Director: Henry Selick
Stars: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Paul Reubens
Somewhere between a Halloween horror movie and a feel-good Christmastime flick is The Nightmare Before Christmas, the revolutionary stop-motion musical written and produced by (Who else?) Tim Burton.
Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, is in a rut. He's tired of celebrating Halloween in the same ghoulish ways year after year, but after stumbling upon a portal to Christmas Town, he has an idea: He's going to capture the holiday spirit—literally—by kidnapping Santa Claus (a.k.a. Sandy Claws), the town's benevolent leader. But things aren't so cheery with Jack in charge of Christmas Town; the formerly happy holiday has become a rather morbid affair, with shrunken heads replacing sugar and spice for recipients on Santa's Nice list.
Based on a poem Burton wrote in the early '80s, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of that rare breed of cinemakind that has something to offer (almost) all viewers. Visually arresting, the film is the first stop-motion picture to be filmed entirely in 3-D (an achievement Disney capitalized on when it re-released the film in 3-D in the fall of 2006 and on Blu-ray 3-D in 2011). But it's got just as much substance as it does style-and employs the talents of composer Danny Elfman (who voices Jack) to great effect, giving audiences more than just a snippet of score. While audiences rank the film as one of the season's best cinematic treats, Elfman called it "one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. I had a lot in common with Jack Skellington."