(Photo by Pixar / courtesy Everett Collection)

All Pixar Movies Ranked By Tomatometer

When Disney distributed Pixar’s Toy Story as an autumn alternative to traditional 2D animated features in 1995, could the studio have predicted that it would instead set the gold standard and template for theatrical cartoons for decades to come? After all, the slide from peak Disney Renaissance had only just begun (their releases that year were Pocahontas and A Goofy Movie) and Pixar was up to that point a studio that only made commercials and shorts; a feature-length 3D animated movie was a miracle in of itself, and they were not equipped to churn out quality yearly releases like Walt Disney Animation.

Pixar’s follow-up took three years to hit theaters, and though A Bug’s Life is looked back on in the canon as a minor Pixar effort, everyone in 1998 rushed out to see it, and it again ended up grossing more than Disney’s then recent works like Hercules and Mulan. 1999’s Toy Story 2 was a cultural event, and established Pixar as the one to take animation to the highest heights in the new century. What followed was a then-unprecedented run of Certified Fresh hits and box office smashes, from Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo to The IncrediblesWALL-E, and Up.

2011’s Cars 2 broke the streak with Pixar’s first Rotten film, and the studio has since spent the past decade oscillating between returning to the sequel well (Monsters University, Finding Dory) and pulling up original property (Coco, Inside Out), closing out with Toy Story 4. For 2020, Onward was pulled from theaters after two due to the pandemic, while Soul went straight to Disney+ in hopes of salvaging a year of chaos. Now, let’s take a long look at the past 25 years, ranking all Pixar movies by Tomatometer!

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Cars 2 (2011)

Adjusted Score: 47435%
Critics Consensus: Cars 2 is as visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but all that dazzle can't disguise the rusty storytelling under the hood.
Synopsis: Racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his tow-truck buddy, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), have had their share of adventures... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter


Cars 3 (2017)

Adjusted Score: 85154%
Critics Consensus: Cars 3 has an unexpectedly poignant story to go with its dazzling animation, suggesting Pixar's most middle-of-the-road franchise may have a surprising amount of tread left.
Synopsis: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars, the legendary Lighting McQueen finds himself pushed out of the sport that... [More]
Directed By: Brian Fee


Cars (2006)

Adjusted Score: 82670%
Critics Consensus: Cars offers visual treats that more than compensate for its somewhat thinly written story, adding up to a satisfying diversion for younger viewers.
Synopsis: While traveling to California to race against The King (Richard Petty) and Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) for the Piston Cup... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter

Adjusted Score: 83804%
Critics Consensus: The Good Dinosaur delivers thrillingly beautiful animation in service of a worthy story that, even if it doesn't quite live up to the lofty standards set by Pixar, still adds up to charming, family-friendly entertainment.
Synopsis: Luckily for young Arlo, his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand) and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped... [More]
Directed By: Peter Sohn


Brave (2012)

Adjusted Score: 87899%
Critics Consensus: Brave offers young audiences and fairy tale fans a rousing, funny fantasy adventure with a distaff twist and surprising depth.
Synopsis: Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the impetuous but courageous daughter of Scottish King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), is... [More]

Adjusted Score: 87090%
Critics Consensus: Offering Monsters, Inc. fans a return visit with beloved characters, Monsters University delivers funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age.
Synopsis: Ever since he was a kid monster, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) has dreamed of becoming a Scarer. To make his... [More]
Directed By: Dan Scanlon


Onward (2020)

Adjusted Score: 112034%
Critics Consensus: It may suffer in comparison to Pixar's classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio's formula -- and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure.
Synopsis: Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father.... [More]
Directed By: Dan Scanlon


Luca (2021)

Adjusted Score: 105871%
Critics Consensus: Slight but suffused with infectious joy, the beguiling Luca proves Pixar can play it safe while still charming audiences of all ages.
Synopsis: Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar's original feature film "Luca" is a coming-of-age... [More]
Directed By: Enrico Casarosa


A Bug's Life (1998)

Adjusted Score: 96756%
Critics Consensus: A Bug's Life is a rousing adventure that blends animated thrills with witty dialogue and memorable characters - and another smashing early success for Pixar.
Synopsis: Flik (Dave Foley) is an inventive ant who's always messing things up for his colony. His latest mishap was destroying... [More]


Incredibles 2 (2018)

Adjusted Score: 116865%
Critics Consensus: Incredibles 2 reunites Pixar's family crimefighting team for a long-awaited follow-up that may not quite live up to the original, but comes close enough to earn its name.
Synopsis: Telecommunications guru Winston Deavor enlists Elastigirl to fight crime and make the public fall in love with superheroes once again.... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird


Finding Dory (2016)

Adjusted Score: 115466%
Critics Consensus: Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking, Finding Dory delivers a beautifully animated adventure that adds another entertaining chapter to its predecessor's classic story.
Synopsis: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton


Soul (2020)

Adjusted Score: 119523%
Critics Consensus: A film as beautiful to contemplate as it is to behold, Soul proves Pixar's power to deliver outstanding all-ages entertainment remains undimmed.
Synopsis: Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn't quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter


WALL-E (2008)

Adjusted Score: 105657%
Critics Consensus: Wall-E's stellar visuals testify once again to Pixar's ingenuity, while its charming star will captivate younger viewers -- and its timely story offers thought-provoking subtext.
Synopsis: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton


Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Adjusted Score: 102923%
Critics Consensus: Clever, funny, and delightful to look at, Monsters, Inc. delivers another resounding example of how Pixar elevated the bar for modern all-ages animation.
Synopsis: Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is one of... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter


Ratatouille (2007)

Adjusted Score: 106017%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced and stunningly animated, Ratatouille adds another delightfully entertaining entry -- and a rather unlikely hero -- to the Pixar canon.
Synopsis: Remy (Patton Oswalt), a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird


The Incredibles (2004)

Adjusted Score: 106294%
Critics Consensus: Bringing loads of wit and tons of fun to the animated superhero genre, The Incredibles easily lives up to its name.
Synopsis: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird


Coco (2017)

Adjusted Score: 123816%
Critics Consensus: Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly -- and deeply affecting -- approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death.
Synopsis: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich


Toy Story 4 (2019)

Adjusted Score: 124710%
Critics Consensus: Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending -- and perhaps concluding -- a practically perfect animated saga.
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy... [More]
Directed By: Josh Cooley


Up (2009)

Adjusted Score: 109558%
Critics Consensus: An exciting, funny, and poignant adventure, Up offers an impeccably crafted story told with wit and arranged with depth, as well as yet another visual Pixar treat.
Synopsis: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson


Toy Story 3 (2010)

Adjusted Score: 110116%
Critics Consensus: Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.
Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and... [More]
Directed By: Lee Unkrich


Inside Out (2015)

Adjusted Score: 113968%
Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
Synopsis: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Pete Docter


Finding Nemo (2003)

Adjusted Score: 108563%
Critics Consensus: Breathtakingly lovely and grounded by the stellar efforts of a well-chosen cast, Finding Nemo adds another beautifully crafted gem to Pixar's crown.
Synopsis: Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has a foreshortened fin.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Stanton


Toy Story (1995)

Adjusted Score: 106146%
Critics Consensus: Entertaining as it is innovative, Toy Story reinvigorated animation while heralding the arrival of Pixar as a family-friendly force to be reckoned with.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position... [More]
Directed By: John Lasseter


Toy Story 2 (1999)

Adjusted Score: 107787%
Critics Consensus: The rare sequel that arguably improves on its predecessor, Toy Story 2 uses inventive storytelling, gorgeous animation, and a talented cast to deliver another rich moviegoing experience for all ages.
Synopsis: Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), leaving Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen)... [More]

Once upon a time, animation could be neatly divided into two eras: BD and AD, or before and after Disney. That all changed, however, with the release of 1995’s Toy Story, a movie that — although it bore the Disney logo — marked the feature-length debut of an upstart studio named Pixar. There have been 19 Pixar movies since then — 17 of which are Certified Fresh — and we thought it would be interesting to take a fond look back at the studio’s extraordinary full-length filmography. From Toy Story to Finding Dory, to infinity and beyond, here’s this week’s Total Recall! [Updated on 6/18/18]

1. Toy Story 2 (1999) 100%

Considering how successful the first installment was — not to mention Disney’s original plan to make the sequel a direct-to-video affair — not many people would have been surprised if Toy Story 2 had fallen flat when it landed in theaters in 1999. But with Tom Hanks back as Woody, Tim Allen back as Buzz, and an adventure that took Andy’s toys on a journey every bit as exciting as their first, the second Story proved that some movie characters really do have more than one story worth telling — and that even when it came to movies with numbers after the title, Pixar meant business. Speaking of business, Toy Story 2‘s was extraordinarily healthy, to the tune of a $485 million worldwide gross — and the public’s obvious enthusiasm for the movie was backed up by the critics, who duplicated the original’s 100 percent Tomatometer on the strength of reviews like the one from Jay Carr of the Boston Globe, who wrote that it was “everything you could want in a sequel,” or Jeff Millar of the Houston Chronicle, who observed, “the Pixar people just get better and better.”

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2.  Toy Story (1995) 100%

(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

In 1937, Walt Disney Pictures turned conventional wisdom on its head by proving that animation — heretofore the realm of short films starring talking critters — could be successfully utilized to tell a full-length story starring realistic human characters. That film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, charted the path the studio — and animation pretty much in general — followed for almost six decades, until Pixar came long and changed everything with Toy Story. Like Snow White before it, Toy Story was an eye-popping technical marvel with a heart to match its stunning visuals — and like Snow White, it kick-started the growth of a studio whose unprecedented success would redefine an art form. Of course, no one could have known all that in 1995; we only knew that it was, in the words of Roger Ebert, “a visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie.” Subsequent Pixar releases have deepened and refined the technology and storytelling approach seen here, but unlike pretty much anything else considered cutting-edge in 1995, it still seems almost as fresh as it did on the day it was released. As Michael Booth of the Denver Post wrote, “It’s a landmark movie, and doesn’t get old with frequent repetition.”

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3. Toy Story 3 (2010) 98%

(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

By the time they reach their third installments, most franchises have either been corrupted by time (The Godfather Part III), stretched beyond sensible narrative limits (Die Hard with a Vengeance), or simply stopped trying (Superman III). Leave it to Pixar to create an exception to the rule with Toy Story 3, which used the decade-plus between sequels as a framing device for a poignant story about the exciting (and emotionally wrenching) transition between childhood and adulthood. Of course, it wasn’t all dramatic overtones; Toy Story 3 also made room for action-adventure, in the form of a daring, Great Escape-inspired plot to bust the toys out of their new home at the local daycare. It all added up to over $1 billion at the box office, five Academy Award nominations (including wins for Best Song and Best Animated Feature), and almost universal praise from critics like Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, who called it “A bona fide summer delight loaded with action, humor, nostalgia, a veritable blizzard of pop-culture references and general good vibes.”

