Why are stop motion animated films so underrated and underappreciated? I personally love them but I rarely find anyone in my life who watch and actually find stop motion animation beautiful. It takes such great effort and patience to complete even a 1-minute stop motion video, let alone an entire full length movie — trust me, I know how that feels. I feel like there are so many great stop motion animation out there that everyone must try watching at least once so we can all appreciate the beauty that comes from such perseverance.
For this post, I have compiled six of my favorite and recommended stop motion animated films. I have watched a lot of animated films over the course of my existence but picking my favorite stop motion animation films was not a difficult process. I just wish we have more of them today.
Neil Gaiman's Coraline (2009)Directed & written by Henry Selick
Based on a novel written by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is easily one of the best stop motion animated films I have ever watched in my entire life. Yes, that is a claim right there and a truly honest one. I forgot when did I first discovered Coraline but I can tell you how I keep coming back to this movie every single time.
Categorized as a dark and fantasy horror film and set in Ashland, Oregon, the movie's protagonist named Coraline is an adventurous girl who finds a what seemingly ideal parallel world by going through a secret door in her new house, unaware about the sinister secret within the alternate dimension. Don't you worry though, this film is more of a spooky, Tim Burton-esque kind of horror and not the one that scars you for life — at least for me. It is also the stop motion animated film that I will never forget to recommend to anyone.
Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)Directed by Henry Selick, Written by Caroline Thompson, based on stories and characters by Tim Burton
THIS IS A CLASSIC. If you have never watched Nightmare Before Christmas and have no idea who is Jack Skellington, I do not understand what you are doing with your life and please stop living under that cramped rock hiding you from the beauty of Halloween Town.
Well, that was dramatic.
But no, seriously — please watch this once if you have never done it, ever. Also, isn't it cool that you are watching this in October aka the month of Halloween? Yes, go and do it. I myself try to watch this film on October of every year. Yes, you just read that right for that's how dedicated I am.
Funny enough, if you have watched Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas, you can totally see the familiarity of how they are directed — Henry Selick, everyone.
I feel like everyone knows about this movie or at least what it is about so I am not writing down any summary here.
Paranorman (2012)Directed by Sam Fell & Chris Butler. Written by Stephen Stone & Arianne Sutner
Brought to you by Laika, the same company who brought Coraline to live, Paranorman is set in Blithe Hollow, a fictional small town in Massachusetts. It tells the story of 11-year old Norman Babcock who has the ability to see and speak with the dead. As such, he is an outcast isolated from his family and peers and is only befriends by Neil Downe, an overweight boy who happens to be a victim to bullying. Sounds cliche?
Hm, that is until Norman encounters supernatural visions and is made into keeping a promise that he will do the ritual to protect his town. What ritual, you ask? A supernatural one (duh!) but it sure does involve zombies, a witch hunt and a vengeful spirit.
It may not be as phenomenal as Coraline but it sure is a fun one to watch.
Mary and Max (2009)Directed and written by Adam Elliot
The story began in 1976 when 8-year old Mary Daisy Dinkle, a lonely child who lived with her distant father and alcoholic-slash-kleptomaniac mother in Australia, decided to pick a random name from the New York telephone book and wrote a letter, hoping to have a pen pal. The name she had picked was that of Max Jerry Horowitz, a 44-year old obese man who suffers from various psychological issues and has trouble bonding with people. What first started out as a pen pal turned into a journey of long distance friendship that is more than just writing letters to each other.
I will first say that this film has a deep and mature plot. It is not as simple or as cheerful. In fact, it is dark, sad and intense. It also holds a special meaning in my heart as it shows how difficult it is to actually maintain communication and relationships, to actually understand one another especially when you are quite a mentally unstable person. Mary and Max shows us what it feels like to be depressed, to be anxious, to feel suicidal. If you are into this kind of intense and deep animated films, I'd say give Mary and Max a try but maybe stray from it if you only see animated films as dancing unicorns and rainbow bridges.
The Boxtrolls (2014)Directed by Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi. Written by Irena Brignull & Adam Pava. Based on a novel "Here Be Monsters!" by Alan Snow.
Yet another stop motion animation produced by Laika studio, The Boxtrolls is set in a fictional town of Cheesebridge during the Victorian era and tells the story of a human boy named Eggs who is raised by and lives with trash collecting trolls called — yes, you guessed it — Boxtrolls. In trying to protect his family, Eggs is on a mission to save them from Archibald Snatcher, a pest exterminator who made a deal with the city leader Lord Portley-Rind to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for a seat in the council.
Unlike my previous recommendation, The Boxtrolls is a fun, fantasy-comedy ride with a light plot. It also stars the voice of Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs and Elle Fanning as his human sidekick.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)Directed by Wes (freaking) Anderson. Written by Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach.
If you love Wes Anderson, I expect you know about this animated film. If you love Wes Anderson and you have no idea that this great film was directed by him then shame on you.
Just kidding, folks.
I am sure you know that there was quite a hype surrounding this film and honestly, the hype was real. This is, like any other Wes Anderson's films, a great watch. Based on a novel of the same name written by Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a comedy film about Mr. Fox who steals food from three wealthy farmers. As the three farmers aim to exterminate Mr. Fox, he and his family have to outsmart these farmers but not without the help of other animals such as a Clive Badger the beaver who is also Mr. Fox's lawyer, Kylie the opposum who is an accomplice and some others.
The plot may not seem much but it really is a film to watch. Besides, it's Wes-freaking-Anderson so if you can love The Grand Budapest Hotel, you might as well try this one.
But if, after all these, you are still asking me who on earth is Wes Anderson then.... my friend, you really need to start removing that rock you are living under.
Last but not least, honorary mention goes to Tim Burton's Corpse Bride which is a musical, dark fantasy film that everyone, too, must watch. I think I just have too much obsession with anything Tim Burton-esque.
Well then that's all for my favorite and recommended stop motion animated films. I am really hoping that there will be more stop motion animation in the future though since they are actually beautiful and just, ugh, borderline forgotten.
Do share any of your favorite stop-motion films with me if you have any!