3. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Woody, Bullseye, and Jessie in Toy Story 2

Sequel to: Toy Story (1995)

Back in the 1990s, Pixar was a young studio that had yet to establish total dominance over the animated movie scene. However, after Toy Story put them on the map, a string of hugely successful films led to the cultivation of their modern image. One of the films that best represents Pixar’s rise is Toy Story 2, the 1999 follow-up to Toy Story.

Toy Story 2 revisits the beloved characters of the first film, but it also delves into Woody’s own history while introducing new characters into the fold. What’s more, it examines the darker side of being a toy, including a discussion of what such beings might fear, and what they might do to avoid being forgotten. Toy Story 2 elevated the Toy Story franchise beyond a whimsical what if? scenario and posed a genuine existential question, and it did so without ever overstepping the confines of its family-friendly nature.

The original Toy Story set the scene, but Toy Story 2 felt like the real bones of the franchise’s premise. It pushed the envelope in the best way, redefining what constitutes quality family entertainment and providing a thought-provoking story that was still suitable for younger audiences. The brilliance of Toy Story 2 has since helped re-shape family cinema, and it would never have done so had Pixar not pushed to have it outshine its predecessor.