SOUL (2020)

All the emotional storytelling you’ve come to expect from Pixar wrapped up in stunningly brilliant abstracted visuals and perfect sound design.

In a lot of ways it presents as Ratatouille for music, but it has much more to offer while still keeping a light enough touch that you never feel clubbed over the head by its themes.

The otherwordly soundtrack and score is fantastic (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross doing a Pixar film?!) and the visual design (especially around the astral elements) is absolutely gorgeous.

Of course, you already assume that, going into one of these, and I’m happy to report the quality is strong and rich as ever.

Of the two or three major cinematic releases that dropped to streaming for Xmas this year, this is absolutely the one you should watch.

ONWARD (2020)

Somewhere around the middle of the Pixars — not as stellar as COCO or even the underrated RATATOUILLE, but comes back in the third act with an unexpected final stretch that puts it above, say, the similarly medium MONSTERS UNIVERSITY or BRAVE.

Feels like a lot of time was spent worldbuilding but then it sort of half-asses doing anything really creative or interesting with the pretense. Whereas something like WALL-E feels rich and vibrant with barely a line of dialogue to drive it, there’s a missed mark in an inconsistency to the logic of the world of ONWARD that feels flat and unremarkable despite its gorgeous design.

Not bad, just suffers from the absurdly high expectations that Pixar fare tends to generate.

TOY STORY 4 (2019)

The only place really left to go after the crescendo of TS3 was out into the wild, into the larger world, and in doing so opening up some bizarre questions about the nature of living toys and their identities.

Sure, it’s a fun and beautifully realized film but Pixar has once again instilled that wonder with mature questions that would sail over children’s heads and send their parents into existential crises.

Surprising that they managed to make such a compelling case in the fourth film, and with it create some of my now favourite characters from the whole franchise. Pixar really are the best of the best.

Not as emotionally heavy as #3, nonetheless highly recommended.