Pixar directors, ranked by average IMDb score

Since their first film, toy story, in 1995, Pixar Animation Studios delighted and entertained people of all ages around the world. Pixar has produced 24 feature films, most of which are considered good or excellent. Their films have collectively grossed over $14 billion worldwide and won 23 Oscars (via Forbes). With all of their critical and commercial success, it’s worth taking a look at the people most responsible for Pixar’s success – the directors.

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This year, Domee Shi (for turn red) and Angus McLane (for Light year) will join the ranks of some of Pixar’s great directors. But will their films manage to score better than some of the other memorable images? There’s definitely a possibility given that their films manage to be a hit with audiences and earn a higher rating on IMDb.

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Tied: Peter Sohn/Brian Fee (6.7)


Split image showing directors peter Sohn and Brian Fee

With a rating of 6.7, Peter Sohn and Brian Fee each have only one Pixar film to their name: Sohn a 2015 The good dinosaur while Fee has 2017 Cars 3. Unfortunately for these two, their films seem to have been at a disadvantage from the start.

The good dinosaur had a notoriously troubled production (its original director Bob Peterson was even dropped from the project), while the Cars The franchise, while commercially successful, is generally considered one of Pixar’s weakest projects. Although Fee is rumored to be working on a new original movie for Pixar, there has yet to be an official announcement for either director’s next project. Hopefully these two can make more movies at Pixar and boost their IMDb scores in the process.


Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman (7.1)


Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman on stage with their Oscars

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman are two other Pixar directors who only have one movie, the 2012 one. Brave. Chapman, otherwise best known for making DreamWorks The Prince of Egyptwas replaced during production on Brave due to creative differences with Pixar head John Lasseter and replaced by story veteran Mark Andrews.

Both Chapman and Andrews received directing credits (a first for Pixar) and they won the Oscar for “Best Animated Feature” together. Despite its difficult production, Brave was generally appreciated and was a box office success. Since then, however, Chapman and Andrews have left Pixar, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to change their Pixar IMDb score.


Dan Scanlon (7.3)


dan scanlon

The first director on this list with more than one credit is Dan Scanlon. Scanlon first worked at Pixar as a story artist, and also directed the Cars short Mater and the Ghostlightbefore writing and directing 2013’s monster university (IMDb 7.2) and 2020 Forward (7.4). While monster university was financially successful (earning over $700 million – according to Variety), Forward was released in March 2020, just as COVID-19 was beginning to emerge, and therefore only grossed $140 million worldwide (according to box office mojo).

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Fortunately for Scanlon, Forward became popular on Disney+ and gave him an Oscar nomination that year. Pixar has yet to announce any new projects with Scanlon, but so far its 7.3 average for two movies is pretty solid.


Enrico Casarosa (7.5)


luca pixar enrico casarosa giulia

Enrico Casarosa, like many others before him, rose through the ranks at Pixar as a story artist, before directing the short film The Moon. He eventually led Lucasa fantastic coming-of-age story of two young sea monsters on the Italian coast.

Although it skipped theaters in favor of a Disney+ release (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), critics and audiences alike were thrilled with the gorgeous animation and its many memorable characters. Casarosa was nominated for the Oscar for “Best Animated Feature”, where it will compete with two other Disney releases, Raya and the last dragon and Encanto. With all the buzz Lucasit’s probably only a matter of time before Casarosa gets another movie to direct at Pixar.


Josh Cooley (7.7)


Josh Cooley

Josh Cooley’s first and only film for Pixar, 2019 toy story 4, has an impressive 7.7 IMDb rating. Before toy story 4Cooley has worked on a number of other Pixar shorts and features (including Upside downwhich he co-wrote).

After winning an Oscar for toy story 4Cooley also left Pixar to pursue other projects, such as animation Transformers film for Paramount (based on Deadline). Cooley may return to Pixar in the future.

Brad Bird (7.87)


Brad Bird on Tomorrowland and Star Wars

After the critical success of 1999 The Iron GiantBrad Bird joined Pixar and directed the classic superhero deconstruction in 2004 The Incredibles (IMDb 8.0). He then took over the management duties from Jan Pinkava in 2007 Ratatouillemaking it a critical and box office success (and another 8.0).

After pausing the animation to do Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and tomorrowlandBird returned to Pixar and directed Incredibles 2which became the highest-grossing animated film of all time domestically (and earned a 7.6 on IMDb).

Andre Stanton (7.93)


Andrew Stanton smiling for the camera

Andrew Stanton’s career at Pixar has been similar to that of Brad Bird. Like Bird, Stanton started with two original Pixar films, in 2003 The world of Nemo and 2008 WALL-E (8.1 and 8.4, respectively). Then he left Pixar to make an action movie (John Carter), and returned to make a sequel to his first Pixar film, 2016 Finding Dory (7.3), which was a huge financial success.

Besides the three films Stanton has directed for Pixar, he is also Pixar’s most prolific writer, having written or co-written six other films (toy story 14, The life of an insectand Monsters Inc.). He also has extensive live television experience, having directed episodes of stranger things, You better call Saul, Legion, Tales from the Loopand For all mankind.

Pete Docter (8.125)


Pete Docter and Pixar

Pete Docter was one of the first directors to direct a film for Pixar. He is also the most consistent director, with his IMDb scores varying by just 0.1 points. 2001 Monsters Inc. has a score of 8.1, then that of 2009 At the top has an 8.2, then reverts to 8.1 for his two most recent films, 2015 Upside down and 2020s Soul.


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He made history in 2021 when he became the first person to win three Academy Awards for “Best Animated Feature” (via Hollywood journalist). He’s currently busy as CCO of Pixar, but it’s only a matter of time before he returns to his directorial duties at Pixar.

Lee Unkrich (8.3)


Unlike most other directors at Pixar (who primarily started out as animators or story artists), director Lee Unkrich started out as an editor. He then became co-director on toy story 2, Monsters Inc.and The world of Nemo before making his solo directorial debut in the 2010s Toy Story 3 (8.2). This film and that of 2017 coconut (8.4) were critical and commercial successes and cemented Unkrich’s place at the pinnacle of Pixar directors.

Incredibly, he remains at the top even if fans include his co-directing credits (his average score across five films is 8.14). According to DeadlineUnkrich retired from acting in 2019 to spend more time with his family, but his legacy and success may go unchallenged for some time.

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