(Photo by Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: DreamWorks SKG, Buena Vista Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

30 Best Stop-Motion Animated Movies of All Time

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 30 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.

We included only movies where stop motion is a majority of the presentation, which opened the way for James and the Giant Peach and Jan Švankmajer’s twisted Alice. So while we adore the individual creature effects by Ray Harryhausen in Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad movies, or ED-209 in RoboCop, and even the aforementioned Life Aquatic, you won’t be seeing them here. After we collected the 30 highest-rated movies, we sorted the list by Adjusted Tomatometer, which accounts for the movie’s number of reviews and release year.

Now, read on to discover the 30 best stop-motion animated movies!

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 67.06%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Christopher Sullivan's animated dystopia is about as far from a cartoon-for-kids as they come. Relationships among the three main characters... [More]

#29

$9.99 (2008)
73%

#29
Adjusted Score: 74.35%
Critics Consensus: Its storyline isn't as wondrous as its visuals, but $9.99 has a sophistication and handmade charm that sets it apart from the animated pack.
Synopsis: Have you ever wondered "What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?" The answer to this vexing question... [More]
Directed By: Tatia Rosenthal

#28
Adjusted Score: 82.764%
Critics Consensus: A Town Called Panic is a raucous, endlessly creative animated romp with a quirky, adult sense of humor.
Synopsis: This unusual feature (a French-Belgian-Luxembourgian co-production) stylistically recalls the work of Art Clokey (Gumby, Davey and Goliath), with its lead... [More]

#27

The Boxtrolls (2014)
77%

#27
Adjusted Score: 83.563%
Critics Consensus: While it's far from Laika's best offering, The Boxtrolls is still packed with enough offbeat wit and visual splendor to offer a healthy dose of all-ages entertainment.
Synopsis: A family event movie from the creators of "Coraline" and "ParaNorman" that introduces audiences to a new breed of family... [More]

#26

Early Man (2018)
81%

#26
Adjusted Score: 88.054%
Critics Consensus: Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.
Synopsis: In this stop-motion animated comedy set in prehistoric times, a tribe of primitive hunters are displaced from their homes by... [More]
Directed By:

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 90.566%
Critics Consensus: As can be expected from a Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride is whimsically macabre, visually imaginative, and emotionally bittersweet.
Synopsis: Tim Burton returns to the dark but fanciful animated style of The Nightmare Before Christmas with this stop-motion black comedy.... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

#24
Adjusted Score: 91.405%
Critics Consensus: It may not quite scale Aardman's customary delirious heights, but The Pirates! still represents some of the smartest, most skillfully animated fare that modern cinema has to offer.
Synopsis: In The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt

#23
Adjusted Score: 91.58%
Critics Consensus: Have no fear! Mrs Claus spreads holiday cheer in The Year Without Santa, a holiday classic full of unforgettable songs and characters that stays true to the Christmas spirit.
Synopsis: In Jules Bass' puppet-animated A Year Without A Santa Claus, an elf and a young boy have to rescue Santa... [More]

#22
Adjusted Score: 88.034%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The film for this rare full-length animated feature was fully developed and shot by 1930 - just when sound was... [More]
Directed By: Wladyslaw Starewicz

#21

Fantastic Planet (1973)
91%

#21
Adjusted Score: 93.667%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
Synopsis: This futuristic story takes place on a faraway planet where giants rule, and oppressed humanoids rebel against the machine-like leaders.... [More]
Directed By: René Laloux

#20
Adjusted Score: 93.983%
Critics Consensus: Arriving with light-hearted cheeriness and the best musical numbers, Santa Claus Is Comin To Town is a magical story told by charming wood-figure animation.
Synopsis: The story of how Santa Claus came to be is brought to life through the magic of stop-motion animation in... [More]

#19

ParaNorman (2012)
89%

#19
Adjusted Score: 95.744%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
Synopsis: The new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, reteaming the company with Focus Features after the groundbreaking Academy... [More]
Directed By: Sam Fell, Chris Butler

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 94.967%
Critics Consensus: The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment.
Synopsis: A young boy's discovery of a gigantic peach triggers an eventful journey across the sea in this strikingly designed and... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#17

Frankenweenie (2012)
87%

#17
Adjusted Score: 95.293%
Critics Consensus: Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.
Synopsis: From creative genius Tim Burton comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#16

Missing Link (2019)
88%

#16
Adjusted Score: 94.808%
Critics Consensus: Another beautifully animated triumph for Laika, Missing Link is a visual treat with lots of humor, plenty of heart, and even a little food for thought.
Synopsis: This April, meet Mr. Link (Galifianakis): 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, but don't let his appearance... [More]
Directed By: Chris Butler