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4.  Finding Nemo (2003) 99%

(Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

After going somewhat high-concept with Monsters, Inc., the studio took things back to basics for 2003’s Finding Nemo, following the adventures of a single father (Albert Brooks) and his brain-damaged acquaintance (Ellen DeGeneres) as they desperately search for his kidnapped son. It reads like a tense, Missing-style thriller, but this is Pixar: the characters are all animated talking fish, and in lieu of pulse-pounding drama, it serves up the adorable antics of ocean critters like a porcupinefish named Bloat (Brad Garrett) and a laid back sea turtle named Crush (voiced by writer/director Andrew Stanton). Which is not to say that Nemo lacks action or adventure — there are numerous edge-of-your-seat set pieces — nor does it come without a valuable message, underscoring the difficulty (and the importance) of letting children develop their own identities. Audiences expected nothing less from Pixar at this point, and rewarded the studio with a worldwide gross just shy of $865 million; meanwhile, critics set aside their usual cynicism for a couple of hours to pronounce Nemo, in the words of Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, “a thing of beauty, hugely entertaining and way cool.”

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5. Inside Out (2015) 98%


(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Pixar made itself the gold standard for animation by combining visual thrills with honest emotions — and that’s more or less the mission statement for Inside Out, which uses a young girl’s cross-country move as the catalyst for an epic adventure that takes place largely in her own mind. Although most of us have never been 11-year-old girls forced to leave our happy Minnesota home for San Francisco, we can all identify the emotions in Riley (Kaitlyn Dias): Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). They’re all thrown out of whack by Riley’s big change, and the turmoil sends Joy and Sadness on a quest to make things right again — leaving Anger, Fear and Disgust running the show, a situation sure to trigger a rueful chuckle out of anyone in the audience old enough to remember adolescence. Director/co-writer Pete Docter’s brilliant concept and poignant underlying message (not to mention that ever-resplendent Pixar animation) made Inside Out one of the studio’s best-reviewed efforts — and one of the most critically beloved movies of the year. “It’s hard to believe that anyone will make a film more ambitious and more fully realized this year than Inside Out,” decreed Tom Long of the Detroit News. “Let the talk of a best picture Oscar win begin now.”

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6. Up (2009) 98%

(Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

After heading into space for WALL-E, Pixar returned to Earth for their next feature, 2009’s Up — but they continued to push the boundaries of mainstream American animation, using a story with a certain amount of surface silliness (grumpy old man uses balloons to send his house airborne and turn his back on society, only to discover a young stowaway) to explore such decidedly serious themes as death, regret, aging, and friendship. Like WALL-E, Up takes its time getting to the speaking parts, opening with an extended musical sequence depicting the decades-long love story between Carl Fredericksen (played by Ed Asner) and his wife Ellie (Elizabeth Docter). Without a single word of dialogue, Up reduced many filmgoers to tears — and it was just getting started. By the time it was all over, Up had taken audiences on a journey from crowded city streets to the tepui mountains of Venezuela, helped mend Carl’s broken heart, shared a message or two, and scored only the second Best Picture Academy Award nomination for an animated feature in history. At 98 percent on the Tomatometer, Up was one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and a favorite of critics such as the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan, who wrote, “Rarely has any film, let alone an animated one powered by the logic of dream and fantasy, been able to move so successfully — and so effortlessly — through so many different kinds of cinematic territory.”

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7. Coco (2017) 97%

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

The concept of death isn’t exactly taboo in animation — as any film lover can tell you, countless classic cartoon characters are orphans, and the loss of a loved one has offered the motivation for many an ultimately heartwarming tale. But it’s rare to see a family-friendly movie whose plot is centered around mortality, let alone one that takes pains to honor the traditions of a culture many viewers consider foreign. Leave it to Pixar to take both leaps with Coco, in which a young Mexican boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is caught between his dreams of being a musician and his obligations to his family. With a story (and overall aesthetic) influenced by the Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos, Coco marked a thematic and visual departure for the studio — which is a big part of why critics responded so warmly, applauding a movie that took the tight storytelling craft and attention to detail that’s become synonymous with the Pixar name and took it someplace fresh enough to avoid feeling like formula. “Not only is it a wholly original story, but it also honors a culture that’s so often overlooked by the movie industry,” wrote Stephanie Merry for the Washington Post. “That alone might have made it a hit, but Coco has so much more to offer.”

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8. The Incredibles (2004) 97%


(Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

Pixar has been known to build a winsome feature around what looks like a questionable storyline, but they’ve also developed some wonderfully original stuff — like 2004’s The Incredibles, which looks at what can happen when a superhero trades in costumed adventure for domestic tranquility too soon. Exiled to a suburban family life after a series of mishaps leads to the government putting the kibosh on super-powered crimefighters, the former Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) deals with the monotony of his new job at an insurance company by sneaking out after hours and upholding truth and justice on the QT with his best friend, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). His secret doesn’t stay secret for long, of course — not from his superhuman wife (Holly Hunter) and kids, and not from the supervillain whose nefarious plot draws them all together. As with roughly 70 percent of all kids’ movies, The Incredibles teaches a lesson about the value of being yourself, but even if the moral of the story isn’t exactly unique, the characters and situations offered a nifty twist on the superhero craze — and writer/director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) proved an excellent addition to the Pixar stable. It is, in the words of ReelViews’ James Berardinelli, an “exemplary mixture of top-notch storytelling, visual razzle-dazzle, accessible humor, and involving action.”

