The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #18 Inside Out

The DONALD Rankings are scores for Disney animated films that combine personal opinion with a pseudo-scientific veneer of hard data. For a full introduction to the DONALD system, please go here. Contribute your scores in the comments!

The next film on our Top 20 list is Inside Out from Pixar, which won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Based on a story by director Pete Docter (Up) and co-director Ronnie del Carmen (a key story guy at Pixar since 2000), Inside Out follows the life of 11-year-old Riley Andersen through the lens of five personified emotions that control her interaction: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

I suspect the insides of most 11-year-old's heads is much weirder than this.
I suspect the inside of a typical 11-year-old’s head is actually much weirder than this.

Inside Out is anchored by an extraordinary and complex story, with deeper concepts not often found in a family film. It was also the first Pixar film created without input from studio co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011. Pixar moved forward with admirable poise, especially when contrasted to the precipitous dip in quality at Walt Disney Animation Studios that followed the passing of their visionary founder in 1966.

Inside Out received universal critical acclaim, and was screened at all of the swankiest gatherings of film buffs, including the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was praised as the strongest Pixar film in recent years, and reviewers used expressions like “transcendent,” “buoyant,” and “therapeutic” in their breathless descriptions.

But how does it stack up against the greatest Disney animated films of all time? Pretty well, actually…

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The DONALD Rankings Top 20: #19 Finding Nemo

The DONALD Rankings are scores for Disney animated films that combine personal opinion with a pseudo-scientific veneer of hard data. For a full introduction to the DONALD system, please go here. Contribute your scores in the comments!

Welcome back the top twenty of the Deep Forest Outpost DONALD Rankings. Today we continue our countdown with the Pixar gem Finding Nemo.

"Have you ever thought about the fact that we swim around in our own poop all the time?"
“Have you ever thought about the fact that we swim around in our own poop all the time?”

When Finding Nemo hit the theaters in 2003, Pixar was still an independent studio distributing under the Walt Disney Studios banner. Their films were also a high point in the flagging animation division at Disney*. Both groups threatened to walk away ahead of their merger in 2006, citing massive executive egos and demands for more money and power as the reasons for the divide (more or less).

[*Disney’s animated releases during the Pixar distribution deal included Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Probably unnecessary spoiler alert here, but none of those films will be included in the DONALD Top 20.]

Pixar knocked another one out of the ballpark with Finding Nemo, which sparkles with amazing animation, great characters, and a clever story. Their streak of success put Disney in an untenable position. The Mouse House eventually caved, put John Lasseter and Ed Catmull in charge of all animation, and kicked off the next/current renaissance of Disney films.

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