The Impossible Task… Ranking the Pixar Films

There is no studio quite like Pixar. Not only have they been the gold standard for cutting edge animation, but they have also routinely given us heartwarming stories that are entertaining for moviegoers of all ages. With 20 films under their belt, I decided to try my hand at ranking them. Full disclosure, making this list was like splitting hairs as most of them are sensational. Nevertheless, here is my countdown of all of Disney/Pixar’s full length films.

20. CARS 2

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Easily the black sheep of the Pixar family. While it’s more boring than terrible, this unnecessary sequel is neither thematically profound nor is it clever. Making Cars sidekick, Mater the lead and shifting the plot to being a spy film rather than focusing on racing were two mistakes that made it feel like a direct to DVD Disney film rather than a Pixar masterpiece.

Best Moment: Mater experiencing a Japanese toilet for the first time warranted a chuckle, I guess.

19. CARS 3

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The only Pixar movie that actually made me doze off upon first viewing. The story, which puts the focus back on Lightning McQueen being an athlete fading from his prime, is endearing enough. But the movie itself doesn’t have nearly enough humor or exciting moments to be considered entertaining for anyone other than young children.

Best Moment: The final race where Lightning McQueen coaches up Cruz Ramirez to victory was a nice touch.

18. THE GOOD DINOSAUR

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This movie was incredibly heartwarming and carried the Pixar torch of making audience members tear up. The problem is, it isn’t nearly original enough. A studio known for its unique characters and stories managed to make a film that ended up being a mashup of a bunch of other Disney movies we’d already seen.

Best Moment: Arlo and Spot go on a pretty wild trip off some poison berries.

17. BRAVE

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Princess Merida was a great character and her triplet brothers were hilarious. But this movie wasn’t particularly memorable. There wasn’t a ton of exciting moments and even though there were some good laughs, it can’t outweigh the fact that Brave isn’t nearly as rewatchable as many of the other Pixar movies.

Best Moment: Princess Merida makes a trip to see the quirky wood carver who moonlights as a witch.

16. CARS

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Sorry to pick on the Cars franchise, but these movies aren’t as great for audiences members of all ages. The first film in the trilogy was good, but not great. The plot was sound, and of course the animation was gorgeous, but there just wasn’t enough clever humor to make it a masterpiece. Most of the humor came from car puns and it kind of got old in this movie’s lengthy run time.

Best Moment: Guido performs the most epic pit stop ever.

15. RATATOUILLE

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The characters were fun and quirky and the animated food looked incredibly appetizing. But again, great film, not particularly memorable for being funny or exciting. This was one of those movies everyone should see, but it isn’t exactly one you’d be dying to own.

Best Moment: Remy cooks up a dish so spectacular that it makes food critic and French curmudgeon Anton Ego reminisce to his childhood.

14. INCREDIBLES 2

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Pixar’s latest film is really fun and exciting. It’s arguably funnier than the first and the action scenes are some of the best in the history of animation. But as plots go, this is probably Pixar’s weakest non-Cars story.

Best Moment: Baby Jack Jack vs. the Raccoon

13. MONSTERS INC.

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Baby Boo was adorable and Sully and Mike were a fantastic onscreen duo. It’s almost crazy to me to put this movie so low on the list, but it isn’t quite as funny or thematically groundbreaking as the movies above it.

Best Moment: “Welcome to the Himalayas! Snow cone?”

12. TOY STORY 2

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One of the few animated sequels that lived up to the hype. But in hindsight, it’s the weakest of the Toy Story trilogy. Jessie and Bullseye were great additions to the franchise and there are plenty of laughs in this film. But I can’t help but feel like Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy’s toys took too much of a backseat to Woody in this one.

Best Moment: Buzz Lightyear #2 vs. Zerg

11. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

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I was surprised at how much I loved this movie. The collegiate theme to the movie was a great aesthetic. It made the film feel more unique than any Pixar sequel and managed to create more depth and nuance to Mike and Sully’s already wonderful chemistry.

Best Moment: The snail monster “rushing” to class.

10. INSIDE OUT

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Now we’re really starting to split hairs. I absolutely loved this movie. That it barely cracks the top 10 is a testament to Pixar’s films since it’s release. A creative story and a beautiful message about the importance of every emotion manages to outweigh the lack of laugh out loud moments in comparison to other Pixar films.

Best Moment: If Bing Bong’s epic sacrifice doesn’t get you in your feelings, you have no soul.

9. A BUG’S LIFE

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One of the most rewatchable animated movies ever. The characters are fun and quirky. The story is smart and funny. And, above all, Hopper is a sensational villain and the studios best antagonist to date.