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9. WALL-E (2008) 95%

(Photo by Walt Disney Motion Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

How do you deal with the incredible expectations created by eight films, and almost 15 years, of solid excellence? Conventional wisdom would say to play it safe and fall back on everything that’s worked for you before — but Pixar has never been conventional, and they proved it again with 2008’s WALL-E, a movie that took the studio’s knack for adorable characters and hyper-realistic CG animation and flung it into the uncharted (and even a little avant garde) regions of outer kidvid space. It’s hard to imagine any other studio having success with a family film this idiosyncratic — a movie about a lonely trash-compacting robot with a mostly dialogue-free first act doesn’t exactly scream summer blockbuster — but audiences trusted the Pixar brand enough to show up in droves, and they were rewarded with not only one of the best-reviewed animated releases of 2008, but what was, in the words of the Boston Globe’s Jay Carr, “the best American film of the year to date.” WALL-E came with a surprising bit of controversy, drawing fire from conservative pundits who were annoyed with what they interpreted as a left-wing, anti-business message, but its 96 percent Tomatometer and massive $534 million gross drowned out the chatter. As with just about everything Pixar has done, it works whether you’re looking to be edified or simply entertained; as the New York Times’ A.O. Scott noted, “it is, undoubtedly, an earnest (though far from simplistic) ecological parable, but it is also a disarmingly sweet and simple love story, Chaplinesque in its emotional purity.”

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10. Ratatouille (2007) 96%

(Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

For anyone who’d been counting down the days until Pixar’s inevitable downfall, the period between the lukewarm critical reception afforded Cars and the debut of 2007’s Ratatouille seemed like it might be the beginning of the end: not only was the studio working on a movie with a rather unappetizing protagonist — a rat who wanted to be a gourmet chef — but the movie itself had something of a troubled journey to the screen, including a Pixar-mandated director swap that ousted the film’s creator, Jan Pinkava, and replaced him with Brad Bird. All’s well that ends well, though, and by the time Ratatouille reached theaters in June of ’07, it was abundantly clear that all the creative turmoil had paid off — not only did it provide Pixar with another box office bonanza, gathering up more than $621 million in worldwide receipts, but it quickly established itself as yet another critical winner for the studio, ending up with a 96 percent Tomatometer rating and a bunch of glowing reviews from critics like Newsweek’s David Ansen, who called it “a film as rich as a sauce béarnaise, as refreshing as a raspberry sorbet, and a lot less predictable than the damn food metaphors and adjectives all us critics will churn out to describe it. OK, one more and then I’ll be done: it’s yummy.”

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11. Monsters, Inc. (2001) 96%

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It starred Billy Crystal as a fast-talking schemer who was physically dwarfed by his sidekick, but despite that surface similarity to the misbegotten My Giant, Pixar hit another home run with its fourth feature, 2001’s Monsters, Inc. The tale of Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), two employees of the titular kiddie-scaring company, Monsters imagines a world in which children’s screams are the energy source that powers the secret city of Monstropolis — and one in which the monsters themselves are just 9-to-5 clock punchers with problems of their own, such as mistakenly letting a child follow them back to the office. Mike and Sulley are worried about more than just getting written up — the monsters believe the children are toxic — but they soon discover that not only is inter-species harmony possible, but it may hold the key to their civilization’s looming energy crisis. It’s admittedly rather heady stuff for a family-friendly CGI comedy, but Pixar has always been good at slipping subtext into a candy-colored shell, and Monsters, Inc. is no different. “The analogy to our dependence on, say, oil is soon abandoned, the better to blur the distinction between abstract and concrete,” wrote Lisa Alspector of the Chicago Reader, pointing out “something older viewers of this 2001 animated adventure may appreciate more than younger ones.”

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12. Finding Dory (2016) 94%

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It’s rare to find a sequel that actually feels like an organic addition to its predecessor’s story — and even rarer to see one that manages to deepen that story in an unexpected way. Leave it to Pixar to pull off both feats with Finding Dory. In Finding Nemo, the titular blue tang (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) offered kind companionship to a panicked clownfish (Albert Brooks) searching for his son — and her near-total short-term memory loss gave audiences lots of laughs along the way. This time out, Dory’s condition isn’t really a laughing matter; as we learn early on, it’s been a lifelong burden, and after experiencing an unexpected flashback, she embarks on a quest to heal a deep emotional rift suffered when she was just a little (and impossibly adorable) fish. Every Pixar outing faces a steeper uphill battle than most, and that goes at least double for the studio’s franchise follow-ups, but the vast majority of critics were powerless to deny Finding Dory‘s charms; as Owen Gleiberman wrote for Variety, the result is “a beautiful, rambunctious, and fully felt sequel — a movie totally worth its salt water.”

