Some spoilers for Pixar movies here, needless to say.

Finding the right note to end a movie is hard, and doing so for a family film is harder. When an unambiguously happy ending is mandatory, the understandable temptation is to trend toward the hokey and the maudlin. Even Disney in its animated-feature heyday had trouble with this: I'll grant you The Lion King, with its wonderful "Circle of Life" callback, but who really remembers the final minutes of the era's other classics? As best I can recall, they mostly involved characters getting married and everyone else being really happy for them.

Since Pixar is better than everyone at everything, it figures that they're better at ending their films, too. No movie illustrates this better than Toy Story 3, whose astonishing coda turned me into a puddle on the theater floor. It's a happy ending, but one executed with incomparable elegance, speaking eloquently to kids about the inevitable need to let go of the things and the people you love. (I disagree with esteemed colleague Elisabeth Rappe that this is part of Pixar's quest to make growing up feel rotten – I think Toy Story 3 is beautifully gentle and comforting, suggesting that these life transitions come with the promise of finding joy elsewhere, in the new and unfamiliar.) It's the best scene in the best movie of the year.