Best Moment: Hopper demonstrates why the grasshoppers need to keep the ants in line after one of his foolish subordinates suggests taking time off.

8. WALL-E

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Sure, there isn’t a lot of dialogue. But I’ve watched and enjoyed several silent films, so that doesn’t bother me. This movie is arguably Pixar’s most endearing and manages to be smart and humorous despite its unconventional method of storytelling.

Best Moment: WALL-E adorably tries to woo Eve with dancing and a flower.

7. FINDING DORY

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This movie was as heartfelt as it was hilarious. It successfully built its narrative around the previous film’s incredible supporting character. It is a model of how you make a sequel while placing a different character at the forefront (Looking at you Cars 2).

Best Moment: Hank the octopus experiences Dory’s short term memory loss for the first time when trying to get her tag.

6. COCO

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One could make the argument that this is Pixar’s best film and I wouldn’t argue with you. It doesn’t have as many laughs and memorable characters as other movies in the gallery, but it is still an absolute masterpiece. The visuals, the tear inducing story, and the beautiful representation of Mexican culture should all be applauded.

Best Moment: Mama Coco remembers her father when Miguel plays “Remember Me”

5. TOY STORY 3

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This movie had a lot of elements from Toy Story 2, but with better execution. Transplanting Jessie’s arc to the villain was an upgrade, and the movie gave Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy’s toys, a fun and humorous arc. For anyone who ever had a favorite toy, the finale is still enough to bring even the toughest of personas to tears. This movie was so good that I have no desire for Toy Story 4.

Best Moment: The toys in the furnace is a gut punch of emotion.

4. UP

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No opening scene in cinema has a more gut punching intro. From there, Up set the stage for one of the most endearing stories to date. Even without the heartwarming elements, this movie would stand the test of time for being a fun, family adventure.

Best Moment: The opening montage with Carl and Ellie… duh.

3. TOY STORY

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The film that started it all. Great characters. A ton of memorable, hilarious moments. A great story with a good lesson for people of all ages. Toy Story had it all. Over two decades old and it still holds up as a cinematic masterpiece.

Best Moment: “Don’t you get it! You see the hat! I am Misses Nesbit!”

2. FINDING NEMO

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The beginning may not be quite as tear inducing as UP’s, but it isn’t too far behind. (Disney sure likes killing off parents). Finding Nemo has one of the best assortments of supporting characters of any film ever made. Despite having a ton of characters, every single one that comes on screen leaves a mark. It paces seamlessly and provides some fantastic laughs throughout making it as close to a perfect movie as one can fathom.

Best Moment: The initiation of “Sharkbate”… or anything involving Dory.

1. THE INCREDIBLES

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Maybe I’m biased because superheroes are my favorite, but no animated film is as rewatchable for me as this one. The characters are fun and unique, the laughs are plentiful, the music is sensational, and the design is flawless. Throw in a well paced story, some exhilarating action, and a fantastic villain and you have Pixar’s most fun and memorable film.

Best Moment: Dash escapes Syndrome’s henchmen is a close second… but superhero costumed designer, Edna Mode steals the show.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let me know what Pixar films make your Top Ten.

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The 1st Annual Moore Review Awards

mr2017Welcome, to the first annual Moore Review Awards… or “The Brady’s” for short. There are tons of award shows out there, but few manage to encapsulate all of the film genres and show appreciation for the movie going public who can find enjoyment with the mindless action film as well as the thought provoking Oscar bate. That is what the Brady’s are for. Good performances don’t just come in dramas or period pieces, and my awards highlight all of the movies that make us laugh, cry, and sit on the edge of our seats. Quick side note before we get into the awards, films up for nomination had to have been released in 2016 (even if limited) to be considered. Also, as this is a recap of all of the films of last year, there is a SPOILER WARNING for this article. Now, without further ado… enjoy the first annual Moore Review Awards and feel free to comment and share.

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE

Bronze: Zack Efron (Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates) – Efron is quickly becoming one of the best actors at comedic performances, and he managed to steal the show in this offbeat comedy.

Silver: Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – The unfiltered droid, K2-SO,provided some of the best comic relief in the franchise’s history


Winner: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) – C’mon. Was there any doubt? Deadpool was one of the best movies of 2016 mainly because it simply let Ryan Reynolds be Ryan Reynolds. And that’s almost always hilarious.

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Other nominees: Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence), Kevin Hart (What Now?), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Bronze: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – If the newer Star Wars films have taught us anything, it’s that for this franchise, practical effects work better than CGI.

Silver: The Jungle Book – Jon Favreau and company managed to make an entire jungle and talking animals look incredibly lifelike.

