12 Essential Stop-Motion Animated Movies

stop-motion animated movies

(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: here are the most essential stop-motion animated movies.)

Stop-motion animation is largely seen as a quaint relic. An animation style that has roots in the earliest days of cinema — the first reported film to use stop-motion animation was Vitagraph’s lost 1897 film Humpty Dumpty Circus. Stop-motion would remain at the cutting edge of movie-making, central to special effects used in live-action movies like Star Wars, and winning mainstream popularity at the height of the animation renaissance in the ‘90s.

Stop-motion animation is the manipulation of any physical object — ranging from paper cutouts, puppets, Lego bricks, and yes, clay. It’s one of the most tedious formats you can imagine, requiring hours to set up a simple one-minute shot. But despite the domination of CG animation in the past decade, stop-motion is here to stay. Just look to this year’s Berlinale darling, Isle of the Dogs, and the latest Aardman film Early Man.

Here are the most essential stop-motion animated movies.

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Aardman Movies Ranked

One of the great underrated purveyors of modern family entertainment, Aardman Animations has been comfortably chugging out feature films and shorts over the last 30 years to acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Over the last few years, Aardman’s stop-motion style has been matched in the United States by the Laika studio, with its ambitious storytelling in Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, among others. But this past weekend, Aardman’s newest movie, Early Man, got to take center stage as a form of counter-programming against Black Panther.

With Early Man in theaters, it’s time to look at the whole of Aardman’s feature-length output with this ranking. So, do like Wallace and grab the nearest cheesy snack, and dig in.

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