This month Pixar celebrates its thirtieth birthday which might make you feel incredibly old until you remember that they didn’t release any feature films until 1995.
From Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, the studio has released 16 feature films in its lifetime and whilst not all of them have been unprecedented successes (Cars 2), most of them have. To date, they have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature more times than any other studio.
I could name any Pixar feature film and you would most likely have heard of it if not watched it, but what about their shorts?
If you’ve gone to see a Pixar feature film in the cinema since 1997 then you’ve seen one of their short films – they play just before the actual film.
Growing up, I just wanted to watch a movie and I distinctly remember being unsure of what the shorts were but as I’ve grown up I actually look forward to them. Animated shorts films are difficult to get right: you have to create a story – usually without any dialogue – and make it entertaining, visually impressive, and even emotional. Basically, the demands of a feature film but with a two minute limit.
Pixar excels in this and I think it’s something that’s consistently overlooked when examining their achievements so I’ve made a list of my top 5 Pixar shorts:
5) Tin Toy (1988)
This fills an entirely different criteria to the rest of the short films on this list. Firstly it must be said that the progress in regard to the quality of Pixar animation can most easily be tracked through the shorts – this is a very early work (their 4th, to be exact). What I suppose was intended as a cute story about a baby and a toy is terrifying. Honestly, watch it. Hell, watch it in HD if you really want some nightmares.
4) Luxo Jr. (1986)
For me this is just like watching history. You know the desk lamp in the Pixar logo? Well, you can think of this as its origin story. Whilst this is officially the second Pixar short to be made, the first is so awful that I’d prefer to just pretend that it doesn’t exist. This is a real testament to Pixar and an early example of how they can evoke emotions through the most unlikely characters – in this case, a lamp.
3) One Man Band (2005)
Now, we’re getting into more recent times and the animation is closer to what our eyes are used to. My favourite thing about this particular film is the music: it’s beautiful and so well composed and it just seems to match the animation. The story is also very cute and I smile every time that I watch it.
2) La Luna (2012)
La Luna is just one of those things that is guaranteed to make me cry. It’s not a sad story, there isn’t any emotional dialogue – it’s genuinely just the beauty of it. The animation style fits in with the otherworldly-magical feel of the story. My favourite moment is when the child falls from the star and in his face you just see pure joy – that sounds kind of dark but watch it and you’ll understand.
1) Presto (2008)
I’m not sure why I love Presto so much: it played before Wall-E in cinemas (the one Pixar film that I have never watched) so maybe that’s why it always feels new to me. It feels like an old-style cartoon – it’s loud and bold. In the end the reason that this is my favourite Pixar short boils down to the fact that it just makes me happy whenever I watch it.
Did I miss out any of your favourites? What do you love about Pixar? Let me know in the comments.