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Top 10 Best Pixar Shorts

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
You don’t always need a long time to tell a great story. For this list, we’re looking at our favorite short animated films made by Pixar. Our list includes “Bao,” “Day & Night,” “Presto,” “Piper,” “La Luna,” and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Pixar Shorts.

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Top 10 Pixar Shorts

You don’t always need a long time to tell a great story. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Pixar Shorts.

For this list, we’re looking at our favorite short animated films made by Pixar.

#10: “The Blue Umbrella” (2013)

This film played alongside 2013’s “Monsters University” and is a prime example of Pixar’s technical skills at their best. The studio has become known for breathing life into otherwise inanimate objects, and they do a lovely job of it in “The Blue Umbrella.” Any piece that can make you feel visceral emotions for an umbrella is an impressive one in our books, and this film does it with a loveliness that induces wonder in both the young and old. It’s a simple but effective love story, and its charms just don’t get old.

#9: “Bao” (2018)

While “Bao” is visually stunning and brimming with the storytelling magic Pixar is known for, it was uncharted territory for the studio, as it marked the first time a woman directed a Pixar short. Director Domee Shi carefully crafted a film that’s equal parts realism and fantasy, and inspired by her own experience of being born to Chinese immigrants. In “Bao,” a woman experiencing empty nest syndrome is surprised to find a steamed dumpling has come to life, and what ensues is a thoughtful depiction of the reluctance that comes with seeing a child - human or food - grow up. Met with universal acclaim, “Bao” marks a shift in the recipe for greatness Pixar has had up until this point, embracing diverse stories and voices.

#8: “La Luna” (2011)

Showing before “Brave,” “La Luna” tells the story of a young boy and his elders, squeezing many metaphors into just a few short minutes. It’s about family, individuality, creativity and the importance of marching to your own drumbeat. The story was inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and anyone who has read “The Little Prince” will feel the similarities. It was nominated as Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards, and though it didn’t take home the big prize, it still won over many viewers.

#7: “Lifted” (2006)

Beam us up! We all know the alien abduction story, but usually we hear it from the side of the humans. In “Lifted,” which was shown in front of 2007’s “Ratatouille,” the story is flipped and the protagonist is the alien who is learning how to abduct humans for the first time. This is one of the funniest of Pixar’s shorts, and while it may not have the emotional depth of some of the others on this list, it’s memorable for its humor and of course excellent animation.

#6: “For the Birds” (2000)

This short is nearly 20 years old, but anyone who has seen it once probably remembers it. “For the Birds” was seen by many when it was paired with Pixar’s monster hit, “Monsters, Inc.,” and the simple story is one of the earlier examples of a truly excellent work from the studio. This is one example of Pixar letting their technical skills shine with a story that is universal and needs no language to be told. It won Best Animated Short Film at the 74th Academy Awards in 2002 and picked up a number of other awards along the way.

#5: “Presto” (2008)

“Presto” stands out on our list for having a distinctly different vibe than many of the other entries, and for involving humans where the majority focus on non-sentient beings. It is more akin to cartoon classics, filled with humor and physical gags. Telling the story of a magician and his mischievous rabbit, the film was nominated for an Oscar, but didn’t pull the prize out of its hat. In terms of humor, though, it has to be one of the funniest shorts Pixar has ever created.

#4: “Piper” (2016)

When movie audiences were waiting for “Finding Dory” to start, they were treated with this visual masterpiece from Pixar. On display were computer animation skills like no one had seen before, with the animators somehow creating nearly photorealistic renditions of their subjects. The animators reportedly studied real life birds in the San Francisco Bay Area and their research obviously paid off. The story of the sandpipers is secondary here because the visuals are just so engaging. It won the Academy Award and it would have been blasphemous had anything else taken home the honor.

#3: “Geri's Game” (1997)

If you grew up in the ‘90s, this might very well be the first animated short you ever remember seeing. It blew away audiences with its at-the-time novel animation style and of course its surprise twist part way through. The story is about an elderly man playing chess in a park, who, despite his lack of partner, becomes more and more passionate and animated as the game goes on. “Geri’s Game” won pretty much every award it was nominated for, including the coveted Academy Award.

#2: “Day & Night” (2010)

If there’s one entry on our list that really stands out as being markedly different from the rest, it has to be this one. “Day & Night,” released in 2010 and paired with “Toy Story 3,” strips away much of Pixar’s technical prowess in favor of telling a simple if evocative story. The main characters are, you guessed it, Day and Night. While the plot may seem childish, in the end older viewers realize that the creators were doing much more than just telling a simple tale with this short. In today’s political climate, the message here feels like a salient one more than ever before.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Tin Toy” (1988)

“Lou” (2017)

“Partly Cloudy” (2009)

#1: “Luxo Jr.” (1986)

Before Pixar was even Pixar, John Lasseter created short films like “The Adventures of André & Wally B.” with the animation studio. What really changed things for both the creator and the company, however, was “Luxo Jr.,” which was released in 1986 and gave us what would come to be known as Pixar’s mascot, the little lamp that stole everyone’s hearts. At the time, the film was technologically revolutionary, and while Lasseter went on to work on other shorts like “Knick Knack,” this one will always be his most memorable and most iconic.

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