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13. Incredibles 2 (2018) 93%

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Nearly 15 years after expertly sending up superhero adventures with The Incredibles, Pixar finally delivered a long-discussed sequel — smack dab in the middle of a cinematic landscape that had come to be largely dominated by costumed crimefighters during the decade leading up to Incredibles 2. But if the number of superheroes at the cineplex had multiplied in their absence, Pixar’s Parr family still managed to stand with the best of them, picking up right where they left off in the original and taking audiences on another death-defying adventure that also managed to leave room for funny and occasionally poignant observations on marriage, parenthood, and personal responsibility. If it wasn’t quite as powerful as its predecessor, it still managed to defy the odds and come pretty close; as Tomris Laffly wrote for Time Out, “At a time when movie screens are clogged with indistinguishable superheroes, Incredibles 2 rises above the noise with its defiantly humane soul.”

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14. A Bug's Life (1998) 92%

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Inspired by Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper — memorably animated in the Silly Symphonies short titled, suitably, The Grasshopper and the Ants — Pixar’s John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton spearheaded the development of Pixar’s second feature, A Bug’s Life, the story of a nonconformist ant named Flik (voiced by Dave Foley) who ventures beyond his colony’s island shores to recruit an army of bugs that can defend them from a gang of mean-spirited grasshoppers (led by Kevin Spacey). When the naïve Flik mistakes a group of circus performers (including Denis Leary as a sass-mouthed ladybug) for fighters, the stage is set for another round of CGI-fueled family fun. Though A Bug’s Life was overshadowed somewhat by DreamWorks Animation’s superficially similar Antz, and critics weren’t quite as unanimous in their praise as they’d been for Toy Story, neither a $363 million worldwide gross nor a 91 percent Tomatometer are anything to sneer at — and in the end, as CNN’s Paul Tatara observed, “if this movie doesn’t make you smile you may not know how.”

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15. Monsters University (2013) 80%

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Nine times out of 10, a prequel that films a dozen years after its predecessor will have to replace pretty much its entire cast. But that rule doesn’t apply in animation, as Monsters University reminded us in 2013, when it reunited Monsters, Inc. stars Billy Crystal and John Goodman for a look at how Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan met back in their college days. Without the nifty storytelling twist that inspired Inc., University was little more than a chance for Crystal and Goodman to riff off each other in a fairly standard campus coming-of-age story, but given the prodigious talents of the chemistry-rich duo – ably aided and abetted by a stellar supporting cast that included Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina, and Charlie Day – that proved to be more than enough for most critics. “Execution matters,” noted Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri. “Verve, and energy, and inventiveness matter. And Monsters University is funny, fast, and likable, with occasional moments of real visual surprise and laugh-out-loud offhand gags.”

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16. Brave (2012) 78%

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Princesses have made Disney some pretty big bucks over the years, but by 2012, Pixar’s creative team could feel the cultural tide turning against damsels in distress. Enter Brave, in which a classic medieval story about an impetuous king’s daughter gets a postmodern twist – and forsakes the tired old princely rescue narrative in favor of a story about the timeless, occasionally troubled bonds between girls and their mothers. And while critics weren’t shy about arguing that Brave‘s depiction of the fraught dynamic between feisty princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her steadfastly traditional mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), could have gone even further in upending decades of conservative Disney storytelling, most agreed that the movie’s positives outweighed its drawbacks – including the raucously funny work turned in by Billy Connolly as the beleaguered King Fergus. As TIME’s Richard Corliss sniffled, “By the climax, at which all right-thinking viewers will have dissolved in a puddle of warm appreciation, the new Pixar film has earned two cheers and a big bear hug.”

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17. The Good Dinosaur (2015) 76%

Pixar’s legacy is certainly impressive, but there are definite downsides to setting the bar so high — not the least of which is the way people tend to see your efforts as subpar if they aren’t quite up to your loftiest standards. Such is the case with 2015’s The Good Dinosaur: by most accounts a heartwarming and beautifully animated effort, it nevertheless found itself on the losing end of (arguably unfair) comparisons to Pixar’s earlier work — not to mention Inside Out, which bowed on DVD/Blu-ray mere weeks before Dinosaur arrived in theaters. Still, casting a tall critical shadow is a nice problem to have, and although its Tomatometer isn’t quite as robust as other entries in the Pixar filmography, it’s still impressive in any other context. As Alison Willmore observed for BuzzFeed, “If The Good Dinosaur falls low in the rankings of the company’s now 16 titles, it is still leagues finer than the flurry of frenetic colors and screwball pacing of the standard children’s animated movie.”

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18. Cars (2006) 74%

(Photo by Walt Disney courtesy Everett Collection)

Even the most successful family can have a black sheep, and at a relatively paltry 74 percent on the Tomatometer, 2006’s Cars was Pixar’s for a long time — at least, until its sequel came along. While not poor enough to break the studio’s chain of Fresh certifications, the reviews that greeted this John Lasseter-directed tale of a young racecar (Owen Wilson) and his quest to wrest the Piston Cup from a pair of challengers (Michael Keaton and Richard Petty) weren’t up to the usual Pixar standard; whether dismissing it as unoriginal (Christy Lemire of the Associated Press accused it of “[ripping] off Doc Hollywood, almost note for note) or overlong (the Chicago Reader’s J.R. Jones called it “not a test of speed but endurance”), the critics concluded that Cars ran a little too rough to stand alongside earlier classics. Audiences didn’t mind, though — it grossed over $460 million — and even if it didn’t measure up to Pixar’s previous efforts, it was still good enough to earn praise from scribes like Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News, who wrote, “no other outfit can match Pixar’s knack for plucking heartstrings without tearing them off the frets.”

