Thrillist’s Best (and the Rest) podcast host Wil Fulton has a tough task: figuring out the best Pixar movie. With a “Beatles-esque run of hits” that includes heavyweights like Toy Story 1-4, Up, Wall-E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Inside Out, Monsters Inc., and Coco, how can anyone possibly determine which is the greatest achievement? Wil enlists help from Thrillist entertainment writers Esther Zuckerman and Emma Stefansky to drink wine and debate not only the best overall movie, but the best opening sequences, the most emotionally devastating moments, which film most deserves a prequel or live-action adaptation, and which film is best to watch stoned, on this fun and freewheeling episode.
Pixar’s first movie was Toy Story in 1995, and they have dominated animation pretty much ever since, winning not only awards, but lifelong fans among youth and adults alike. “One of the reasons that people...like Pixar is because it’s ostensibly kids’ movies...getting to very deep themes, are very philosophical, are very sort of Proustian,” Esther says, and Emma agrees: “I rarely feel like I’m being talked down to when I’m watching a Pixar movie.” Even their sequels, while sometimes feeling like cash-grabs - after all, as Esther points out, “Pixar was revered for these original ideas, and when they sort of started doing a Monsters University, Finding Dory, they were like... sort of cashing in on material that's already there” - others can be amazing. Wil says he thought Toy Story 4 was an “unnecessary sequel” at first, but they all agree it’s a great film and possibly the funniest Pixar movie ever made (though Emma makes a strong case for Monsters Inc.). As for Forky, Esther says he initially seemed like a pandering character to her, but now “we stan a trash king.” Another great thing about the Toy Story movies, Emma reflects, is that they “evolve in a way, because I feel like the first two were kind of about the toys loving their children and how the children will love their toys and that's good, and then the second two were sort of about how it's important for people to move on from things...it's cool to see Pixar grow up with us.”
They agree that the Cars movies are objectively the worst Pixar movies of all time, but naturally, it’s hard to deny the toy money Pixar rakes in from them. Best at making you cry? For Wil, it’s Coco, and Esther agrees: “when Mama Coco hears the song... if you've ever had a grandmother or an older relative who is going through any form of dementia, and you see how they respond to music, that hits incredibly hard.” She also calls Bing Bong’s story in Inside Out “extremely brutal.” Emma says she finds herself crying in Finding Nemo, when Marlin leaves Dory and she starts forgetting everything. “To just watch someone, watch their mind leave them...it's creepy for a children's movie!” Best opening sequence contenders include, of course, Up (“killer....some of the best filmmaking of all time,” Wil says) and Wall-E (“the whole opening is a silent film” with some of the best dystopian imagery in cinema, Emma points out, and Wil calls it “a Fisher Price 2001: A Space Odyssey”). But Wil also loves the opening to Ratatouille, saying, “It's one of the best freeze-frame, ‘so-this-is-me’ moments. And it wasn't lame!”
Find out Wil, Emma, and Esther’s thoughts on the most underrated (and overrated) Pixar movies, the interconnected Pixar movie timeline theory, under-the-radar choices like Brave, A Bug’s Life, and The Good Dinosaur, and of course their ultimate pick for the greatest Pixar film of all time, on this episode of Thrillist’s Best (and the Rest).
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