Top Stop-Motion Films
If you’re an avid Fudge blog reader (and you’d better be), you may have picked up from our Halloween and our ‘gifts for animators’ posts that we love a bit of stop-motion and we’d really like to try our hand making of our own soon. So in order to scratch this itch, we’ve brought together some of our favourite films from the genre!
A huge Aardman Studios hit, Chicken Run gave us the answer to the question: “what do chickens get up to when you’re not looking?” which was the question on everyone’s lips at the time I guess… Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dreamworks co-chairman had reportedly seen Creature Comforts and chased Aardman for a movie ever since. When he finally caught up, this is what they produced. It’s easy to see why this was highest grossing feature length stop-motion film (Aardman’s first!) at the time of release, the animation is smooth and the characters have got real charm and believable chemistry. It was almost enough to get us to give up chicken pies… Almost.
Mary and Max
This is a sometimes dark yet thoroughly endearing tale of two penpals, one from Mount Wavely in Australia and the other from New York City. It’s all about the coming together of two distant worlds, be it geographically, the comedic and the tragic or the old and the young. We adore the way that Mary’s Australia is sepia toned whilst Max’s America is greyscale, but the objects one send to another keep the tone of their origin. That and the punctuation by saturated reds throughout make this a visually intriguing and emotionally rewarding watch.
James and The Giant Peach
Whilst not entirely stop-motion, we would be mad to leave out this next one. Produced by Tim Burton, who of course was going to turn up on this list sooner or later, James and the Giant Peach is one of the classics of feature length stop-motion. In typical Roald Dahl style, it is a bizarre romp filled with memorable characters and a dash of dark humour. I’m not too proud to say that Miss Spider scared me when I was little…
Fantastic Mr Fox
Sticking with Roald Dahl adaptations, The Fantastic Mr Fox is a 2009 film from Wes Anderson starring the vocal talent of George Clooney (before he was a coffee salesman), Meryl Streep and Bill Murray amongst others. This is the first animated film from Anderson and we think he’s done a cracking job! This one has a similar ‘animals vs farmers’ feel as Chicken Run which is a big part of its charm. The lion’s share of this film’s appeal to us is its willingness to embrace the stop-motion form. It was shot at 12 frames a second which exaggerates the ‘jerkiness’ of this method and proudly contrasts it to some of the other more fluid productions on this list.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Based on his own poem written during his time at Walt Disney Studios, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is arguably the most iconic of the producer’s stop-motion films. The emotions conveyed in clay here are truly astonishing. No wonder with there allegedly having been around 400 of his heads modelled throughout production, that’s dedication! Great tunes and an incredible atmosphere make this a must-watch for sure – the only question now is whether it’s a Halloween or a Christmas movie… Who cares?! Let’s just watch it on both!
Another one of Burton’s trademark dark fantasy films, Corpse Bride brings together Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (who else?) for a tale of love and death. It’s got it all: songs, angst, brooding, skeletons, what more could a Tim Burton fan ask for? This film was nominated for the 78th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature but lost out to…
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
That’s right! Aardman Studios’ very own Helena Bonham Carter-starring stop-motion hit! The second of these awards won by Dreamworks Animation after Shrek. Being Brits ourselves we’ve got a massive soft spot for anything Aardman, Wallace and Gromit especially. When this one came out in 2005 we thought it was a massive return to form for the duo and for their first feature-length outing it was a corker.
Here’s a stop-motion film which takes a pinch of inspiration from Alice in Wonderland but with a slightly spooky twist. In the production of Coraline, studio Laika pioneered and popularised the ingenious use of black and white 3D printing techniques to produce their puppets. This made them able to create a staggering amount of faces, making the lip-synching and emotive representation of the characters truly believable. Check out the impressive hair animation too!
Our list this week seems to lean heavily on the horror-comedy style, so here’s another! Sticking with Laika this is one of the most incredible examples of what’s possible when stop-motion meets computer generated effects. Again using 3D printing for puppet production (this time in colour) ParaNorman is an incredibly immersive and quirky experience. As with many of the other films featured on this post, this is definitely one which has appeal for the kids and adults alike. For more of this, check out our best Adult Jokes in Disney!
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!
I can hear you now: “another Aardman?” Okay, okay, we might be a little biased here but trust us, it’s for good reason! This 2012 movie follows descriptively named The Pirate Captain and his crew of amateur pirates in their quest to win the Pirate of the Year award. By far the best swashbuckler and with the most impressive beard without question this secures a place on our list. Those of you partial to a shanty or sea ditty or two, consider yourselves in luck.
The Little Prince
We come to an emotional end *sniff* with what we think is undisputedly the most polished instance of different animation types being used cohesively. The Little Prince is primarily a 3D animated film interspersed with beautiful stop-motion sequences and a peppering of 2D animation just for good measure. The result is a flawless utilisation of these different practices to tell different stories and evoke themes of imagination, bonding and childhood. Give this one a watch, you won’t be disappointed.
That’s all for now, I hope we’ve given you plenty to get stuck into! Got a different favourite we’ve neglected to mention? Remind us below in the comments!