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19. Cars 3 (2017) 69%

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

We’ve been trained to expect a lot from Pixar over the years, and when one of their movies isn’t poignant, thought-provoking, hilarious, and visually dazzling, it can feel like a pretty big letdown. Enter the studio’s Cars franchise: while plenty of fun in the context of just about any other company’s output, it’s the black sheep of the Pixar catalog, and critical reaction for the first two films in the series (and their cousins in the Planes franchise) ranged from mild disappointment to outright disdain. It’s rare for the third film in a trilogy to improve upon its predecessors, so there was little reason to expect Cars 3 would enjoy a critical rebound, but it proved to be something of a happy surprise; although not on par with Pixar’s finest — and a notch below the original Cars — it impressed critics with a storyline that manages to inject some intelligence and honest emotion into the anthropomorphic automotive saga. “If you can roll with it,” wrote Glenn Kenny for the New York Times, “the movie is both breezy fun and a pain-free life lesson delivery vehicle.”

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20. Cars 2 (2011) 40%

(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Cars did well at the box office – and well enough with critics – but it was far from the first Pixar film most fans thought of when entertaining thoughts of possible sequels to the studio’s hits. The movie had one important fan, however, in director John Lasseter, who also happened to be the chief creative officer at Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and DisneyToon Studios; once he became convinced there needed to be a Cars 2, a follow-up was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, when the movie arrived in theaters in 2011, it found few critics who agreed with Lasseter; in fact, Cars 2 went down as Pixar’s biggest critical dud to date, scoring an uninspired 39 percent on the Tomatometer while being roundly derided as a merchandising-driven misstep from a studio that had trained audiences to expect the best. Still, as a pleasantly undemanding diversion for younger viewers, Cars 2 had its defenders, with a handful of critics pointing out that the movie – which reunites most of the original voice cast for a story that sends Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) out to compete in the World Grand Prix while Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) bungles through a bit of international espionage – wouldn’t be held up to such scrutiny if any other company had produced it. “Minor Pixar, but it would be a major film were it made by just about anyone else,” wrote Deadspin’s Will Leitch. “I, for one, will not get greedy.”

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As Thanksgiving approaches, stuff yourself on this platter of the 24 biggest, most famous movie turkeys — movies audiences had anticipated, expected, and even hoped to be Fresh on the Tomatometer, only to come out Rotten as branded by the critics. (Only movies made after Rotten Tomatoes came into existence, though! Because, Ishtar, we’re nice people.)

Now that Finding Dory has hit theaters, the Finding Nemo cinematic universe joins the growing list of franchises Pixar has kickstarted over their history. Only seven feature films in the studio’s stable have yet to become a franchise: Which one of them do you want to see get a sequel?

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This weekend, two new releases opened big as Pixar’s 3D animated sequel Cars 2 and the raunchy Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher both excited their target audiences pumping in nearly $100M worth of ticket sales at the North American box office.

Scoring its twelfth number one hit, Pixar’s Cars 2 finished in first place by a mile with an estimated $68M during its opening weekend making for the fourth biggest June debut ever behind Toy Story 3 ($110.3M), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($109M), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ($93.7M). The Disney release raced into 4,115 theaters – a new high for a Pixar toon – and averaged a stellar $16,525. The strength of the Pixar brand and the Cars franchise meant more to audiences than the flood of negative reviews from critics who gave the animation studio what were by far its worst marks ever.

Audiences continued to show their distrust of 3D as those screens contributed just 40% of the gross. That follows opening weekend shares of 45% for Kung Fu Panda 2 last month and 56% for Rio in April despite the fact that Pixar has always been the leader of computer animation. Among Pixar films, the Cars 2 opening was on par with the $68.1M of 2009’s Up which was the first 3D offering from the studio but, as expected, well below the launch of Toy Story 3 from a year ago.


In the world of cartoons, Cars has been one of the most successful brands when it comes to merchandising, consistently selling products long after the original film bowed to $60.1M in June 2006. That free in-home advertising helped the sequel. Film critics may have rejected Cars 2, but kids were truly excited and they – and their parents – are the ones who spend at the box office. And those customers liked the spy-themed sequel as the CinemaScore grade was an A-. With a hefty budget of $200M, Cars 2 has a long road ahead of it to make back the production and marketing costs. However since Pixar films usually reach about four times their opening weekend tallies, this one could match or exceed the $244.1M of its predecessor. Plus overseas grosses should get a major shot in the arm thanks to a strong international market for 3D and the film’s global setting that takes the story to Tokyo, Paris, London, and the Italian Riviera.

Cameron Diaz enjoyed one of the best openings of her career with the raunchy school comedy Bad Teacher which powered well ahead of expectations to debut to an estimated $31M. The Sony release averaged a terrific $10,167 from only 3,049 locations and played best to adult women who have been underserved in recent weeks thanks to male-skewing action films topping the charts all month leading into this weekend. Reviews were mixed though more negative than positive, and audiences did not find it all that enjoyable either with the CinemaScore grade being a disappointing C+. But starpower from Diaz along with co-stars Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake helped to drive in business as did an interesting story involving a foul-mouthed and underachieving middle school teacher trying to score herself a sugar daddy. The studio’s marketing push was effective too.


