TAGGED AS: , ,

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

49 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 47 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.

Of course, no stop-motion list feels complete without a drawn-out tribute to legendary animator Ray Harryhausen. He got his start on 1949’s Mighty Joe Young (working with the same team behind the milestone ape effects of King Kong), and over the next three decades, ignited imaginations in fantasy and sword-and-sandals by bringing monsters to life in films like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Other films that combine live-action and and stop-motion include Selick’s James and the Giant Peach and Jan Svankmajer’s Alice. After gathering all of the films across cinema history, we’re sorting them by Tomatometer, with Certified Fresh films first.

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

#1

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
99%81%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104610%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown.
Synopsis: All is well at Mossy Bottom Farm, except for the fact that the animals will do anything to get out... [More]

#2

My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
99%89%

#2
Adjusted Score: 107915%
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: A police officer (Nick Offerman) and some new friends help an orphan adjust to life at a foster home.... [More]
Directed By: Claude Barras

#3

King Kong (1933)
96%86%

#3
Adjusted Score: 112184%
Critics Consensus: King Kong explores the soul of a monster -- making audiences scream and cry throughout the film -- in large part due to Kong's breakthrough special effects.
Synopsis: Actress Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) travel to the Indian Ocean to do location shoots... [More]

#4
Adjusted Score: 100372%
Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio delivers fully on its title -- which is to say it's a visually stunning adaptation that embraces its source material's darkness.
Synopsis: Academy Award®-winning director Guillermo del Toro and award-winning, stop-motion legend Mark Gustafson reimagine the classic Carlo Collodi tale of the... [More]

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 109863%
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: Young Kubo's (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now... [More]
Directed By: Travis Knight

#6

Chicken Run (2000)
97%65%

#6
Adjusted Score: 102653%
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: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#7
Adjusted Score: 100492%
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: When a UFO crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, it's up to Shaun the sheep and his animal friends to help... [More]

#8

The Wolf House (2018)
96%--

#8
Adjusted Score: 98507%
Critics Consensus: Surreal, unsettling, and finally haunting, The Wolf House is a stunning outpouring of creativity whose striking visuals queasily complement its disturbing story.
Synopsis: A young woman takes refuge in a strange house in the woods after escaping from a German colony in southern... [More]

#9
Adjusted Score: 101950%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Steve Box

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 101306%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#11

Mary and Max (2009)
95%92%

#11
Adjusted Score: 96819%
Critics Consensus: Mary and Max is a lovingly crafted, startlingly inventive piece of animation whose technical craft is equaled by its emotional resonance.
Synopsis: A lonely Australian girl (Toni Collette) and an elderly Jewish man (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in New York develop an unlikely... [More]
Directed By: Adam Elliot

#12

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
93%85%

#12
Adjusted Score: 102673%
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: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#13

Mad God (2021)
93%67%

#13
Adjusted Score: 95289%
Critics Consensus: A rich visual treat for film fans, Mad God proves that even in the age of CGI, the cinematic allure of stop-motion animation remains strong.
Synopsis: Follow The Assassin through a forbidding world of tortured souls, decrepit bunkers, and wretched monstrosities forged from the most primordial... [More]
Directed By: Phil Tippett

#14

The Little Prince (2015)
92%84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 97020%
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: The Aviator introduces a girl to a world where she rediscovers her childhood and learns that it's human connections that... [More]
Directed By: Mark Osborne

#15

Anomalisa (2015)
91%71%

#15
Adjusted Score: 106903%
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: An inspirational speaker (David Thewlis) becomes reinvigorated after meeting a lively woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who shakes up his mundane... [More]

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 94530%
Critics Consensus: The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment.
Synopsis: Featuring stop-motion animation and live action, this inventive adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's tale follows the adventures of James... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#17

Isle of Dogs (2018)
90%87%

#17
Adjusted Score: 107772%
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: When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island,... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#18

Coraline (2009)
90%73%

#18
Adjusted Score: 100758%
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: While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#19

ParaNorman (2012)
89%72%

#19
Adjusted Score: 95992%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
Synopsis: Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead -- and he often prefers their company... [More]
Directed By: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 92572%
Critics Consensus: Don Chaffey's Jason and the Argonauts is an outlandish, transportive piece of nostalgia whose real star is the masterful stop-motion animation work of Ray Harryhausen.
Synopsis: After saving the life of his royal father's usurper, Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), whom he fails to recognize, Jason (Todd Armstrong)... [More]
Directed By: Don Chaffey

#21

Missing Link (2019)
88%67%

#21
Adjusted Score: 96634%
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: Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link -- 8 feet tall and covered in fur... [More]
Directed By: Chris Butler

#22

Frankenweenie (2012)
87%70%

#22
Adjusted Score: 95377%
Critics Consensus: Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.
Synopsis: Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend:... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 91606%
Critics Consensus: As can be expected from a Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride is whimsically macabre, visually imaginative, and emotionally bittersweet.
Synopsis: Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria's (Emily Watson) families have arranged their marriage. Though they like each other, Victor is nervous... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

#24

Wendell & Wild (2022)
80%67%

#24
Adjusted Score: 83453%
Critics Consensus: Boasting visual marvels to match its ambitious and inclusive story, Wendell & Wild is a spooky treat for budding horror fans.
Synopsis: From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick and Jordan Peele, comes Wendell & Wild, an animated tale about scheming... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#25

