5. Monsters, Inc.
For my money, Monsters, Inc. doesn’t get enough credit. Aided by a creative and fully realized environment that welcomes clever visual gags and inspired character designs at every turn, it’s among the freshest and most innovative films the company has produced to date, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the funniest and sweetest too. Billy Crystal and John Goodman share a fruitful chemistry together as our two mismatched leads, Mike and Sully, one that’s build on a genuine sense of compassion and a fitfully rousing love for one another’s company. It’s the kind of bromance that always feels truthful and deep, even if we never really see their full history together. But we don’t need to see it, even if the company thought otherwise when they made Monsters University, because we can always feel their compassion and deep-seated care for one another. Crystal, Goodman and the team of animators and filmmakers at Pixar can make us feel like we know characters that we never expected to feel for, that we never expected to understand. That’s why they’re among the best of our time — at least, in their prime.
And, of course, to celebrate Monsters, Inc. without bringing up the cuddly father-daughter relationship shared between Sully and Boo would be an absolute sin. If Sully and Mike are the soul of the film, then Sully and Boo are the heart. All this innovative storytelling won’t make the impact if they didn’t land the emotional core but, of course, they pluck the heart strings with vibrato. The endearment shared between two different personalities is a familiar plight, but one that Pixar does best. They understand that, in the end, we’re all a little human and we’re all a little monstrous. It’s just about channeling that in a way that makes you come alive. And there’s nothing scary about that.