Films that Diaz has anchored solo have generally fared poorly at the box office while those with other famous co-stars have opened better but still below Teacher. Last summer’s Knight & Day with Tom Cruise bowed to $20.1M (with $27.4M over 5 days) while 2008’s What Happens in Vegas with Ashton Kutcher debuted to $20.2M. Her overall top openings have come from the Shrek and Charlie’s Angels franchises which were much more expensive productions compared to her new R-rated comedy which reportedly cost only $20M. Exit polls showed that 63% of the crowd was female and 57% was 25 and older. With nothing similar to Bad Teacher opening over next weekend’s Independence Day holiday session, the studio hopes to keep attendance high for at least another week so it can get on track to reach the $100M mark.

The big budget super hero pic Green Lantern collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 66% to an estimated $18.4M giving the studio a disappointing $89.3M in the first ten days. That was less than what past June comic book films have done in the same amount of time including 2005’s Batman Begins ($103.2M), 2003’s Hulk ($100.6M), 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($97.5M), and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk ($97.1M). The Marvel heroes all finished in the $130-135M range while Christopher Nolan’s Caped Crusader reboot had good legs and topped $200M. Given the public’s rejection of Green Lantern, and Tuesday night’s arrival of the newest Transformers film, a lackluster final domestic take of around $120-125M may result. Overseas results for Warner Bros. have not been too strong so far.

In its third weekend, the sci-fi thriller Super 8 collected an estimated $12.1M for fourth place. Off 44%, the $50M Paramount release has taken in a solid $95.2M and may end its run with an impressive $125-135M. Produced for one-fourth of the budget of Green Lantern and backed by a less costly marketing campaign, Super 8 should end up with a larger domestic gross.


Fox grabbed the next two spots with its latest summer titles. The Jim Carrey family comedy Mr. Popper’s Penguins held up moderately well in its second weekend despite new competition for kids dropping 44% to an estimated $10.3M. With $39.4M in ten days, a $70M final seems likely. The super hero pic X-Men: First Class grossed an estimated $6.6M, down 45%, giving the studio $132.8M to date.

R-rated wedding comedies The Hangover Part II and Bridesmaids kept bringing in audiences with estimates of $5.9M and $5.4M, respectively. The Warner Bros. sequel fell 42% and has banked $243.9M to date while Universal’s sleeper sensation eased by only 24% putting the remarkable total at $146.7M. Both Bridesmaids and Super 8 have displayed good legs and will be very profitable proving that good filmmaking can often trump lavish marketing at the box office.

Rounding out the top ten were two films from opposite ends of the budget spectrum. Disney’s pricey 3D fourquel Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides slipped only 29% to an estimated $4.7M boosting the domestic tally to $229.1M. Woody Allen’s modestly priced runaway hit Midnight in Paris dipped by a scant 8% to an estimated $4.5M giving Sony Classics $28.6M to date. A final gross topping $50M is not out of the question.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $166.8M which was up 8% from last year when Toy Story 3 stayed in the top spot with $59.3M in its second frame; but down 13% from 2009 when Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened at number one with $109M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

This week at the movies, we’ve got animated autos (Cars 2, with voice work from Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy) and execrable educators (Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake). What do the critics have to say?

Cars 2


Pixar’s output has been so good for so long that it seemed unfathomable that one of the studio’s films would get a less-than-rapturous response from critics. Well, all good things must come to an end, and that now includes Pixar’s streak of Certified Fresh releases; critics say Cars 2 looks fantastic, but the studio’s trademark storytelling prowess and character development is MIA here, and the result is a decent animated feature that must count as a big disappointment, given the standards that Pixar has set for itself. This time out, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is off to a big international race with his best buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) in, ahem, tow. Soon, though Mater finds himself in the middle of a secret espionage mission. Will he still be able to help Lightning in his quest to be the fastest car in the world? The pundits say Cars 2 is visually delightful, but its plot is uninspired, and it’s over reliant on gags and shtick instead of an interesting story. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run though Pixar’s filmography in chronological order.)

Bad Teacher


There’s no shortage of tasteless Hollywood comedies in the world, but it’s rare that a movie gets criticized for not being tasteless enough. However, such is the case with Bad Teacher, which critics say has moments of raunchy hilarity but doesn’t quite fulfill its outrageous premise. Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth, a boozy, wildly inappropriate middle school teacher who’s looking for a sugar daddy so she can leave her job behind. Elizabeth falls for a hunky substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), but she’s got a rival for his affections, and soon, her scheming and bad behavior starts to affect the whole school. The pundits say Bad Teacher benefits from a sharp performance from Diaz, but it sags in spots, and it’s never quite as wild and transgressive as it should be.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Before becoming a trusted global brand and before fostering the greatest animation renaissance since the pie-eyed dreams of Walt Disney, Pixar was a small Lucasfilm unit creating industry tools and movie effects.

And before even that, John Lasseter, Pixar CFO and chief visioneer for much of the company’s life, was working at Disney. Below is a 1983 animation test he directed at Disney, demonstrating the potential of 3D computer graphics with a Where The Wild Things Are adaptation.

The potential of CG came into clearer focus when Lucasfilm distributed The Adventures of Andre and Wally B in 1984. Developed in-house by The Graphics Group (directed by Alvy Ray Smith, animated by Lasseter), the fully CG short was attached to showings of Brazil.

In 1986, Steve Jobs, ever the plucky entrepreneur, purchased The Graphics Group from Lucasfilm. Rechristened Pixar, the company grew on a business model that maintained their path of creating computer industry tools while exploring their more artistic inclinations. Beach Chair is one of two famous animation tests from that year. (The other, Waving Flags, can be found as an easter egg on the Pixar Short Films Collection.)

