9) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
An undeniable classic – and the one most of the current generation remember for making them feel something other than humor at a kid’s movie – Monsters, Inc is easily the first of the Pixar movies on this list that makes ranking all 15 increasingly difficult. Taking maybe one of Pixar’s highest concepts — monsters from an alternate universe (or the future?!) steal away to children’s rooms in our world every night to stock scream energy to power their civilization — and drilling it down to a palatable level, Monsters, Inc set the tone for the decades-worth of heady concepts presented as easily, and eagerly, digestible entertainment for both kids and adults.
Its look is odd, its characters are goofy, and its plot is scatterbrained, but leave it to one little girl — and one uttered syllable that changed a three-lettered word for a generation — to penetrate the hearts of even the curmudgeons watching. Not to mention, anyone over the age of twenty is still humming the title song to “Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me” to this day, guaranteed.
8) Toy Story 2 (1999)
Listen, I don’t want to leave any Toy Story flick at the bottom all alone as much as the next person, but it must be done for the sake of the list. There’s an abundance to like about the second chapter of the Toy Story saga – new toys, new locations, new villain – but with neither the awe-struck surprise of the original or the catastrophic payoff to the third, Toy Story 2 remains the outlier, by a thread of Woody’s arm.
But forget about all that, the positives! Jessie the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and Bullseye! Stinky Pete’s (Kelsey Grammar) dastardly plan! The airport terminal sequence! And, as it shall and always be remembered, the impeccable flashback scene to Jessie’s former owner and her eventual neglect of the Cowgirl as she aged into a young adult, all played in silent shots overlaid with Sarah McLachlan’s “When She Loved Me.” Commence ugly crying in 3… 2… 1.