If you’ve seen Kubo, you know it’s yet another great addition to the category of stop-motion animated films. Here are 10 more.
Stop-motion animation, the process of manipulating physical objects between frames in a film to give the appearance of movement, has been around since the turn of the century. When we think of stop-motion, we tend to associate it with Tim Burton or those old Christmas movies we watched as kids.
But that’s just the beginning of stop-motion animation. It takes a long, long time to create a full-length feature film, but plenty of budding animators elect to tackle this medium to create shorts. There’s a whole world out there full of incredibly quirky and heartwarming stories being told using stop-motion animation, and this is just a tiny peek behind the curtain.
If you want a full list of stop-motion animated features, you can visit the Wikipedia page. My choices below are simply 10 of the best stop-motion animated films, with a couple of personal favorites thrown in for good measure.
We’ve also marked which stop-motion movies are on Netflix, so you can easily access them!
Best Stop-Motion Animated Movies
‘The Little Prince’ (2015)
Available on Netflix.
The Little Prince gained a lot of buzz when it went up on Netflix last year, not least because it was meant to be distributed by Paramount Pictures before they dropped it a week ahead of the planned release date. This movie, which is a blend of 3D animation and stop-motion, is about a girl who rediscovers her childhood thanks to her crazy next door neighbor. The film is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and has been praised by critics and fans alike.
ParaNorman’s tagline tells you everything you need to know about this movie: “It’s all fun and games until someone raises the dead.” The whole town might give Norman a wide berth, but he’s about to be the only person who can save them from a witch’s curse. This film was the first to use a 3D color printer to create the character’s faces and went on to be nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for Best Animated Feature. There’s also a great little surprise at the end that has received both praise and criticism — but you’ll just have to watch to find out what it is!
‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009)
Mr. Fox leads a pretty fantastic life, but he doesn’t exactly see eye to eye with his human neighbors, so he and his family must rely on their animal instincts to outfox them at every turn. Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name and is Wes Anderson’s first foray into feature length animation. It was well-received by critics, and audiences made it the second highest-grossing animated film of 2009, only to be outdone by the heavy hitter that was Up.
Laika Studios hit another one out of the park when they developed Coraline. The studio has become known for their stop-motion animated features, with Kubo being their most recent. The story is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, which explores the story of a girl who finds another world behind a secret door in her new home. The film is surprisingly frightening in places, but the overall story is one that stick with you well after it’s over.
‘Corpse Bride’ (2005)
Available on Netflix.
Speaking of scary, there’s nothing quite like pairing Tim Burton with a story about a man who is dragged into the world of the dead only to become the object of affection for the titular corpse bride. The movie is unequivocally Tim Burton, with his style written all over it. With long-time collaborator Helena Bonham Carter also on board, it’s hard to go wrong and this movie certainly hit it out of the park across the board. It walks a fine line between the macabre and the heartwarming.
‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit’ (2005)
This movie actually has a lot in common with the previous entry on our list. Not only was it released in the same year and also had Helena Bonham Carter on its roster, but both films were up for Best Animated Feature at the 2005 Academy Awards. The only difference? The Curse of the Were-rabbit took home the prize, the first and only stop-motion feature to do so in this category. The plot of the film is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s a fun romp, especially for fans of previous Wallace and Gromit installations.
‘Chicken Run’ (2000)
Available on Netflix.
Chicken Run is kind of a big deal, considering it’s the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film ever to be released. The story is about a group of chickens who want to escape the farm when they learn their owners want to stop selling chicken eggs and start selling pie — chicken pie. This is where Aardman Animations started, following up with The Case of the Were-rabbit and going on to produce many other financially successful features, including Shaun the Sheep Movie.
‘James and the Giant Peach’ (1996)
Full disclosure: I don’t like this movie. It’s not because it’s bad; it’s because it scared the living daylights out of me as a kid. I think about those sharks and the aunts and an involuntary shiver goes down my spine. That said, this movie is pretty cool from a production level. It begins with real life actors in a real life world before animating the main character and his world. This is also a Roald Dahl adaptation about a boy who escapes his cruel aunts by sailing away in, you guessed it, a giant peach. The animation was certainly praised, and the darkly whimsical tale makes for an interesting story to say the least. (But maybe wait until the kids are a little older before you show them this one.)
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993)
Jack Skellington should have everything he wants as the Pumpkin King, but he knows he needs something more. Accidentally falling into another world called Christmastown, Jack thinks he’s found exactly what he’s been looking for. The only thing left to do is kidnap Santa Claus and don the red hat himself! Little explanation is needed for this classic film, and it’s another Tim Burton masterpiece. It is a bit dark for the kids, but it has the added bonus of being perfect for viewing around Halloween and Christmas.
‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ (1964)
I will admit this is a childhood favorite required to be played every Christmas. It’s the oldest film on our list, but don’t for a second think that means it loses any quality. There are several old Christmas specials that fall into the stop-motion animated film category, but there’s just something about the classic Rudolph tale that makes this one stand out. And not for nothing, it’s also been broadcast every year since its inception, meaning it is the longest running Christmas TV special in history.