Pixar also produced their first short in 1986, Luxo Jr., featuring the signature desk lamps and star ball. (See Pixar’s three other pre-Toy Story shorts on page 2.)

As the CG short film market was tough (e.g. non-existent) in the 80s, Pixar supported themselves with commercial and educational work. They produced a series of Sesame Street shorts with Luxo Jr. and Luxo Sr. teaching the principle of opposites. (See three more Pixar-created Sesame Street shorts on page 3.)

Along the way, Pixar amassed a huge portfolio of television commercial work, many instantly recognizable to all the ’90s kids reading this today. Just like the previous efforts, the commercials lean heavily on giving life to inanimate objects, a talent and joy carried over into the creation of Toy Story. (See six more Pixar commercials on page 4.)

Then in 1995, as an alternative to their traditional animated work, Disney sent Toy Story out into theaters. The rest is history. Pixar’s 12th feature, Cars 2, arrives nationwide this Friday.

Pixar produced four shorts from 1986 to 1989. The first, Luxo Jr., was nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. 1988’s Tin Toy took home the big trophy.

Get ’em when they’re young: Three education shorts created by Pixar for Sesame Street.

Six commercials created by Pixar. And thus giving rise to a generation of children with lifelong allegiance to Nabisco.

Dust off the magnifying glass because we’re going on an auto hunt! Disney has released an interactive mega poster for Cars 2, featuring the Pixar cast spread over an international panoramic landscape. There’s Lightning McQueen in Tokyo! By the Tower Bridge, it’s the Queen! And check out Luigi and Guido lookin’ quite at home in Rome. See the mega poster below and discover each of the 27 characters for facts, videos, and more.

Cars 2 is out in theaters everywhere June 24th.

The most widely-known animation awards ceremony, the Annies, have announced their nominations, with 10 films vying for top honors this year.

Best Animated Feature

The Adventures of Tintin


Arthur Christmas


Cars 2


A Cat in Paris


Chico & Rita


Kung Fu Panda 2


Puss in Boots







Animated Effects in an Animated Production

Puss in Boots: Can Yuksel

Rango: Chase Cooper

Winnie the Pooh: Dan Lund

Kung Fu Panda 2: Dave Tidgewell

Cars 2: Eric Froemling

Kung Fu Panda 2: Jason Mayer

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Joel Aron

Cars 2: Jon Reisch

Winner! The Adventures of Tintin: Kevin Romond

Rango: Willi Geiger

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Branko Grujcic

Winner! Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Florent Andarra

Cowboys & Aliens: Lee Uren

Character Animation in an Animated Production

Winnie the Pooh: Andreas Deja

Kung Fu Panda 2: Dan Wagner

Winner! Rio: Jeff Gabor

Winnie the Pooh: Mark Henn

Puss in Boots: Olivier Staphylas

Rio: Patrik Puhala

Kung Fu Panda 2: Patrik Puhala

Character Animation in a Live Action Production

HOP: Andy Arnett

Paul: David Lowry

Winner! Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Eric Reynolds

Paul: Mike Hull

Character Designer in a Feature Production

Cars 2: Jay Shuster

Winner! Rango: Mark “Crash” McCreery

Puss in Boots: Patrick Mate

Arthur Christmas: Peter de Seve

Rio: Sergio Pablos

Directing in a Feature Production

Rio: Carlos Saldahna

Puss in Boots: Chris Miller

Winnie the Pooh: Don Hall, Stephen Anderson

Rango: Gore Verbinski

Winner! Kung Fu Panda 2: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Gnomeo & Juliet: Kelly Asbury

Music in a Feature Production

Puss in Boots: Henry Jackman

Winner! The Adventures of Tintin: John Williams

Rio: Mikael Mutti, Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, Sergio Mendes, John Powell

Winnie the Pooh: Zooey Deschanel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez

Production Design in a Feature Production

Cars 2: Harley Jessup

Winnie the Pooh: Paul Felix

Winner! Kung Fu Panda 2: Raymond Zilbach

Rio: Tom Cardone, Kyle MacNaughton, Peter Chan

Storyboard in a Feature Production

Puss in Boots: Bob Logan

Rango: David Grosman

Kung Fu Panda 2: Gary Graham

Winner! Winnie the Pooh: Jeremy Spears

Rango: Josh Hayes

Arthur Christmas: Kris Pearn

Gnomeo and Juliet: Nelson Yokota

Kung Fu Panda 2: Philip Craven

Cars 2: Scott Morse

Voice Acting in a Feature Production

Arthur Christmas: Ashley Jensen

Winner! Arthur Christmas: Bill Nighy

Kung Fu Panda 2: Gary Oldman

Kung Fu Panda 2: James Hong

Rio: Jemaine Clement

Gnomeo and Juliet: Zach Galiafianakis

Writing in a Feature Production

Winnie the Pooh: Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson

Winner! Rango: John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit

Arthur Christmas: Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham

The Adventures of Tintin: Steve Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cronish

Editing in a Feature Production

Kung Fu Panda 2: Clare Knight, A.C.E.

Winner! Rango: Craig Wood, A.C.E.

Puss in Boots: Eric Dapkewicz

The Adventures of Tintin: Michael Kahn

Cars 2: Stephen Schaffer, A.C.E.

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