Since 1912, stop motion animation has been used by filmmakers around the world to bring their stories to life. In 1917, Argentine filmmakers used stop motion animation to develop the first feature animated film in history, “El Apostol.” Since that time, dozens of stories have utilized stop motion to deliver cinematic journeys. We’ve seen stop motion used to enhance special effects in movies, including “Star Wars,” “King Kong,” and even “Elf.”
Last year we saw “Anomalisa,” an R-rated stop motion film, generate considerable Best Picture buzz. Since 2010, six stop motion films have been nominated for Best Animated Feature. This has only built the hype around Laika‘s new stop motion project, “Kubo and the Two Strings.” With Kubo’s release this week, we want to know, what is your favorite stop-motion film? I’ve included a few of my own to get us started. Side note: I banned myself from using “Fantastic Mr. Fox” because I’ve already included it more than once in the last month.
One of the coolest throwbacks to B-movies, “ParaNorman” is my favorite Laika film to date. The film is anchored by impressive visuals and a “Goonies” style story that make it a must see. The film follows Norman and his friends as they begin to unravel the mystery of a town that is haunted by ghouls and ghosts. It also features an excellent voice cast, including Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, and John Goodman. The animation itself is so nuanced and spooky that “ParaNorman” feels like a completely lived in world. It’s a fun romp, and is one of my go to films on Halloween.
2. “Mary and Max”
One of the coolest uses of the stop motion has been a recent trend of telling adult films through the animation style. “Anomalisa” is the most acclaimed, but “Mary and Max” paved the road for its existence. “Mary and Max” follows the story of a young girl that has become an outcast in her family. One day, she decides to write a stranger in New York so that she may have a pen pal, and shortly after, Max receives Mary’s letters. From there on, the film begins to tackle some extremely important topics and emotional arcs for its characters. The film follows the outcasts through their lives, while also touching on the effects of mental illness and isolation. It’s a beautiful film, one full of emotion and passion that make it a must see.
3. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”
I couldn’t write a list about stop-motion and not include a film from Aardman Animations. The makers of “Chicken Run” and “Shaun the Sheep” won their Best Animated feature Oscar for their big screen debut of “Wallace & Gromit.” The story of a man and his dog remains one of the most enjoyable adventures in stop motion’s history. The films are extremely enjoyable and feature all around fun storytelling. Wallace and Gromit remain two of the funniest characters in animation, and “The Curse of the Were Rabbit” is the film on my list that should play for audiences of all ages.