Once upon a time there was a little animation studio with big digital dreams. It was called Pixar and it was so innovative it changed the movie industry. It was so crazy good that a new category was invented at the bloated Oscars suck-fest to shovel them awards. After a nervous start, Pixar had the big bad studio wolves shitting their pants. But wolves love to eat little Pixars, and one of those big bad studios named Disney bought the plucky rebel and chopped off its balls. Nobody lived happily ever after. Except the accountants. That’s the big picture.
In detail, Pixar began as a rebel alliance dedicated to making animated films in ground-breaking ways. Crackpot genius Steve Jobs and innovative engineer Ed Catmull crossed their fingers and pulled off a miracle. Everybody in the animation industry thought they were arrogant wannabes. But no, they held the future in their rebellious hands. But upstart Pixar needed money and distribution so they signed a three picture distribution deal with a devil called ‘Walt Disney Feature Animation.’ Old school Disney had so little faith in the strange group of nerdy outsiders that they insisted that Toy Story 2 — one of the greatest film sequels ever made — be released as kiddie material on straight-to-video.
Common sense eventually prevailed, and Pixar shat out a string of wondrous films that is still unrivaled in cinematic history. There was something special about seeing a Pixar movie back in the glorious early days of digital animation. There was nothing else like it on the screen. William Goldman’s old adage that nobody knows anything in Hollywood didn’t seem to apply to the weirdos on the Pixar campus. They knew nothing and everything, maybe because they weren’t actually in Hollywood. Even their worst movie, Cars, didn’t stop them from trying some daring shit. Pixar’s magic could hide the illogical conceit of the daffiest plot behind their stunning animation and nobody seemed to care.
Pixar followed Cars with a string of four beloved films: Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. Each was a marvel of form, emotion, and storytelling. Each had moments that were among the best frames ever immortalized on film.
Then Pixar crapped the bed. What happened? Disney bought Pixar outright in 2006, and Pixar’s magic wand fizzled. Disney’s controlling…