Top 20 Pixar Shorts of All Time

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Top 20 Pixar Shorts of All Time

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Adriana Travisano
From living lamps to tin toys, Pixar has given us one classic short after another. For this list, we'll be looking at the sweetest, funniest, and most heartwarming short Pixar films. Our countdown includes "Tin Toy," "Bao," "Presto," and more!
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Top 20 Pixar Shorts


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Pixar Shorts.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the sweetest, funniest, and most heartwarming short Pixar films. We won’t be including any SparkShorts in this one, so you won’t see titles like “Kitbull”.

Let us know which short you saw in theaters in the comments below!

#20: “Boundin'” (2003)


“Boundin’” is definitely the film that made Pixar shorts what we’ve come to know them as today. Previously, plots were mainly comical with no real deeper meaning in them. “Boundin’” changed that. It has a classic Pixar message at its core–one that tells us to embrace both the ups and the downs of life–all told through a sheep whose prized wool has been sheared. The short premiered before “The Incredibles” in theaters, which is pretty fitting when you consider how much of an impact both films had on the studio’s future endeavors.

#19: “Tin Toy” (1988)


If you remember one thing about “Tin Toy”, it’s probably the downright terrifying animation of the baby. Yes, it was the first Pixar short to win an Oscar, and the animation of Tinny (the tin one-man band toy) is great–it’s stellar, even, for 1988… but, the baby. Pixar was under financial constraints at the time and CGI was nowhere near where it is today, so we get it. We get it, but we can’t forgive it. Still, “Tin Toy” was Pixar’s third ever short and, without it, we probably would have never gotten “Toy Story”. We’re just glad Pixar waited the seven years!

#18: “Jack-Jack Attack” (2005)


Here’s a spin-off of a feature we all loved. “Jack-Jack Attack” was originally supposed to be a scene in the “The Incredibles”, but it was cut and later made into a short. You can find this one on the DVD release, but no worries if you haven’t seen it. We’ll give you the breakdown. Jack-Jack is indisputably the Parr with the most insane superpowers. Poor teenaged Kari is tasked with babysitting him which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fire and the lazer eyes–you know how it goes. The short sees her babysitting… adventures, as well as an interrogation with a government agent about said adventures. “Jack-Jack Attack” has all the humor and charm of the original, and is well worth the watch!

#17: “Knick Knack” (1989)


Before “Toy Story”, there was “Knick Knack”. After “Tin Toy” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, John Lasseter was back for the creation of yet another computer-animated short. CGI was still relatively new at the time, but Lasseter and Pixar were making moves with it. Case in point, “Knick Knack”. It’s a fun little story about a snowman, Knick (who is also apparently Frosty the Snowman’s cousin), and his attempts to escape his snow globe and join the other knickknacks on the shelf. It was inspired by animation like “Tom and Jerry” and “Looney Tunes”, which was right on brand for the humor of the time.

#16: “One Man Band” (2005)


Pixar is pretty known for their musical scores, but “One Man Band” takes things to a whole other level. Two street performers, each playing an entire band’s worth of instruments, battle for a young girl’s coin. This duel between two characters is a pretty classic Pixar formula that we’ll see recreated in future shorts, but “One Man Band” seems to be where it started. It also has a very–and we mean very–short post-credit scene, which honestly makes the whole thing that much funnier. If you saw “Cars” in theaters (and you get to the movies early enough), you’ll probably remember “One Man Band” showing just before.

#15: “Sanjay’s Super Team” (2015)


If you’re thinking that you can’t remember “Sanjay’s Super Team”, that’s probably because it premiered alongside the theatrical release of “The Good Dinosaur” which, admittedly, didn’t do as well at the box office as some other Pixar classics. The short is based on creator Sanjay Patel’s childhood, where he often felt caught in between his family’s Hindu traditions and the modern world. “Sanjay’s Super Team” features an action-packed superhero fight starring Gods, a sweet relationship between father and son, and a conclusion that sees a bridge forming between Sanjay’s two worlds. The representation is not only vital but it also feels authentic given that it’s based on Patel’s own experiences.

#14: "BURN-E" (2008)


“WALL-E” is a movie we’ve come to cherish here in the Pixar fandom. Not only are its musical score and animation stunning, “WALL-E” also manages to tell the love story between two robots so beautifully and with little to no dialogue. If we’re crying over a couple of robots by the end of the film, it’s safe to say the crew has done their job. “BURN-E”, a parallel spin-off of the original, has all of that and more packaged in a neat little seven-minute narrative. It’s somehow even more charming than the original, starring BURN-E, possibly the most endearing robot in the world.

#13: “Partly Cloudy” (2009)


“Partly Cloudy” is definitely one of the cuter Pixar shorts. Its premise follows happy clouds in the sky creating new life: babies, puppies, kittens, baby chicks, you name it. Storks then carry off these new lives to… well, presumably, their new lives. One cloud, however, Gus, has the job of creating animals that are cute, yes, but also not so easy for one stork to handle. “Partly Cloudy” preceded the theatrical release of “Up”, which is also probably why it’s one of Pixar’s more known shorts. The creator has said that it was inspired by “Dumbo” and the stork that delivers the elephant, which is pretty adorable.

#12: “Lou” (2017)


Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear the entire lost-and-found box. “Lou”, debuting before Pixar’s “Cars 3”, sees the lost-and-found box come to life and help a schoolyard tormentor right his wrongs. There’s a classic Pixar lesson in there without beating its audience over the head with it. It’s overall just a super sweet story with tons of personality and stunning animation. “Lou” is everything we want and have come to expect from Pixar shorts; from the musical score, to the little sprinklings of humor, to the heartwarming ending.

#11: “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.

#10: “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.

#9: “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.

#8: “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.

#7: “For the Birds” (2000)


This short is over 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.

#6: “Lava” (2014)


Show of hands: who here has cried to a seven-minute song about two volcanoes? If you’re hand isn’t up, you either haven’t seen “Lava” or you’re a liar! The entire short is performed in song-form, where a lonely volcano sings to the ocean every day about his hope to find love. Unbeknown to him is an undersea volcano that has heard his love ballad every day and has grown to fall in love with him. It was created by James Ford Murphy who was inspired by a number of things for the short, including his wife and their honeymoon to Hawaii, as well as Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's (kuh-MA-KA-vivo-OHlay) rendition of “Over the Rainbow”.

#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: “Luxo Jr.” (1986)


Before Pixar was even Pixar, the animation studio created short films like “The Adventures of André & Wally B.”. What really changed things 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 other shorts like “Knick Knack,” came after, this one will always be one of the most memorable and most iconic.

#3: “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.

#2: 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.

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

“Red’s Dream” (1987)
The Animation Is Great but Why Are We Crying?!

“The Adventures of André & Wally B.” (1984)
Oh, the Nostalgia!

“Lamp Life” (2020)
We Always Wondered What Happened to Bo Peep!

#1: “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.
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