4. Wall-E – $18.8M

Even for Pixar, this might be a first: an animated film that contains not only a fully realized world as photorealistic as it is full of wonder, but also the Gargantuan themes and visuals of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the stripped-down sad-clown pathos found in classic Buster Keaton comedies, and one of the most moving and simply unique love stories in a long time. Director Andrew Stanton kicked up the visual acuity of an already-stellar Pixar Animation Studios in 2003 with a reflective, refractive, color-shimmery realization of the oceanic world of FINDING NEMO, which genuinely felt as though it spanned the entire earth. With WALL-E, Stanton replaces an apprehensively fishy estranged journeyer with a love-struck and curious robotic one, allowing the quest for eternal love to expand from a desolate, dust-covered, palpably polluted future Earth and into an even more mysterious abyss: the far reaches of outer space. With virtually no dialogue, WALL-E's neatly contained vaudevillian first act eerily and tragically introduces the robot of the title as the last living thing on Earth (aside from a little cockroach friend) amidst dilapidated skyscrapers and equally tall compacted trash heaps. WALL-E has developed a tender and inquisitive personality doing what he was built to do day in and day out for the past 700 years--allocate and dispose of human waste--simply because no one turned him off when the human race left the hostile polluted planet. When the directive-oriented Eve robot comes crashing into his life from above, WALL-E immediately becomes infatuated with her, and is willing to follow her to back into dangerous outer space, where two robots gliding through the ether, dancing via fire-extinguisher propulsion, are among the many memorable and grandly romantic moments of an expansively beautiful, deceptively simple story.

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