There was a specific moment when I knew that Up was going to be something special. And it so happens that the moment I'm talking about is representative of what makes an astonishing 3/4-or-so of Pixar movies special -- and helpful in explaining why so much of its current competition is also-rans. (Here's an alternative -- or perhaps complementary -- explanation I'm also fond of.) If you haven't seen Up, I recommend returning to this post after you have. Reasonable people might consider it spoler-y, though I don't give away any plot details beyond the film's first twenty minutes.

The moment I'm talking about -- and jeepers, I wish I could find a screenshot, but there's just no way to do it without piracy -- comes toward the end of the lovely, rightfully-praised-everywhere montage that opens the film. The montage lyrically flutters through the marriage of Carl and Ellie Fredericksen, from their wedding as eager, ambitious young 'uns, through loving years of dreams deferred as one then another then another practical concern gets in their way, and to Ellie's eventual death of natural causes, with Carl by her side. (The movie's gentle but considered approach to aging and death blew me away -- what other ostensibly children's movie has ever genuinely struggled with this subject?)