by Dave Boehi
I love movies, and I love lists. So naturally I love the "Best Movies" lists in newspapers and magazines each December. And last month provided a double dip, with "Best Movies" lists for 2009 and for the decade of 2000-2009.
Naturally, these lists are often widely divergent, reflecting the individual preferences of film critics. But as I read through the lists of favorite movies for the decade, I noticed something interesting: Many listed at least one film from Pixar, the studio that has seemingly perfected the art of storytelling through computer animation.
Finding Nemo, for example, was rated the top film of the decade by a critic at the Washington Post. Entertainment Weekly listed Wall-E at number five, and the Daily Mail in Great Britain had The Incredibles at number four. Ratatouille was ranked number two by one of the critics at atthemovies.com.
I guess this would make Pixar the Studio of the Decade. It certainly is my favorite. I can't think of another group that has put together a string of movies with more quality and creativity during the last ten years. As Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News, who rated Wall-E at number two for the decade, writes, "no one makes movies with more heart, wit and staggeringly perfect execution than the Pixar gang."
There are so many things I like about Pixar films: the incredible visuals, the focus on quality storytelling, the edgy cultural references, the consistent appeal to adults just as much (if not more) as to children, and the commitment to bringing a sense of wonder into their movies. Time and again I would read articles speculating that the next Pixar movie would be a bomb. How could they make a good film about monsters ... or a family of superheroes ... or French cooking ... or a robot on a planet full of trash ... or a lonely and crotchety old man ... and make it appeal to both kids and parents? But the same critics raved when they saw the final films, and each movie was a hit.
Recently I rewatched all of the Pixar films released in the last decade, and in the process I spotted another secret of the studio's success: