The Pixar Film Tournament – Quarterfinals

Welcome to the Quarterfinals of the Pixar Tournament. Our sweet 16 from last week has been cut down to 8 contenders. Every matchup has the potential to be a tough one at this point. But before we get to them, here’s recap and commentary on the Round of 16.

  • The Incredibles beats Monsters University 95-12: Our largest blowout – No big surprise here as Monsters University is fun and has a smart message, but I don’t really think could measure up to the top tier of this tournament. While The Incredibles benefited from the easier matchup this round, it sure does look like a heavy weight in this contest.
  • Monsters Inc beats Toy Story 4 88-11: While its prequel is out, Monsters Inc remains alive and well in this contest. I see Toy Story 4 has very similar in nature to Monsters University – it has more than enough heart to it to not feel like a soulless cash grab and no one can say it’s not fun, but still nothing revelatory enough to have been a contender.
  • Toy Story beats Finding Dory 85-18: Mildly interesting that Dory did a little better than the previously mentioned loser sequels, as I think I personally would consider consider it the weakest of Pixar’s recent sequels – I love Hank the Octopus, but don’t think I was on board with the films’ approach to disability issues. I might have preferred Pixar grapple with that theme through original characters.
  • Toy Story 2 beats A Bug’s Life 81-19: Toy Story 2 becomes our last sequel standing with this win. I know A Bug’s Life was among my most rewatched films a child, but can’t say it has stuck with me like the first Toy Stories, my other most rewatched films. Still, it surpassed my expectations in this tournament – it being older and having no sequels to keep it in people’s thoughts, I wasn’t sure it had the fans to get it through the preliminaries.
  • Wall-E beats Finding Nemo 78-32: Having ended up with such a tough matchup probably makes Nemo look less beloved than it is, but this does seem like an underperformance for one of Pixar’s most iconic films (still its highest grossing original worldwide). I’ve never heard a “Finding Nemo isn’t that good” take, but still for whatever reason people online don’t seem to gravitate to it much. It’s a beautiful looking movie and a touching story – one that’s very straightforward, but that just makes it feel more classic.
  • Ratatouille beats Brave 71-34: Brave’s performance in this tournament makes it seem like something a polarizing film – many would put in the more underwhelming pile of Pixar flicks, but it has stalwart fans as well. I was disappointed when I saw it because I didn’t feel like epic adventure the teaser promised was delivered, but I still appreciate the story of a mother/daughter dynamic it does tell.
  • Inside Out beats Toy Story 3 59-47: I believe this was the right result, because I would have felt a lot worse about an early Inside Out knockout than I do for Toy Story 3 (especially given its franchise is still well represented). But still, Toy Story 3 was a very special movie to me as this return to beloved characters from my childhood (I had my own toy Woody I carried everywhere) than managed to knock it out of the park as a wrap up to the trilogy. There’s so many memorable beats in that film for me, I would chart it in my personal Top 5 of Pixar.
  • Coco beats Up 55-51: Our closest match is also our only “upset,” as Up did better than Coco in the preliminaries but lost the head to head. I would have been fine with either result here, as I personally push back against the idea Up is only well remembered for its opening. I understand not considering it top tier Pixar, but I personally love all the zany stuff and all the lush color. And Carl realizing Ellie filled her scrapbook and finding her note ‘Thanks for the Adventure, now go have a new one!” is the biggest tearjerker in the film for me.

I also note that with these results, Pixar’s only Best Picture Nominees (Toy Story 3 and Up) are both out. That comes with the caveat that a few of Pixar’s earlier films might have made it if the category had expanded past 5 nominees already, though there is also at least one Pixar film that came after the category change that seems like it was robbed of a nomination.

Also to keep tabs on Directors (which I do with emphasis, especially in the case of Lasseter’s fims, that these movies required the talents of a ton of artists), Pixar’s central directing talents are all still represented with 2 apiece for Pete Docter, John Lasseter, and Brad Bird plus 1 apiece for Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich. The only person who has directed multiple feature films for Pixar and isn’t represented in this Top 8 is Dan Scalon (Monsters University, Onward).

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Once again, I’ll post the Quartefinal matchups below, and thank you in advance for your votes. You should have at least 24 hours after I’ve posted the match-ups to turn in your votes. You can still check out the Bracket here.