49 BEST STOP-MOTION ANIMATED MOVIES OF ALL TIME
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Tangible and physical, stop-motion animation is the art of manipulating objects and figures frame by frame, creating the illusion of fluid movement. It’s an almost atavistic art form of ours: Instinct tells us if you have a lump of clay in your hands, start making stuff out of it. Shape a chicken and a fox, mold some pirates, heck, make a movie. It’s what filmmakers have been doing for over a century, so we’re taking a look through time with the 47 best stop-motion animated movies ever made.
In this guide, we’ll come in contact with the different materials and styles used in stop motion. Clay has led to the creation of one of animation’s most enduring man-and-canine duos, Wallace and Gromit, created by Nick Park. His films and studio, Aardman, have an outsized presence in that scene, with the likes of Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. Paper cutout stop-motion animation is less frequently used. See it at its trippy best with Fantastic Planet, and in The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the oldest surviving animated film.
Puppet stop-motion animation has been the preferred method for venerable directors like Tim Burton (producer of The Nightmare Before Christmas), Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), and Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox). Anderson collaborated with Nightmare-director Henry Selick to animate the marine fauna in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; afterwards, Selick set up shop at studio Laika, where he gave them their first big hit, Coraline. Laika has been a stop-motion powerhouse since, using a cutting-edge mix of puppets, clay, and computer enhancements to fuel a string of Certified Fresh films, including The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings.
Of course, no stop-motion list feels complete without a drawn-out tribute to legendary animator Ray Harryhausen. He got his start on 1949’s Mighty Joe Young (working with the same team behind the milestone ape effects of King Kong), and over the next three decades, ignited imaginations in fantasy and sword-and-sandals by bringing monsters to life in films like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Other films that combine live-action and and stop-motion include Selick’s James and the Giant Peach and Jan Svankmajer’s Alice. After gathering all of the films across cinema history, we’re sorting them by Tomatometer, with Certified Fresh films first.
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (2015)
#1Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman’s family-friendly crown.
Synopsis: All is well at Mossy Bottom Farm, except for the fact that the animals will do anything to get out.
MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI (2016)
#2Critics Consensus:My Life as a Zucchini‘s silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.
KING KONG (1933)
#3Critics Consensus:King Kong explores the soul of a monster — making audiences scream and cry throughout the film — in large part due to Kong’s breakthrough special effects.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO (2022)
#4Critics Consensus:Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio delivers fully on its title — which is to say it’s a visually stunning adaptation that embraces its source material’s darkness.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016)
#5Critics Consensus:Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation with an absorbing — and bravely melancholy — story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.
CHICKEN RUN (2000)
#6Critics Consensus:Chicken Run has all the charm of Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit, and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular.
A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON (2019)
#7Critics Consensus:A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon retains the charm of its small-screen source material while engagingly expanding the title character’s world.
THE WOLF HOUSE (2018)
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
MARY AND MAX (2009)
FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)
MAD GOD (2021)
THE LITTLE PRINCE (2015)
#14Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and faithful to the spirit of its classic source material, The Little Prince is a family-friendly treat that anchors thrilling visuals with a satisfying story.
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1996)
ISLE OF DOGS (2018)
JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)
MISSING LINK (2019)
TIM BURTON’S CORPSE BRIDE (2005)
WENDELL & WILD (2022)
A TOWN CALLED PANIC (2009)
EARLY MAN (2018)
THE BOXTROLLS (2014)
WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE WRONG TROUSERS (1993)
THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (1925)
A GRAND DAY OUT WITH WALLACE AND GROMIT (1989)
A CLOSE SHAVE (1995)
THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958)
LE ROMAN DE RENARD (1930)
SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN (1970)
BLOOD TEA AND RED STRING (2006)
FANTASTIC PLANET (1973)
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949)
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)
THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (1974)
CONSUMING SPIRITS (2012)
THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969)
THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN (1985)
THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973)
TOYS IN THE ATTIC (2009)
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957)
FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964)
CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)
#49Critics Consensus: A goofy, old-school sword-and-sandal epic, Clash of the Titans mines Greek mythology for its story and fleshes it out with Ray Harryhausen’s charmingly archaic stop-motion animation techniques.
George Brown is a main editor in Bitgraph Network Team.