“The Boxtrolls”, the latest animated creation from Focus Features and Laika Animation, opens this weekend. Believe it or not, it will be only the 12th major stop-motion animated film ever released. While I didn’t see 2001’s “Monkeybone”, directed by Henry Selick, I have seen the other 11 – some of them multiple times. Here’s my ranking:
1. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – Released in 2009 and adapted from Roald Dahl’s book, director Wes Anderson deepens the basic story to a complex family drama with a lot of quirky humor. Superb animation and excellent voice work from George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman.
2. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” – 2005’s Best Animated Feature Oscar winner is packed with wit and charm, with outstanding work from the iconic Aardman Animations team.
3. “Frankenweenie” – Completely in black and white, Tim Burton’s 2012 remake of his live-action short from 1984 is a mix of emotions: funny and dramatic, sad and uplifting. This is one of Burton’s all-time best.
4. “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Since 1993, a true holiday tradition, whether it’s Halloween, Christmas, or both.
5. “ParaNorman” – Laika’s 2012 action/adventure gave us many laughs and a few scares, with some of the most daring stop-motion animation ever put on film.
6. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” – Out just a few months earlier, and overlooked by most audiences, this is a consistently hilarious satire on pirate movies with Hugh Grant, perfect as the voice of The Pirate Captain.
7. “The Boxtrolls” – Gorgeous animation, accompanied by a terrific voice ensemble and multi-layered themes, make this a lock for an Oscar nod.
8. “James and the Giant Peach” – Fun and memorable for its time (1996), with bold characters and an upbeat spirit.
9. “Chicken Run” – Still the highest-grossing in the genre ($106M back in 2000), it’s a very entertaining effort from Aardman.
10. “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” – The music and animation are strong but, coming 12 years after “Nightmare”, the story wasn’t groundbreaking or memorable.
11. “Coraline” – I still don’t understand why so many people have fallen in love with this movie since its 2009 release. For me, it just doesn’t have nearly the impact as the rest of these films on this list.