1. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (2016)
Travis Knight is the president and CEO of Laika but he’s also animated on almost every previous Laika project. But until “Kubo and the Two Strings,” he’d never directed a film. And whew boy did he knock it out of the park. The tale of a child, Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson), who lives in a kind of magical version of feudal Japan. He sets out on a journey that sees him confronting giant skeletons, befriending a grumpy snow monkey (Charlize Theron!) and tutored by what can only be described as some kind of human/beetle samurai (Matthew McConaughey). The entire thing is dizzying and discombobulating in the best possible way, with some of Laika’s most jaw-dropping designs and set pieces (that skeleton!) It is also the studio’s most melancholy and emotionally resonant feature, full of tiny moments that will conversely break your heart and lift your spirits. Weirdly overlooked and underrated, it’s the kind of movie that, once you watch it, feels like finding some kind of buried treasure, lost to time but exposed, now, just for you.