Winner: Doctor Strange – It wasn’t just cool CGI, but the use of it that made this film look mesmerizing. The added 3D effect really helped bring the psychedelic world to life like nothing we’d ever seen in a superhero film.doctorstrange_teaser_trailer

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Other nominees: Assassin’s Creed, Kubo & The Two Strings, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

BEST SOUNDTRACK

Bronze: Moana – Lin Manuel Miranda, of Hamilton fame, put his stamp on this Polynesian inspired soundtrack.

Silver: Suicide Squad – the plot may have been a mess, but the soundtrack was a perfect combination of old hits and new music that captured the essence of the ragtag characters.

Winner: La La Land – Old Hollywood musical meets new school Jazz. Even without seasoned vocalists, the music in this film was captivating from start to finish.

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Other nominees: Sing, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Kubo & The Two Strings

BEST ACTION SEQUENCE

Bronze: The Spanish Inquisition Chase Scene (Assassin’s Creed) – Not a lot to love about this movie, but the parkour chase/fight sequences were exhilarating.

Silver: Darth Vader fight scene (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – In a matter of seconds, we got to see why Darth Vader is one of the most menacing villains in pop culture.

Winner: The Airport fight scene (Captain America: Civil War) – The most awesome scene in the history of comic book films. So many heroes doing so many cool things!5289551-3439904924-top-5

Other nominees: The Mirror Dimension fight (Doctor Strange), Batman rescues Martha Kent (Batman v Superman), Quicksilver mansion rescue (X-Men: Apocalypse)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Bronze: Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures) – The songstress played Mary Jackson with lovable spunk and a headstrong vigor that made her the woman you’d want to fall in love with.

Silver: Noami Harris (Moonlight) – While the drug addict mother is a bit of a cliché character, Harris played the role with gut wrenching intensity.

Winner: Viola Davis (Fences) – Davis somehow managed to out act Denzel Washington with a few monologues that had beautiful emotional execution.

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Other nominees: Viola Davis (Suicide Squad), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bronze: Robert Downey Jr. (Captain America: Civil War) – RDJ gave his best performance as Tony Stark yet, as a conflicted hero whose sense of retribution pit him against his closest friends.

Silver: John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) – Goodman’s creepy performance was what made the simplistic film so suspenseful.

Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) – An up-incoming actor who played the mentor role with perfection. The biggest flaw with Moonlight is that he isn’t in it enough.

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Other nominees: Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Chiwtel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)

 

BEST ADAPTATION

Bronze: Captain America: Civil War – While it was a watered down version of the comic mini-series, the film succeeded in giving a ton of a heroes reason to be onscreen together and come into conflict with each other.

Silver: Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly’s historical account was well crafted into a heartwarming story about African American women overcoming prejudice.

Winner: Deadpool – No comic film has been adapted as perfectly as this film was. They kept the violence, humor, and fourth wall breaks intact without compromising the endearment of the characters.

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Other nominees: Fences, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

BEST ONSCREEN ROMANCE

Bronze: Ryan Reynolds & Morena Baccarin (Deadpool) – Even with all of the violence and humor, the chemistry between these two is what gave the film its heart.

Silver: Multiple actors who played Black & Kevin (Moonlight) – Same sex relationships are rarely shown on screen, even fewer between men. This film’s portrayal of such a relationship was both groundbreaking and emotionally captivating.

Winner: Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling (La La Land) – The two actors are insanely likable apart, and their chemistry in this film helped drive an already interesting narrative.

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Other nominees: Matthew McConaughey & Charlize Theron (Kubo & The Two Strings), Seth Rogen & Kristen Wiig (Sausage Party), Lamorne Morris & Margot Bingham (Barbershop: The Next Cut)

BEST ONSCREEN TEAM

Bronze: Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters) – Despite the unfair comparisons to their male predecessors, this group of female comedians had a fun dynamic onscreen and each had a moment to shine.

Silver: Team Cap (Captain America: Civil War) – Unlike Team Iron Man, this team was cohesive and got a surprising MVP performance from Ant-Man.

Winner: The Rebels (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – This team provided a great blend of different characters from noble Chirrut Inwe to snarky K2-SO. Despite their wide range of personalities, they all had a likable trait and they meshed beautifully in accomplishing their ill-fated mission.

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Other nominees: Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone (La La Land), The magnificent seven (The Magnificent Seven), Jonah Hill & Miles Teller (War Dogs)

BEST VILLAIN

Bronze: Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse) – Sure, the Apocalypse character was a bit too cliché megalomaniac. But Isaac brought great charisma and a deviously regal aura to the role.

Silver: Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe) – Creepy, intimidating, and arguably not a villain. Lang’s eerie blind man made this suspense thriller a must see.

