recruiting a group of bugs to protect his colony from invading grasshoppers, finds endlessly clever ways to play with scale and bring its tiny world to life. It’s the visual details that make A Bug’s Life so charming and fun, from how it imagines a bustling bug city under a trailer as a mini metropolitan city, to the ways the bugs build things out of the trash and nature around them – I will forever love that the circus stadium is made from old ice trays and Reese’s Cups wrappers. (Also, sorry Chance the Rapper, but you’re wrong; A Bug’s Life > Antz.) – EOW


12. Incredibles 2 (2018)
Directed by Brad Bird

Making a sequel to one of your studio’s best movies 14 years later and releasing it at a time where superhero narratives have dominated Hollywood? That’s risky, but Brad Bird does it exceptionally well with Incredibles 2, the best Pixar sequel outside of the Toy Story series. The new movie, which picks up right after the events of the first, finds Helen Parr’s Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) fighting crime while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays at home with the kids and a newly super  Jack-Jack. It’s a charming story about parenthood, something Pixar has proven to understand so well again and again. The sequel may not be as sharp as the original and it suffers from a disappointing villain, but it’s filled with fun set pieces, eye-popping animation, and gives Violet (Sarah Vowell), Helen, and Jack-Jack plenty of opportunities to shine this time around. – EOW


11. Coco (2017)
Directed by Lee Unkrich

Just your average kids movie about death, murder, loss, grief, dementia, living skeletons, and deadbeat dads. Even by the standards of Pixar — a studio that almost exclusively makes movies for adults couched in the trappings of children’s entertainment — Coco is a mature film, which tackles subjects like mortality and loss head-on. It’s also one of the studio’s most imaginatively designed efforts, particularly in its gorgeously colorful Land of the Dead. From a political perspective, its timing could not have been better, either. Its key song, “Remember Me,” was slightly redundant, though. Anyone who’d sobbed their way through this film’s climax needs no coaxing to remember it. – MS


10. Up (2009)
Directed by Pete Docter

Everyone loves Up’s devastating opening montage, which chronicles decades of highs and soul-crushing lows in a happy couple’s marriage in a matter of minutes. But they underrate the rest of the film that follows, where crotchety widower Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) makes good on a promise to his late wife Ellie by flying his house down to South America. There he makes friends with a kooky bird, a “talking” dog named Dug and a young scout named Russell (Jordan Nagai) who stowed away on the journey. It’s full of wonderful humor, warmth, and whimsy. And here’s a fun thing game to play: Try not to burst into tears when Michael Giacchino’s music starts playing over the opening credits. – MS


9. Monsters Inc. (2001)
Directed by Pete Docter

Listen, certain people on this list might try to tell you that Dug is the best cutesy Pixar supporting character. Those people are wrong. The correct answer is Boo, the adorable little human who befriends Sulley and Mike Wazowski, a pair of monsters who inadvertently end up bringing this babbling tyke back to Monstropolis — a world where humans, not monsters, are the real threat. Or so it seems. In this cleverly-designed story, Boo teaches Sulley and Mike (and young viewers) a valuable lesson about judgment, empathy, and thinking for themselves. (And with all the fear-driven propaganda and what essentially amounts to “fake news” in our world today, Monsters, Inc. remains pretty darn relevant.) – BS


8. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Directed by Lee Unkrich

Rarely do sequels surpass or even match their predecessors, and yet Pixar managed to deliver not one, but two fantastic Toy Story sequels. For my money, Toy Story 3 is the superior of the two — and not just because I openly sobbed, in public, through the last 20 minutes. Left behind when Andy heads off to college, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang wind up at a daycare run by an evil stuffed bear. It’s a story that explores some rather mature ideas about resentment and relationships, and how the most hurtful things that happen in our lives shape us — for better or worse. It also features the absolute best, most heartwarming callback to the first film; your reward for a climax so stressful you might need therapy after. – BS


7. The Incredibles (2004)
Directed by Brad Bird

If you haven’t revisited The Incredibles in a while be prepared for a shock: The animation is far cruder than you remember. (Thanks to 14 years of technological advancements, Incredibles 2 actually looks the way you think The Incredibles did.)  Everything else about Brad Bird’s Pixar debut holds up beautifully. Its story about a family of superheroes hiding their powers became controversial because of a message about the dangers of a world where “everyone is super” and thus no one is. Some viewers seem to miss, though, that the character espousing that worldview is its villain. And when its hero laments the way his children are stifled and barred from using their gifts, he is actually projecting his own insecurities and frustrations onto them in the midst of a surprisingly honest portrait of a superman in the midst of a midlife crisis. – MS


6. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Directed by John Lasseter

Sequels are tough, and Pixar doesn’t have the greatest track record with them. But the second Toy Story is by far their best effort at a sequel (and honestly, it only surpasses the third movie by a hair). Toy Story 2 is more philosophical and melancholy than the rest of the trilogy. It showed anthropomorphic children’s toys grappling with the anxiety of being discarded by their kid owners – What’s the point of a toy if no one plays with it? Is it better to be looked at and appreciated in a museum, if forever isolated, or to be a kid’s favorite plaything for a brief moment in time? The Lasseter sequel doesn’t match the thrill and originality of its predecessor, but it took his iconic characters into more contemplative territory. – EOW


5. Ratatouille (2007)
Directed by Brad Bird

Perhaps Pixar’s greatest magic trick was taking one of the world’s most despised creatures — the humble rat — and turning it into an adorable, lovable, empathetic friend worthy of more consideration. (It’s hardly coincidence that sales of domestic rats spiked in the months following Ratatouille’s release.) My personal favorite Pixar film, Ratatouille follows Remy (Patton Oswalt), a rat whose love of fine cuisine fuels his seemingly ridiculous ambitions of becoming a renowned chef in France. Despite how the world views his kind, Remy teams up with a fellow outcast — a lowly busboy — to share his love of food with the masses. At the heart of Ratatouille is a truly poignant story about art and creation, of how we take inspiration and make something that can inspire others, and about not losing sight of our passions. One simple dish (or movie, or painting, or song) can be a transformative experience. – BS


4. WALL-E (2008)
Directed by Andrew Stanton

Pixar movies have always been about about finding the relatable humanity within non-human characters, from bugs to toys and cars. What better way to make us empathize with non-living objects than making a movie about how much humans suck? In WALL-E’s dystopian future, people are the bad guys. They destroyed their planet, turning it into a literal trash heap; they built an evil corporation that refuses to clean up Earth; and all they do is sit on their butts and look at screens all day – a truly prescient film. In this world, a rusty little robot with a tender heart and a love for musicals is the hero. Andrew Stanton’s WALL-E is the studio’s most socially conscious movie buried within a sweet robot romance. Any animated movie that can make me cry over a trash compactor (like, multiple times) and make me find a cockroach cute is doing something right. – EOW


3. Finding Nemo (2003)
Directed by Andrew Stanton

It’s easy to forget that one of the most beloved and quotable Pixar movies opens with the devastating murder of 400 fish. But that’s just proof of how great Pixar is at slipping serious narratives about grief and loss into children’s stories. Andrew Stanton’s film may be full of talking fish, but its story is as human as can be, one about parenthood and the struggle of letting go once the little ones start growing up. It follows neurotic helicopter parent Marlin (poignantly voiced by Albert Brooks) on a journey to find his son Nemo, whose curious spirit carries him leagues away from home. But Nemo is more than a touching father-son story; Stanton brings the entire ocean to life with some of the studio’s most memorable supporting characters: the adorable Squirt and his stoner dad Crush, Willem Dafoe’s sullen Gill, Allison Janney’s buoyant starfish, those dummy seagulls, and of course, Ellen DeGeneres’ perky and forgetful Dory, a voice performance that still makes me laugh. Finding Nemo has as much heart as it has imagination and adventure: The ultimate recipe for a classic Pixar production. – EOW


2. Inside Out (2015)
Directed by Pete Docter

John Lasseter may have gotten most of the positive press and attention (at least until recent allegations of sexual misconduct), but my vote for Pixar’s true genius goes to Pete Docter. He was a writer on Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and WALL-E, and the director of three of the studio’s best films: Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out, a brilliantly conceived story about the inner emotional life of an 11-year-old girl. When Riley and her family relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco, her whole world is thrown into chaos, which prompts a battle between her brain’s anthropomorphized emotions. The design of Riley’s brainscape is endlessly inventive — Docter could have made an entire movie just about the movie studio where her bizarre dreams are produced — and there’s something interesting to look at in every single shot of every single scene. More importantly, Inside Out is one of the wisest films ever made about the importance of sadness and grief in one’s life. It’s the crowning achievement of Docter’s incredible career. – MS


1. Toy Story (1995)
Directed by John Lasseter

It was the film that got us hooked on Pixar — so of course it was destined to end up at the top of this list. Toy Story was an instant classic; a coming-of-age tale told from the perspective of a handful of beloved childhood toys led by an unlikely pair of plastic pals. Woody, the old hand-me-down sheriff (Tom Hanks), and Buzz Lightyear, the shiny newcomer with all his bells and whistles (Tim Allen). When their resentful bickering gets them separated from their wide-eyed owner, the pair must overcome their differences if they hope to be reunited with the most important person in their lives. From the vantage point of a little boy’s playthings, the world is much more vast and wondrous than we ever could have imagined, and though the animation may feel somewhat dated 23 years later, its message and charm remain timeless. Toy Story endures not only because it gave birth to every other movie on this list, but also because it continues to resonate with viewers both young and old. – BS


Gallery – Pixar Easter Eggs: