The Pixar Film Tournament – Semifinals

Welcome to the Semifinals of the Pixar Tournament, where we are now down to our Final 4. The Quarterfinals saw our closest calls yet, so hopefully we’ll follow up that with more healthy competition today.

Only one film in my personal Top 4 has made it to stage – and I assume many have seen all their favorites wiped out already. But even if you have grumblings about how the field has been narrowed down (and I do welcome all grumblings in the comments), hopefully you appreciate the remaining contenders enough to want to see the best film remaining win.

Results Recap / Commentary

  • Wall-E defeats Toy Story 65-37Toy Story came into this tournament as the Top Seed – having received more upvotes than any other film in the preliminary. It being upset here suggests that while everyone pretty much agreed the film that started it all merited a spot in the bracket, voters were less inclined to think they could justify it going all the way. I agree it would have been hard to claim Toy Story remained Pixar’s best after 25 years of masterpieces. But I don’t want to undercut how staggering, industry changing of an achievement it was – and it’s still a damn good film. As I’ve mentioned – I carried around my own Woody everywhere as a little kid, and he remains my favorite character in the Pixar cannon.
  • Coco defeats Monsters Inc 56-40Coco is the Cinderella story of the tournament – coming in as the 11th seed, with its 43 upvotes in the preliminaries making it seem a tier below the many films with upvotes in the 50s (including Monsters Inc). It’s a surprise finalists, but I can sort of get why it’s been perceived in its matchups so far as the film worthier of recognition. But as for me, Monsters Inc does hold a slot in my personal top 4. I think the concept of the world the monsters in your closet come from is one of Pixar’s most brilliant, it’s the right mix of humor and touching, and the climax with all the different doors is possibly Pixar’s most memorable set piece. I didn’t have high expectations for it in this tournament knowing it’s less often held up as a standout by others – but it’s strong performances in earlier rounds gave me hope it could be a dark horse.
  • The Incredibles defeats Inside Out 53-49:  As soon as I saw the bracket setting up this matchup, I knew it be contentious – frankly, this might have been my prediction for the last two standing, and feel that would have been a satisfying final. Many think highly of both, but I also see them possibly appealing to distinct sensibilities among  Pixar’s fans. I appreciated Demyx’s case for Inside Out yesterday and recommend people give it a look. Inside Out would also have been in my dream Final Four – Pixar lets its imagination completely run lose with the world of the mind, I found moments like Riley’s awkward introduction to the class brutally relatable, and it has one of the most emotionally intelligent conclusions of any family film out there.
  • Ratatouille defeats Toy Story 2 52-49: Brad Bird gets double Final Four slots with this very close victory. I won’t be coy about this – in light of the other results, either of these would my personal favorite film left in the tournament if they had survived. So I’m not unhappy with this turn of events. But I am a bit disappointed no representative of the Toy Story franchise survived to the Final Four. That would have felt appropriate, and it seems to me like Toy Story was hurt by being a franchise with multiple great films, so there wasn’t enough energy supporting any individual entry.

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As I’ve mentioned,  I think this tournament has been a little abnormally high on upsets, given The Incredibles is the only surviving film which was in the Top 4 of the preliminary vote. That’s at least partly owed to the fact that in reality, most of the top films are very close to each other in people’s mind – making this less of a tournament where the finalists were inevitable from the start.

I have a definite prediction in mind of who’s likely to win from here – but I’ve been wrong enough it really could be up in the air still. So be sure to vote on and rigorously discuss the final four below. Love to see people making the case for their favorite. You can look at the full tournament bracket here.

As we’re near the finish I’ll give a little more time for this round to be settled – with voting closing on Thursday morning (close to 48 hours after I finish posting this).