The love of discussing movies is something you and I share, dear reader. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing here? And with few exceptions, there isn’t any kind of film that I love talking about more than the various works of animation created by talented artists, renderers and storytellers throughout the history of the medium. Few do it better and merit as much discussion as the folks from Emeryville, California’s own Pixar Animation Studios. And with the release of their 13th film this week, a princess story called Brave, it’s reason enough to discuss some of the best individual scenes from the Pixar catalog.
Personally, I’ve never been hooked on franchise pieces like Toy Story or Cars, but have always loved Pixar’s more stand-alone efforts. Many of which, as you’ll see from the assembled list, come from visionary storytellers Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. These filmmakers and their teams have pushed the envelope, even inside the already expansive confines of Pixar’s world. From their films I’ve assembled six Scenes We Love from the films of Pixar Animation Studios. It may not be the definitive list, but it’s certainly the one that lives within my own movie-loving heart.
Finding Nemo: The Barracuda Attack
By the time Nemo came along in 2003, Pixar had done plenty of amazing work. Both Toy Story films were ahead of their time and Monster’s Inc. was alive. But none of that could prepare us for the vibrant nature of Pixar’s world beneath the sea. In this haunting, beautifully animated opening, we first experience the bond between Nemo and his father. We also get the emotional gut-punch of Pixar’s version of the Bambi’s mom scene, but with a twist.
Wall-E and Eve’s Space Dance
There’s no need for dialogue. There’s no need for schmaltzy lyrics. There’s not even any need for gravity. And yet few cinematic dance numbers have been so sweet, so charming and so vastly beautiful as the one created by Andrew Stanton and team for Wall-E and Eve.
Carl and Ellie’s Life in Up
This is perhaps a ten-minute sequence that is unmatched anywhere in the history of cinema. We witness the ups and downs of an entire life shared by two people. An entire life that will drive the rest of a film that could easily be Pixar’s best work. Combined with Michael Giacchino’s Oscar-winning score, there’s nothing but tears left as we meet Carl and Ellie.
Meeting Anton Ego in Ratatouille
There is a buffet of beautiful shots in Brad Bird’s Ratatouille. The first time Remy goes up to the surface and sees Paris is absolutely brilliant. But few of its big shots were quite as interesting as the symbolism and simple spook of meeting critic Anton Ego.
The Plane Sequence in The Incredibles
With The Incredibles, Pixar got quite a bit out of their systems. They showed off an old-fashioned love affair with superheroes, explored the family dynamic with their first primarily human story and proved — especially with this scene — that they could deliver big time action.
The Restaurant Mayhem in Monsters Inc.
Up to the point when we see Boo go into Harry Hausen’s (brilliant), it’s not easy to see the panic that can be caused by Sully’s new friend. Then, of course, all heck breaks loose and Monsters Inc., as it does so often, explodes with colorful, manic energy.
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