Winner: John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) – Goodman’s character might’ve been the only one creepier than the Blind Man. The fact that this murderous, kidnapping, conspiracy theorist turned out to be less crazy than we thought just makes the character even more frightening.

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Other nominees: Ed Skrein (Deadpool), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), The Shark (The Shallows)

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bronze: La La Land – An endearing idea of molding classic Hollywood musicals with modern jazz as the backdrop to a love story where both characters  are struggling to follow their dreams.

Silver: Moonlight – It’s often amazing how few films there are about same sex relationships. Combining that concept with the element of a character’s childhood, adolescents, and adulthood help add to the splendor of this thought provoking film.

Winner: 10 Cloverfield Lane – Making a movie where virtually all of the scenes take place in two rooms between three characters isn’t easy, but to make one as suspenseful as this one is a testament to a sensational script.

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Other nominees: Zootopia, The Nice Guys, Don’t Breathe

 

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Bronze: Kubo & The Two Strings – Gorgeously animated, stylish, exciting and clever with a wonderful cast of characters.

Silver: Finding Dory – A sequel as good or better than its predecessor. This movie gave us a tear jerking story and a host of wonderful new characters to go along with the ones we loved from Finding Nemo.

Winner: Zootopia – Smart, funny, and incredibly socially relevant for a children’s film. Zootopia is a modern Disney classic.

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Other nominees – Sing, Moana, The Secret Life of Pets

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Bronze: Denis Villenueve (Arrival) – Breathtaking cinematography and brilliant non-linear framing helped make this thinking man’s sci-fi film into one of the most beautiful film’s of the year.

Silver: Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) – This movie was proof that good direction can make or break any film. Claustrophobic camera angles and an eerie score helped make Don’t Breathe a memorable slasher/thriller film.

Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) – There were so many memorable scenes that stand out in this film. The musical numbers were sensational and the ending montage was the cherry on top of a well crafted, enjoyable film from beginning to end.

Director Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone on the set of LA LA LAND.

Other Nominees: Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), Travis Knight (Kubo & The Two Strings), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Bronze: Emma Stone (La La Land) – Stone’s performance was both charming and soulful and had audiences rooting for the struggling actress from her first audition.

Silver: Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) – The sensational depths of her performance as Katherine Johnson can be  summed up in her powerful monologue after having to run in the rain to the ‘colored’ restroom.

Winner: Amy Adams (Arrival) – A movie with such a somber tone has to have a solid leading lady to keep things flowing. Adams is both clever, headstrong and endearingly vulnerable in her performance as Louise Banks.

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Other nominees: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad), Emily Blunt (Girl on the Train)

 

BEST ACTOR

Bronze: Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) – All of the people who played Chiron were great, but Sanders’ performance as the teenage boy struggling with his sexuality was easily the most incredible. Sanders’ portrayal helped illustrate the boy’s transition from meager bullied kid into a tough and relentless man.

Silver: Denzel Washington (Fences) – Denzel will always deliver. In Fences he had one gripping monologue after another and helped carry a narrative that might’ve dragged without his (and Viola Davis’) performance.

Winner: Ryan Gosling (La La Land) – Sauve, charismatic, and intensely soulful. Gosling made the character of Sebastian easily the most fun and likable character on screen in 2016. He also gets extra credit for actually learning how to tap dance and play the piano for the role.

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Other nominees: Tom Hanks (Sully), Will Smith (Suicide Squad), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

 

2016 MOVIE OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Deadpool – Making a unique superhero film in this day and age is not easy. And yet, Deadpool manages to be a satire of the genre while also providing intense action and a charming romantic subplot.

Silver: Zootopia – Pertinent to the point that it should be required viewing in schools, Disney’s masterpiece also manages to be heartwarming and incredibly funny for a film with such a thought provoking subject matter.

Winner: La La Land – Fun, beautifully filmed, smart, soulful, and lead by two actors with infectious charm this musical reminded us of what was so wonderful about old school Hollywood filmmaking.

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Other nominees: Arrival, Hidden Figures, Captain America: Civil War, Sully, Finding Dory

There you have it ladies and gents. The first annual MooreReview.com Awards is in the books. Thanks for reading and I look forward to 2017’s nominees. Please like/share and feel free to comment who you think the winners should’ve been. As for the 2016 Academy Awards, expect films like La La LandMoonlight, and Fences to rack up.

My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2016

Another year is in the books and with it comes another year of ranking my Top 10 movies. It’s almost impossible to say that one movie is actually the best, so these are simply my favorites; i.e. the movies that I had the most enjoyable experience watching in 2016. Click on each title to read the full review. Thanks to everyone who read, shared, commented, or liked any of my posts this year and I look forward to bringing more insight in 2017. Happy New Year everyone!

