Childhood Saturday mornings were spent worshipping at the altar of The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Show. Every day after school my brother and I would watch Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo ... and GI Joe, and Transformers, and Speed Racer, and Star Blazers, and Voltron, and Thundercats, and dear lord, even He-Man.
And then Pixar came along to show us what animation can really do. That the "cartoon" format can be used to tell amazing, honest, real stories.
Monsters, Inc. is probably my favorite. In part, I think, because it has a similar vibe to the best of the classic Warner Bros. and MGM/Tex Avery cartoons.
And then there's Ratatouille, which can't really be ranked, because it's just a whole 'nother beast. imho.
It happens at the 2:30 mark. In 30 seconds of animation, the film's creators manage to convey the very essence of a sublime meal.
The other thing I love about Pixar is that they choose voice talent based on who can best serve the character. So instead of hearing Will Smith play a fish, or Bruce Willis play a raccoon, or Jack Black play a panda ... you just hear the character.
Brad Bird, who directed Ratatouille, cast Patton Oswalt to play Remy the Rat because he felt he could convey real passion about food and cooking. Never heard of him? Doesn't matter. He was the right guy for the job, and that's what mattered.
How did Brad Bird know? Two words - the Black Angus Steak bit
And then? Then there's the failure pile. In a sadness bowl.
If you've actually read this far, and I haven't completely driven you off the deck, check out this Fresh Air interview from 2007 with Brad Bird and Patton Oswalt.