Director: Timothy and Stephen Quay
Stars: Mark Rylance, Alice Krige, Gottfried John
Institute Benjamenta is easily the most unique film on this list, as it's not completely animated, and the parts that are aren't of the pencil and paper variety. Instead the movie blends live-action and stop-motion animation into a surreal world that's reminiscent of what David Lynch achieved on Eraserhead, yet much more bizarre. We're bending our own rules to include it, but the legendary Quay brothers had to get a mention here somehow.
With this film, the Brothers Quay use their sizable talents to bring haunting, inexplicable visuals to the screen. One of the highlights is a bullet being shot from a gun which then moves through a forest and eventually pierces the heart of a pinecone, all of which is animated in gorgeous slow motion. It's small scenes of stop-motion like this that add to the dreamlike quality of the movie. The film itself is based on the novel Jakob von Gunten, about a young man who enters a school to learn how to be servants to those people who are perceived as better than him.
There are shades of Franz Kafka and Fritz Lang throughout, and the combination of live-action and stop-motion makes Institute Benjamenta one of the most original examples of animation ever made. —JS