Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

The 2013 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

Me and my Moulton: What exactly was the point of this thing? This Norwegian day-in-the-life film about three sisters and their parents has a few nice slice-of-life moments (the parents' modern-archetecture stools are a pretty good idea), but if there was actually a point to all this, I managed to miss it. These characters exist, and then we're done. Nothing much to it, really.

The Bigger Picture: A strange British piece done in a very odd art style (stop-motion chalk drawings on a wall), this film seems to be about nothing but the fact that two brothers are trying to take care of their elderly mother until she dies, and then they no longer have to do so. I can't really claim I hated this movie, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. It seemed to be about nothing more than the fact that your loved ones will die and you will let them down as they do so. Have fun.

A Single Life: And speaking of dour stuff (what the hell is with all the death in the animated shorts this year?), this quick little piece about a magical, time-traveling LP record is actually kind of cute. It doesn't overstay its welcome, it gets the idea across without dialogue, and its ending, dark though it is, is actually kind of funny. I don't know if larger points are on offer here and I just missed them or something, but I didn't mind it overmuch. This year's crop did not cause me to say that terribly often.

The Dam Keeper: Longest of the five offerings, this sweet little Pixar offering is done up in a very memorable art style of artwork-within-artwork, and like the previous short, works entirely without dialogue. There's not a whole lot on offer from the story here, with a pig who is picked on by his schoolmates and a fox who befriends him, but the style and design are enough to pull the movie through, along with the strange, ethereal qualities of the film's danger, a wall of shadowy darkness that spills over the town like fog, kept at bay by a windmill. Someone commented that this design might well have been inspired by the water-pumping windmills in Golden Gate Park, and the more I think of it, the more I think they were probably right. Not one of the great classics, perhaps, but still a nice little film.

And the award for Best Animated Short Film goes to...

Feast: Disney wins again. This rotoscoped short film that I first encountered in front of Big Hero 6 is a lovely, cute little piece about a dog and his owner and the many foods that the dog savors over the course of the film. Maybe I just have a soft spot for dogs (the dog movie won my award last time too), but this film's emotional core is as strong as anything Disney makes. The music, the animation, the storytelling by means of a dog's expressions and actions, this film gets everything right. Sometimes you simply have to reward the obvious heartstring-tugger. Animation is good at such things. And I just really like dogs.

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