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Under the radar: Nick Park, a stop-motion short and alternative anime

Under the radar: Nick Park, a stop-motion short and alternative anime
Hognob (Nick Park), left, and Dug (Eddie Redmayne) in the animated film “Early Man.” (Aardman)

Our annual compilation of overlooked films. Each reviewer chose five films to highlight.

“Early Man”: Even when he’s not working with his beloved Wallace and Gromit, four-time Oscar winner Nick Park is a singularly talented director who proves his stop-motion clay figures with their trademark underbite can be as expressive as the best drawn and CG characters. When caveman Dug sees a Bronze Age knife slicing bread, he declares it, “the greatest thing since … ever!” HBO GO; Amazon Prime

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“Love Me, Fear Me”: The standout film in the 20th “Animation Show of Shows” uses vivid stop-motion animation of a metamorphic clay figure to reference break-dancing, gymnastics, modern dance and martial arts kata. A celebration of observation and movement, this was director Veronica Solomon’s thesis film. She’s clearly a talent to watch.

"Mirai."
"Mirai." (GKIDS)

“Mirai”: Mamoru Hosoda’s fifth personal film, in which Kun, a happy 4-year-old, is shattered when his parents bring home a baby sister, is the first Japanese animated feature to be nominated for a Golden Globe. Hosoda juxtaposes a series of fantastic adventures that teach Kun his new place in the family — and the world — with charming animation of the chubby hero.

“My Hero Academia: Two Heroes”: In an era of unapologetic greed and selfishness, Deku, the nerdy hero of this popular franchise, strives to help anyone in danger, even if it means risking his life. Like Spider-Man, Deku believes that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

“The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl”: Quirky, offbeat and even off-putting at times, “alternative anime” director Masaaki Yuasa’s award-winning feature follows a drunken college student through the fleshpots of Kyoto. Yuasa is a highly original artist who follows his own vision — wherever it leads.

More, please: Films like the ones above that showcase the endless possibilities of the protean art of animation. Not every film benefits from the hyper-detailed look of so many recent CG features.

Enough already: Anthems. “The cold never bothered me anyway,” but formula songs with brassy vocals, swelling strings and blaring trumpets do.

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