- Pixar has made 20 animated short films since the late ’80s.
- INSIDER believes “The Adventures of André and Wally B.” and “The Blue Umbrella” are among the worst of the batch.
- “Piper” takes the top spot, with “Day and Night” and “Partly Cloudy” in the next two highest slots.
Pixar has been wowing audiences with its groundbreaking animated shorts since the late ’80s, and the mini-stories have became an anticipated part of the experience of seeing a new feature film from the studio.
“Bao,” the animated short which accompanied “Incredibles 2” in theatres in 2018, was just won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards. Let’s take a look back at all the highly successful Pixar shorts through the ages, and see how this latest instalment stacks up to its predecessors.
Keep reading to see INSIDER’s ranking of every Pixar short film.
20. “The Adventures of André and Wally B.” (1984)
Made in 1984, while “Pixar” was still a division at LucasFilm called The Graphics Group, this short was revolutionary for its time. But the brief story of André being woken up by a bee, running away, and then getting stung by said bee, doesn’t hold up to the storytelling standards Pixar would later set.
19. “Red’s Dream” (1987)
Another of John Lasseter’s earliest animated works, “Red’s Dream” tells the melancholy story of an anthropomorphized unicycle who dreams of juggling in the circus. Though this short has the early inklings of Pixar’s knack for drawing emotions from inanimate objects, the creepy clown detracts from its appeal all these years later.
18. “The Blue Umbrella” (2013)
This is one of Pixar’s least-memorable shorts, though the animation of two colourful umbrellas in a sea of black is gorgeous. But the boy-meets-girl trope is overwrought. Pixar has proven its team is capable of more originality than the tale of two umbrellas falling in love.
17. “Tin Toy” (1988)
This was the first CGI short film to win an Oscar, and its groundbreaking technology cannot be overstated. But the uncanny animation of the baby makes “Tin Toy” tough to rewatch. This short still gets a lot of credit for being a clever precursor to one of Pixar’s greatest films: “Toy Story.”
16. “Luxo, Jr.” (1986)
Thought the animation was certainly groundbreaking in 1986 (it was the first animated film ever nominated for an Oscar), we have to take in storytelling along with the historical context of each Pixar short. And this short is definitely short.The brief characterization of two lamps (one of which is a pseudo-toddler) is adorable, but ultimately falls short of having any stakes or moral lesson.
15. “Lifted” (2006)
Smartly taking the concept of a teenager attempting to get a driver’s permit, “Lifted” tells the story of an incompetent alien tasked with lifting a human from their bed in the dead of night. The story has unexpected turns and a good amount of humour. But it misses the heartwarming aspect we know Pixar is capable of.
14. “One Man Band” (2005)
This short has a compelling moral imperative. Two money-hungry adults bully a child into giving up her coin, only to watch it roll down a drain. The young girl then flips the script on them in her own musical act. The fast pace is exhilarating, but overall didn’t seem to advance Pixar’s reputation for storytelling.
13. “Knick Knack” (1989)
The tale of a snowman trapped in a snowglobe who desperately wants to escape (to hang out with the other knick knacks – get it?) has a few grin-inducing surprises. But the leering quality of a frustrated snowman being seduced by bikini-clad “women” is off putting in contemporary context.
12. “Boundin'” (2003)
A strange little moral tale about “rebounding” from the bad times, this story of a proud sheep who gets shorn and then loses his confidence is a cheerful but slightly odd tale. The inclusion of a song and lyrics is also rare for Pixar. Ultimately, “Boundin'” is a solid short but not one of its best.
11. “Geri’s Game” (1997)
Everyone likely has a crystal clear memory of the first Pixar short that blew them away. For many, that’s “Geri’s Game.” Audiences were both riveted and increasingly worried as they watched an elderly man play a game of chess with himself. The short went on to win an Oscar in 1998.
10. “Lava” (2014)
Say what you will about the cheesy, cliche, and downright odd story of two volcanoes falling in love and singing puns, but “Lava” does what Pixar does best – turns the improbable into the emotional. The lyrical dialogue makes “Lava” another unique short and certainly one for the books.
9. “Lou” (2017)
“Lou” tells a crushingly sweet tale of how the items left in a “lost and found” box come together to create a creature who eventually teaches a schoolyard bully an important lesson. With clever surprises, beautiful animation, and a universal moral at its core, “Lou” encompasses all the best of Pixar.
8. “For the Birds” (2000)
A classic karmic tale of bullying birds, this short is one of the most memorable Pixar shorts. The rendering of texture on the critters’ feathers is still incredible. But its best attribute is the way “For the Birds” tells a crisp story by using nothing but honking animal noises and clever cuts between scenes.
“Bao” is the first Pixar short written and directed by a woman, Domee Shi (who started working at Pixar as an intern in 2011). The short plays brilliantly on audience expectations of anthropomorphism in Disney films when a little steamed bun comes to life.
Those expectations are shattered as the film takes a turn, and we’re left feeling acutely aware of the joys and grief that accompany parenthood.
6. “La Luna” (2011)
The gorgeous imagery of a three-generation family cleaning shooting stars off the surface of the moon is enough to put “La Luna” at the top any list of Pixar shorts. The delicate score and creative storytelling is just a cherry on top.
5. “Presto” (2008)
A clever twist on a classic cartoon rabbit, à la Bugs Bunny, “Presto” is one of Pixar’s funniest shorts with a deluge of physical comedy paired expertly with an orchestral score. The running gags involved with a real magic hat and a rightfully angry rabbit will keep you riveted.
4. “Sanjay’s Super Team”
“Sanjay’s Super Team” tells an incredibly deep and moving story about a young boy (Sanjay) and his religious father. The two find common ground when Sanjay realises the gods his father is worshiping aren’t so different from the super heroes he admires on TV. And it does all this with zero dialogue and beautiful animation.
3. “Partly Cloudy” (2009)
Taking the classic stork mythology and putting a Pixar twist on it, “Partly Cloudy” is a heartening tale of friendship, loyalty, and the lesson that even the least cuddly of creatures deserves a loving a home. Yet another short with unexpectedly tear-jerking moments, we could watch “Partly Cloudy” again and again.
2. “Day and Night” (2010)
The creative chops on the team who made “Day and Night” pulled every Pixar trick in the books to smartly use aspects of nature and life to convey emotions. The real kicker comes at the end, when Day and Night join together and listen to the philosophical wanderings of Dr. Wayne Dyer: “The most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious.”
1. “Piper” (2016)
“Piper” was not only a technical masterpiece with mind-blowingly realistic animation, but the storytelling checked every box and then some. With multiple moral layers of good parenting, overcoming fears and setbacks, and learning from fellow creatures on this planet, “Piper” stands above all other Pixar shorts.
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