When Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (pictured) opened, in limited release, on October15, 1993, it launched a renaissance in stop-motion animation. Sure, many moviegoers were already familiar with the technique, moving objects and figurines increment by increment so that they appeared to be in motion. We’d seen it in small doses, in special effects sequences in movies like King Kong or Jason and the Argonauts, or in crude but delightful form on TV programs like Gumby and the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and many others). But this was the first time a Hollywood studio had taken a gamble on a full-length stop-motion animated feature, and the gamble paid off with a smash hit and future dual-holiday classic.
Since then, there have been a number of great stop-motion features, many of them just as macabre or strange as Nightmare. Connoisseurs of the art form began to recognize such names as Henry Selick, Laika, Aardman, and Nick Park, among others. For the rest of us, we got to marvel at the occasional stop-motion achievement, something so idiosyncratic, tactile and hand-made in an era of impersonal CGI. Here are 10 such movies that knocked our socks off, frame by painstaking frame.
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