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What Movies Has Pixar Made?
By Robert Vaux
Source: Pixar's official home page
Pixar Studios, which started out as director George Lucas' special-effects computer group, began making computer-animated shorts in the mid-1980s. The company's work proved popular with festival crowds and animation buffs, but it wasn't until its first effort at a feature-length computer-animated film that it truly hit the big time. "Toy Story," released in 1995, became an instant sensation and started a track record of Pixar films anticipated and beloved by moviegoers. As of the summer of 2009, Pixar has released 10 feature films, all of which have proven to be critical and box-office successes.
"Toy Story"The genesis of Pixar success was a 1995 feature directed by Pixar founder John Lasseter. It featured the voice of Tom Hanks as a cowboy doll named Woody, leader of a boy's bedroom of secretly sentient toys who become threatened when a new Buzz Lightyear action figure (voiced by Tim Allen) enters their midst.
"A Bug's Life"The success of "Toy Story" let to a second, equally successful endeavor in 1998. "A Bug's Life," directed by Lasseter and Andrew Stanton---served as a retelling of Akira Kurosawa's classic "Seven Samurai," with a nest of oppressed ants seeking out heroes in the insect world to save them from depredating locusts.
Toy Story 2The 1999 sequel to "Toy Story" was originally intended for straight-to-video release, but the content proved too strong for such a second-tier platform. Directed by Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Ash Brannon, it featured the return of Woody and Buzz, along with new characters like Buzz's cowgirl friend Jesse (voiced by Joan Cusack) and Buzz's nemesis, Emperor Zurg.
Monsters, Inc.Pixar's fourth feature appeared in 2001, directed by Pete Doctor, Lee Unkrich and David Silverman. It told the story of a secret world of monsters--working Joes who made a living by popping out of children's closets and scaring them. Its animation featured the innovative development of textured fur.
"Finding Nemo"Pixar's biggest hit to date hit screens in 2003: It was "Finding Nemo," the tale of a neurotic clown fish (voiced by Albert Brooks) who ventures across the ocean in search of his missing son. In addition to its groundbreaking depiction of computer-animated water and staggering box-office gross, it constituted another first for Pixar when it won the Best Animated Feature award at the 2003 Oscars.
"The Incredibles"New director Brad Bird took the helm of Pixar's next film, "The Incredibles," in 2004. It took a tongue-in-cheek look at costumed superheroes, as a husband-and-wife team struggled to live a normal life with their super-powered children. Though it didn't equal "Nemo's" box office clout, it was a solid hit and captured the second Best Animated Feature Oscar in a row for Pixar.
"Cars"While Pixar has not yet had a flop, its 2006 feature "Cars" is generally regarded as its least successful film. Directed by John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, it details a world populated solely by sentient automobiles, in which a celebrity race car (voiced by Owen Wilson) learns to appreciate the humble comforts of small-town life.
"Ratatouille"Brad Bird returned to the director's chair in 2007, along with co-director Jan Pinkava, for the tale of a French rat who longs to become a world-class chef. Its blend of Silent-era slapstick and Gallic romance helped secure Pixar's third Best Animated Feature Oscar.
WALL*EPixar's fourth Best Animated Feature Oscar came just a year later, in 2008. "WALL*E," the story of a rugged little robot left behind in a polluted Earth, was notable for lengths of dialogue-free passages and Chaplin-esque slapstick similar to that of "Ratatouille."
Up2009 saw the release of Pixar's 10th feature, "Up," the story of a retired salesman who launched his house into the stratosphere with the help of a massive cloud of helium-filled balloons. It has proved a huge critical and box-office hit.