Hm, this is tough. I’ll probably forget half of them.
No particular order on this list.
Toy Story 3: Incinerator
This one is so powerful to me. The visuals and atmosphere and voice work and acting all come together to create a masterpiece. And I was truly, genuinely concerned for the toys’ safety, because I wouldn’t have put it past Pixar to end the film by killing them all off – that is, ultimately, the end for all toys. I was actually physically exhausted when I’d gotten through that. Incredible scene.
Toy Story 3: So long
I’d hyped the movie so much beforehand that it kinda terrified me. Ever since I’d seen Toy Story 2 at the theater, I’d been convinced that the story wasn’t over. I’d been convinced that there would be a part three at some point. In other words, my expectation were sky-high, and I was pretty sure there was no way to satisfy a decade’s worth of anticipation. Right? Wrong. This scene right here was such a perfect ending to such a perfect trilogy that it simply took my breath away. The sheer melancholy of letting go, the way Andy reveals just how much he cares about each and every one of them after they’ve agonized about it for the entire movie, and a big, big chunk of the credit for the scene’s effectiveness goes to the music. Such a perfect scene. Still has me in awe every time I see it.
A Bug’s Life: Rain
This one is amazing. All throughout the movie, the insects are talking about doing things “before the rain hits” (forgot the actual wording; haven’t seen it in a while), and as a human viewer, you’re like “oh, okay, they just have to hurry,” but then when the rain actually hits, for the insects, it’s the equivalent of a freaking air raid. And that just shows how incredible the people at Pixar are at getting into the heads of characters that aren’t human, and how ingenious with reinterpreting things from their perspectives.
Monsters University: Sulley arrives at the camp
I still don’t understand why I felt this one so strongly the first time around. Because I’d seen Monsters Inc, I knew Mike was okay by that point, I knew the kids weren’t actually toxic so nothing could have happened to him in the first place… and yet, I was at the edge of my seat with worry. Maybe it was Sulley’s hushed voice in the deserted room. Maybe it was the bleak lighting. Maybe it was just that the events leading up to that scene influenced my perception of it. Whatever it was, it was freaking awesome.
Inside Out: Riley’s birth
At the first few piano notes over the Disney logo, I started grinning like an idiot. The atmosphere in this entire scene is just lovely, and it perfectly conveys such a powerful sense of wonder and awe and beauty and bliss. Plus, I’ve said this somewhere before, but the interplay of visuals and music when Joy pushes the memory away gives me the shivers every time I think about it (and I suspect that won’t have changed when I get to rewatch the movie). So yeah, this one makes me hope that Pixar will have more scenes picturing facets of one particular feeling in the future.
Monsters University: You said you believed in me
I have a huge thing for (fictional!) arguments between friends in which you can understand both sides and aren’t inspired to vilify anyone. My heart just aches for both of them here because Sulley meant so well but did such a terrible thing, and Mike allowed himself to rely on Sulley’s support so much and then it backfired on him. Plus, Mike’s friendless background makes this a thousand times worse – he’s being so vicious here because he’s lost yet another friend, and he’s basically angry with himself for still not having learned the lesson that friendships are never forever. (I don’t believe that, of course. And neither does he, at least in MI. But at this point, he still does.) And again, the effect is amplified by the music and lighting, and the clever trick that Mike and Sulley are separated by light and darkness. Powerful moment.
Toy Story: Falling with style
C’mon, how can you not? The chase scene still gets me excited every time I see it. It’s awesome, ties up so many loose ends, results in such a heartwarming moment… what’s not to love? I can’t even find one singular moment to cite in particular; I just mean the entire thing from when they rush out onto the street to when they wink at each other. Great stuff for sure.
…can’t think of anything more. Maybe I’ll add to this in the future.