The Academy Award (or Oscar) for Best Animated Feature was first awarded in 2001, and since then Pixar movies have dominated in the category, taking home the honor a dozen times. The studio’s ever-growing catalogue of films means that Pixar is often represented multiple times in the category.
While all the winning movies have obviously proved to be critically successful, some are more favorably remembered by audiences than others, and these preferences are reflected in the movie’s scores on IMDb, where viewers and casual critics have had their say.
Updated on September 21st, 2022 by Stacie Rook: The latest D23 Expo has shown that there’s plenty for Pixar fans to be excited about in the coming years, as key visuals for new movies Elemental and Elio were revealed, alongside an announcement that there will be a sequel to Inside Out, Inside Out 2. In the meantime, though, fans of the studio can revisit all of their Oscar-winning animations through streaming on Disney+.
12 Brave (2012) – 7.1
Released in 2012, Brave follows Scottish princess Merida as she rebels against a tradition that would have her get married, and the consequences of a wish she makes that accidentally curses her family.
Brave is a unique Pixar movie for a number of reasons, from its historical setting to its Disney princess narrative, and its score on IMDb is perhaps a reflection of the fact that it does not include the distinctive features viewers have come to expect from Pixar films, like non-human protagonists and philosophical themes.
11 Encanto (2021) – 7.2
Encanto, a magical story from Pixar that tells the story of the Madrigal family, was released in 2021, and it quickly became an internet sensation, thanks in part to its soundtrack of catchy songs.
The most recent winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, Encanto not only beat fellow Pixar movie Luca in order to secure the award, but also Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon. Aside from its music, Encanto also received praise for its exploration of generational trauma, and well-defined cast of characters.
10 Toy Story 4 (2019) – 7.7
The fourth entry in the Toy Story series, Toy Story 4 was released in 2019, and sees Andy’s former toys adjust to life with Bonnie—joined by the newly-made Forky—while Woody unexpectedly encounters Bo Peep again.
Mixing nostalgia with memorable new toys in a similar way to its direct predecessor, Toy Story 4 built on its story by putting its characters in brand-new environments, and introducing new ideas like the self-named group of Lost Toys.
9 The Incredibles (8.0)
2004 superhero movie The Incredibles tells the story of the Parr family, heroes with unique powers who come together to fight against the super villain Syndrome.
Syndrome (a former fan of Mr. Incredible who used science to grant himself powers) proves a challenging opponent for the team, who must learn to work with each other in new ways. The story’s take on the superhero genre, and the introduction of fan-favorite Pixar character Edna Mode were particularly praised in this tale, and its success lead to a sequel, released in 2018.
8 Soul (2020) – 8.0
One of Pixar’s most ambitious movies in terms of its subject and existential themes, Soul was released in 2020, and has jazz pianist Joe attempting to return his soul to Earth after an accident lands him in the Great Before.
The memorable designs of the land of the Great Before, coupled with Joe and Soul 22’s journey to finding answers to their respective mysteries, contributed to the movie’s success, but it was not entirely without criticism, as some reviewers noted that Pixar’s decision to turn their Black protagonist into an amorphous soul for much of the runtime prevented the film from providing any memorable representation.
7 Ratatouille (2007) – 8.1
Proving that sometimes the best protagonists are found in unexpected places, 2007’s Ratatouille saw Remy the rat pursue his dream of becoming a chef in Paris, helped along by his human friend Linguini.
With its alluring animations of food and exploration of creative passions, Ratatouille is a heartfelt story, supported by a brilliant script that also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which treats all its characters with the same level of care, be they human or rat.
6 Finding Nemo (2003) – 8.2
Finding Nemo, released in 2003, is a sea-based adventure that follows clown fish Marlin as he searches for his missing son Nemo, aided in his quest by the ever-forgetful Dory.
The first of Pixar’s movies to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Finding Nemo reveals the layers of Marlin and Nemo’s parent-child relationship gradually, but manages all the while to be a fun and engaging watch for adults and kids alike.
5 Inside Out (2015) – 8.2
Distilling the complexity of the human brain, memories, and emotions into an animated movie sounds a near-impossible task, but 2015’s Inside Out received acclaim for managing to do just that.
Focused on young protagonist Riley after her family’s cross-country move, Inside Out examines Riley’s emotions, personified by five colorful characters, as they navigate her shifting moods and seek to help her feel more comfortable with the changes she’s experiencing. This results in a story that confronts the difficulties of growing up with great attention to detail.
4 Toy Story 3 (2010) – 8.3
Over a decade had passed since the release of Toy Story 2 when Toy Story 3 hit theaters in 2010, and likewise years had gone by in the characters’ world, as the movie opened with Andy preparing for college, leaving his toys in an uncertain position.
Some of the best Toy Storycharacters that have only appeared once, like Ken and Lotso, debuted in Toy Story 3, showing there was more to be gained from a return to the world, and this was further proved by the movie’s astronomical success. In addition to Best Animated Feature, Toy Story 3 was also nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, a feat that only three animated movies have ever achieved.
3 Up (2009) – 8.3
Up starts with perhaps the very best Pixar montage scene, one that makes the 2009 movie feel special from the very beginning. What follows is an unlikely adventure, as the elderly Carl Fredricksen travels to South America in order to fulfill his late wife Ellie’s dream, accompanied by young wilderness explorer Russell.
Once there, the pair find themselves caught up in a larger plot involving legendary explorer Charles Muntz, and they encounter memorable animals like talking dog Dug, and a huge colorful bird that Russell names Kevin. Up’s strong story and beautiful music also made it a contender for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
2 WALL-E (2008) – 8.4
WALL-E , released in 2008, saw Pixar venture into the world of science-fiction, telling the story of its titular robot, left on the garbage-filled remains of Earth to clean up waste.
During the story, WALL-E meets fellow robot EVE, a moment which changes his existence for good. Notable for its live-action scene, a unique feature of the movie used to great effect to show how altered from present-day Earth the film’s world is (while also acting as a scary vision for the future), WALL-E’s themes of environmentalism only serve to gain greater relevance with each passing year.
1 Coco (2017) – 8.4
When Coco was released in 2017 it proved that Pixar could match the standards set by parent company Disney in terms of songs and soundtrack.
The movie follows Miguel and his family as they prepare for the Day of the Dead, but their celebrations are complicated when Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he makes it his mission to seek out one of his ancestors, and learn why his family has such strict opinions about music. The movie’s approach to Mexican culture, musical numbers, and strong voice acting performances received particular praise from critics.