Mary and Max
A very unusual friendship forms the heart of Mary and Max, Adam Elliot's enchanting stopmotion animated debut feature. Mary (Toni Collette) is a lonely 8 year-old living in Australia who strikes up a pen pal relationship with Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a middle-aged, Jewish man with Asperger's Syndrome from New York. As it charts this friendship over the course of two decades, Mary and Max emerges as a tale that's both funny and sad, with Elliot's screenplay finding a perfect emotional pitch throughout. The film's animation style is distinctive and hugely imaginative, employing a wonderful use of colour (Mary's gifts introduce bright hues into Max's grey world) and some great visual gags, but it ultimately succeeds because of its resonant central story. Mary and Max is a touching portrayal of two lonely souls finding an unlikely connection, and it presents us with two of the year's most memorable film characters, who are brought to vivid life by Collette and Hoffman's outstanding vocal performances.