A Town Called Panic (2009)
81%85%

#25
Adjusted Score: 83088%
Critics Consensus: A Town Called Panic is a raucous, endlessly creative animated romp with a quirky, adult sense of humor.
Synopsis: In this animated film, Cowboy (Stéphane Aubier) and Indian (Bruce Ellison) plan to construct a barbecue pit for the birthday... [More]

#26

Early Man (2018)
80%49%

#26
Adjusted Score: 87982%
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: A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to... [More]
Directed By: Nick Park

#27

The Boxtrolls (2014)
78%63%

#27
Adjusted Score: 84199%
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: Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), an orphan, lives with the Boxtrolls -- a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who inhabit a cavern... [More]

#28

$9.99 (2008)
73%56%

#28
Adjusted Score: 74333%
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: Residents of a Sydney, Australia, apartment complex look for meaning in their lives.... [More]
Directed By: Tatia Rosenthal

#29
Adjusted Score: 100954%
Critics Consensus: An endearing and meticulous showcase of stop-motion animation, The Wrong Trousers also happens to be laugh-out-loud funny.
Synopsis: Gromit suspects something's up when he catches their new boarder, a mute penguin, altering Wallace's new techno-trousers.... [More]
Starring: Peter Sallis
Directed By: Nick Park

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 103277%
Critics Consensus: The Adventures of Prince Achmed's exquisitely crafted visuals are more than matched by its utterly enchanting story.
Synopsis: A handsome prince with a flying horse befriends a witch, meets Aladdin, and battles demons to win a princess' heart.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Lotte Reiniger, Karl Koch

#31
Adjusted Score: 100596%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wallace and Gromit enjoy a day out with a difference when a quest to find cheese prompts a visit to... [More]
Starring: Peter Sallis
Directed By: Nick Park

#32

A Close Shave (1995)
100%92%

#32
Adjusted Score: 85929%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wallace's whirlwind romance with the owner of the local wool shop puts his head in a spin; Gromit is framed... [More]
Directed By: Nick Park

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 100909%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Sailing to Baghdad after a narrow escape from the monster island of Colossa, the wedding plans of legendary hero Sinbad... [More]
Directed By: Nathan Juran

#34

Le Roman de Renard (1930)
100%88%

#34
Adjusted Score: 73171%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: King Lion orders Master Fox arrested for tricking animals.... [More]

#35

Alice (1989)
95%80%

#35
Adjusted Score: 73489%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Czech director Jan Svankmajer's surreal adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book, Alice (Kristyna Kohoutova) follows her stuffed rabbit... [More]
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 93409%
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: A lanky mailman (voiced by Fred Astaire) tells the story of Santa Claus. Adopted by an elf family named Kringle,... [More]

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 79901%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a forest, a group of white mice commission a doll from the Creatures Who Dwell Under The Oak. But... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Christiane Cegavske

#38

Fantastic Planet (1973)
91%87%

#38
Adjusted Score: 91492%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
Synopsis: This animated tale follows the relationship between the small human-like Oms and their much larger blue-skinned oppressors, the Draags, who... [More]
Directed By: René Laloux

#39

Mighty Joe Young (1949)
91%64%

#39
Adjusted Score: 93627%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jill Young (Terry Moore) has raised Joe, her gentle pet gorilla, since he was a baby. When a Hollywood, Calif.,... [More]
Directed By: Ernest B. Schoedsack

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 91146%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Near the Arctic Circle researchers detonate a nuclear device and unwittingly thaw a prehistoric beast frozen for millions of years.... [More]
Directed By: Eugene Lourie

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 90892%
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: Sidelined by a nasty cold and feeling unneeded, Santa decides not to make his annual Christmas journey. Elves Jingle and... [More]

#42

Consuming Spirits (2012)
89%76%

#42
Adjusted Score: 67361%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three residents (Robert Levy, Nancy Andrews, Chris Sullivan) of a small Rust Belt town lead sad, interconnected lives.... [More]
Directed By: Chris Sullivan

#43

The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
80%60%

#43
Adjusted Score: 34710%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Wild West showman (James Franciscus) and his cowboys find dinosaurs near a Mexican town and put one on display.... [More]
Directed By: James O'Connelly

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 32121%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this claymation film, celebrated author Mark Twain (James Whitmore), displeased with the state of humanity, sets off in a... [More]
Directed By: Will Vinton

#45
#45
Adjusted Score: 46416%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Sinbad's adventure pits him against a master magician who's trying to reach the Fountain of Destiny on the lost land... [More]
Directed By: Gordon Hessler

#46

Toys in the Attic (2009)
73%80%

#46
Adjusted Score: 44792%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A teddy bear, a mechanical mouse and a marionette join forces to save their kidnapped friend, Buttercup the doll, from... [More]
Directed By: Jiri Barta

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 73308%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A manned space flight from Venus crash lands in the Mediterranean, losing its most precious cargo: reptilian eggs from the... [More]
Directed By: Nathan Juran

#48

First Men in the Moon (1964)
67%53%

#48
Adjusted Score: 57391%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Around the turn of the 20th century, Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries), a brilliant British scientist, creates his own spacecraft and... [More]
Directed By: Nathan Juran

#49

Clash of the Titans (1981)
63%70%

#49
Adjusted Score: 65583%
Critics Consensus: A goofy, old-school sword-and-sandal epic, Clash of the Titans mines Greek mythology for its story and fleshes it out with Ray Harryhausen's charmingly archaic stop-motion animation techniques.
Synopsis: Perseus (Harry Hamlin), son of the Greek god Zeus (Laurence Olivier), grows up on a deserted island. His destiny is... [More]
Directed By: Desmond Davis