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 96.183%
Critics 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.
Synopsis: Kung-fu Panda director Mark Osborne teams with producers Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam for this animated take on Antoine de... [More]
Directed By: Mark Osborne

#14

Mary and Max (2009)
95%

#14
Adjusted Score: 96.396%
Critics Consensus: Mary and Max is a lovingly crafted, startlingly inventive piece of animation whose technical craft is equaled by its emotional resonance.
Synopsis: Spanning 20 years and two continents, "Mary and Max" tells of a pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary... [More]
Directed By: Adam Elliot

#13

Coraline (2009)
90%

#13
Adjusted Score: 98.914%
Critics Consensus: With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining.
Synopsis: Coraline Jones is a girl of 11 who is feisty, curious, and adventurous beyond her years. She and her parents... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#12
Adjusted Score: 98.623%
Critics Consensus: A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon retains the charm of its small-screen source material while engagingly expanding the title character's world.
Synopsis: What begins as an ordinary day for Shaun the Sheep (Justin Fletcher) turns out to be anything but, when an... [More]
Starring: Justin Fletcher
Directed By: Richard Starzak

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 101.03%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal -- and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Synopsis: Mr. and Mrs. Fox live an idyllic home life with their son Ash and visiting young nephew Kristopherson. But after... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 95.831%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Svankmajer, who gained a reputation for his short subjects, makes his feature-film debut with Neco z... [More]
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer

#9
Adjusted Score: 101.103%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Synopsis: Eccentric inventor Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis) and his faithful if often perplexed dog Gromit are back in their first... [More]
Directed By: Steve Box

#8

Anomalisa (2015)
92%

#8
Adjusted Score: 102.683%
Critics Consensus: Anomalisa marks another brilliant and utterly distinctive highlight in Charlie Kaufman's filmography, and a thought-provoking treat for fans of introspective cinema.
Synopsis: A man struggles with his inability to connect with other people.... [More]

#7
Adjusted Score: 102.733%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: Despite having recently presided over a very successful Halloween, Jack Skellington, aka the Pumpkin King, is bored with his job... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick, Tim Burton

#6

Chicken Run (2000)
97%

#6
Adjusted Score: 103.15%
Critics 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.
Synopsis: A comedy drama set on a Yorkshire chicken farm in 1950s England, the story follows the turbulent romance between Rocky... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#5
Adjusted Score: 104.126%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: German director Lotte Reiniger spent three years making this silent animated film based on the Arabian Nights legends. The dashing... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Lotte Reiniger

#4
Adjusted Score: 104.239%
Critics 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.
Synopsis: After his mother's sudden death, Zucchini is befriended by a police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster... [More]
Directed By: Claude Barras

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 105.17%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown.
Synopsis: When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he... [More]

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 105.518%
Critics 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.
Synopsis: Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. Clever,... [More]
Directed By: Travis Knight

#1

Isle of Dogs (2018)
90%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105.798%
Critics Consensus: The beautifully stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs finds Wes Anderson at his detail-oriented best while telling one of the director's most winsomely charming stories.
Synopsis: In this stop-motion-animated film from writer/director Wes Anderson, an outbreak of canine flu in Japan leads all dogs to be... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