10. SING 

While it didn’t break any new narrative ground, Sing capped off one of the best years ever for animated movies. A great cast of characters and wonderful music made this film a fun, heartwarming holiday film for the whole family.

9. DOCTOR STRANGE

Marvel does it again. Even if it wasn’t part of a larger film franchise, it would’ve been an awesome film to watch thanks to a great cast and utterly stunning visuals.

8. MOANA

The animated masterpieces keep on coming. This film gave us two great lead characters that are sure to become Disney classics. A few wonderful songs composed by musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda was the icing on the cake for this fun, stylistically unique adventure.

7. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Capitalizing on the success of The Force Awakens, this film manages to heighten the Star Wars mythos while providing some great original characters and one of the most invigorating final acts of any movie this year.

6. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Whether you side with Captain America or not, it’s hard to argue that the character has produced some of the best super hero films to date. This one was a well crafted thriller that successfully pitted heroes vs. heroes and produced some great action and surprisingly deep emotional moments.

5. ARRIVAL

A great think peace with splendid acting. Arrival was a well crafted narrative with a beautiful message and ending.

4. DEADPOOL

The funniest movie of the year. Ryan Reynolds was at his best and helped deliver a tongue and check, violently awesome take on the superhero genre.

3. LA LA LAND

A gorgeous throwback to old Hollywood musicals that gave us one of the best on screen duos of the year. From start to finish this movie is magically endearing.

2. FINDING DORY

One of the best sequels to date. This movie added fun and interesting characters to go along with one of the best animated characters to ever be onscreen. Chocked full of hilarious moments and enough emotion to make even the toughest person tear up, Finding Dory proved that Pixar is still the best at crafting smart, funny, and touching animated films.

1. ZOOTOPIA

Not only was this movie beautifully animated and filled with some great puns and sight gags, but it also delivered on a story that is incredibly pertinent. Zootopia is an intelligent, emotional guide to humanity disguised as a funny family cartoon and it is a much watch for everyone both young and old.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Jungle Book, Sully, The Secret Life of Pets, X-Men: Apocalypse,  The Nice Guys, Sausage Party, 10 Cloverfield Lane

Finding Dory (Full Review)

Pixar is the gold standard of animated family films. Among their many classics, few movies are as beloved as 2003’s Finding Nemo. The story about a father searching for his disabled son and learning not to be overprotective was highlighted by a cast of great characters. Ironically, the most unforgettable character was the one who couldn’t remember anything. And now, 13 years later, the Disney animation goliath brings us a much anticipated sequel that follows Dory on an all new adventure.

Finding_DoryPixar proved it can follow one of its classics with an equally fantastic film with the Toy Story trilogy. But before you go thinking Finding Dory is a lock to be a great follow up, I have two words for you… Cars 2. With Dory, the Pixar filmmakers had the challenge of making a movie with just as much heart, while maintaining a similar message about cherishing family and overcoming adversity that could easily feel repetitive. They manage to succeed, with flying colors.

Finding Dory picks up one year after Finding Nemo. Blue tang fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) continues to suffer from short term memory loss and now lives with her best clownfish buddy Marlon (Albert Brooks) and his son, Nemo (Hayden Rolance). One day, a series of familiar phrases triggers her memories of her long lost parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy) and Dory sets out on a mission to reunite with them. The journey may seem like a retread, but a fantastic set of characters make it feel like anything but.

Pixar’s ability to create memorable characters is often what sets their films apart. Well… that and flawless animation. Finding Dory is a magnificent follow up to a beloved classic mainly because of its large cast of new characters, each one hilarious and unique. There’s a near sighted whale shark (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale that thinks it’s sick (Ty Burrell), and a pair of lazy and bossy sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominic West). But perhaps no character is as critical to the movies fun and charisma as Hank (Ed O’Neil), a temperamental octopus trying to prevent being released from a safe and secure Marine hospital.

Sure, Ellen DeGeneres is once again endearing as Dory and Marlon and Nemo provide several laughs and valuable lessons, but without the new faces, the movie would feel like a good, but relatively unnecessary sequel. But these new characters make this heartwarming story about Dory overcoming her shortcomings and finding her family feel fresh and the missing piece we didn’t even realize we needed. I’ve always said, every movie doesn’t need a sequel, but sometimes… when the right people are behind it…. some movies most certainly do. And in the case of Finding Dory, despite being a bit more over the top than the original, it’s the sequel adults and kids have been waiting for.

FINAL GRADE: A+