Tag Cloud

spanish language Fox Searchlight Emmy Nominations The Arrangement archives VOD Cannes richard e. Grant HBO Max Tubi Comic-Con@Home 2021 Tarantino ratings talk show PBS politics dark comiccon quibi Pride Month political drama king kong harry potter TV Land laika basketball Funimation TV movies dceu Election new york travel ABC Family cats joker Awards Tour Pacific Islander PaleyFest finale jurassic park spider-man indiana jones Film chucky kong Dark Horse Comics psychological thriller sitcom TBS New York Comic Con 72 Emmy Awards Summer Disney+ Disney Plus name the review police drama 2015 award winner venice documentaries slashers See It Skip It Country BBC America TV renewals Drama 45 halloween Fall TV game of thrones Sundance video on demand Wes Anderson zero dark thirty kaiju Fantasy Awards best Hear Us Out DirecTV heist movie Winter TV aliens YouTube Fox News Netflix Christmas movies Lifetime Christmas movies latino First Look biography Comedy adventure nature comic Certified Fresh Television Academy movie Travel Channel witnail Marvel LGBT Discovery Channel Western nfl telelvision binge all-time Schedule San Diego Comic-Con MTV TV Comics on TV superhero Hallmark FX on Hulu Red Carpet 99% unscripted documentary TCA 2017 Film Festival Sneak Peek Song of Ice and Fire docudrama OneApp CBS All Access streaming MCU hist TNT scary movies Alien concert Quiz National Geographic Vudu ABC Set visit versus Masterpiece A24 Superheroes Tokyo Olympics rom-coms Comedy Central free movies OWN Anna Paquin Arrowverse Paramount Plus Paramount Cartoon Network MSNBC 2020 disaster 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards SDCC Exclusive Video stoner Chilling Adventures of Sabrina natural history stop motion 2018 TLC Family Heroines Reality AMC festivals Rom-Com Pirates El Rey TCA Interview Creative Arts Emmys anime 007 boxing robots Winners IFC 2017 dramedy Television Critics Association singing competition golden globe awards hispanic halloween tv criterion The Purge toronto Rocky batman Elton John GLAAD james bond historical drama Endgame GoT pirates of the caribbean 21st Century Fox serial killer 2016 Ellie Kemper The Walt Disney Company The CW hollywood doctor who vampires cops Ovation miniseries Classic Film Mary Poppins Returns X-Men Baby Yoda revenge Action CBS technology DGA sequels First Reviews Mudbound popular 24 frames festival Chernobyl zombie scene in color RT History 4/20 DC streaming service Emmys cancelled television dragons Showtime Star Trek Holiday football USA Network parents christmas movies BET dc Holidays CW Seed rotten sports Nat Geo romantic comedy reboot deadpool justice league Adult Swim godzilla Hallmark Christmas movies directors Apple TV+ independent Thanksgiving BET Awards south america Academy Awards Hulu VICE worst movies canceled prank WGN a nightmare on elm street Mindy Kaling NBC comic books animated The Academy PlayStation BBC One Broadway Writers Guild of America period drama 71st Emmy Awards Columbia Pictures Sony Pictures Women's History Month child's play critics Epix CMT comedies fresh crime thriller FXX Oscars Pop TV Countdown scorecard LGBTQ Spike green book zombies 2019 Trophy Talk science fiction fast and furious TCA Winter 2020 french live action Pixar Biopics Comic Book Spectrum Originals Peacock BBC Sundance Now Esquire Stephen King CNN Trailer Apple TV Plus war ID renewed TV shows classics Lionsgate Netflix dogs Superheroe Disney Plus worst 2021 Video Games elevated horror crime medical drama Infographic USA Ghostbusters sag awards Amazon Studios Reality Competition new zealand Black Mirror TCA Awards Nominations ViacomCBS screenings thriller GIFs Syfy History Marathons cancelled The Witch Musical Sci-Fi franchise Cosplay NBA Apple Music Tomatazos Year in Review Extras blockbusters streaming movies Pop true crime cults Marvel Studios international mission: impossible japanese Star Wars cartoon anthology rt archives YA die hard theme song werewolf Horror Paramount Network tv talk cinemax high school cooking Animation marvel cinematic universe Pet Sematary hidden camera Shondaland BAFTA ITV Walt Disney Pictures ghosts TIFF Amazon Prime DC Comics emmy awards saw mockumentary spanish kids blockbuster Opinion women Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt game show Mary poppins cancelled TV series olympics universal monsters razzies indie Amazon Prime Video Christmas VH1 Character Guide diversity mutant Marvel Television adaptation foreign Black History Month Legendary twilight remakes Polls and Games suspense Sundance TV Universal FX Podcast spain films Martial Arts Food Network Nickelodeon Kids & Family Musicals Best and Worst Premiere Dates ESPN Avengers FOX Toys Crunchyroll romance Lifetime ABC Signature Bravo Captain marvel video crossover Acorn TV screen actors guild golden globes television children's TV strong female leads psycho 1990s satire RT21 italian The Walking Dead social media SXSW Spring TV crime drama monster movies australia Valentine's Day A&E rotten movies we love cancelled TV shows toy story E3 Trivia Disney streaming service sequel lord of the rings E! teaser reviews obituary Turner Britbox Tumblr new star wars movies Grammys book discovery Crackle Disney 93rd Oscars series black Watching Series stand-up comedy jamie lee curtis Rocketman canceled TV shows asian-american docuseries superman Box Office Amazon transformers adenture facebook YouTube Red YouTube Premium Lucasfilm Brie Larson 90s based on movie Freeform Starz spinoff TCM Teen aapi Mystery TV One Calendar book adaptation trailers Mary Tyler Moore Turner Classic Movies HBO what to watch supernatural Photos Shudder President cars news DC Universe movies WarnerMedia target breaking bad Super Bowl comics Logo blaxploitation composers Rock IFC Films American Society of Cinematographers casting TruTV HBO Go NYCC SundanceTV boxoffice japan know your critic nbcuniversal space Warner Bros. APB Disney Channel Binge Guide spy thriller Image Comics 20th Century Fox