I always love seeing all the shorts before the Oscars. And I always lament that we don’t get to see one of them before a feature, as we should. Sure, it would cut into theater owners profits by taking time away from the barrage of ads we are forced to sit through, but wouldn’t it be fun!
This years animated shorts were pretty spectacular. They all have different strengths. Some are great story. Some are great animation. All are worth viewing!
Bear Story by Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
This 11-minute wonder is the tale of a street performing bear who has created an amazing diorama in a box that tells his own very sad story. The animation is incredibly creative, and the story itself is both sweet and tragic. The film was made by Chileans and was no doubt heavily influenced by the dark years of Pinochet and his thugs taking innocents away, many never to be seen again. This was definitely one of my favorites.
Sanjay’s Super Team by Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
If you saw Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, you probably saw this lovely little flick before it. (I hear it is more memorable than the feature.) It is the story of a Hindu kid who’d rather play superhero video games than pray with his dad. But his view of religion is completely altered when he starts to see those Hindu gods as superheroes themselves. It’s somewhat psychedelic, and very sweet. The story isn’t deep, but it is entertaining, and it is by far the most mainstream of the entries.
We Can’t Live without Cosmos by Konstantin Bronzit
This Russian entry was longer than most, but worth every minute. It is the story of two cosmonauts who are in training for a space mission. Their lives are very regimented, but they’re besties and they love to have silly fun when the trainers are not around. The story is unbelievable sweet and, without one word of dialogue, their deep relationship is conveyed through pitch perfect visual storytelling. It may be set in the world of cosmonauts, but it’s really the story of a beautiful friendship, and it balances heart and humor and sadness with an incredibly adept hand. It think if I was a voting member of the Academy, I’d be torn between this one and Bear Story for the award.
World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt
This totally odd flick is about a cloned person from the future talking to the original from which she was cloned many years in the past, who just happens to be a toddler named Emily. The animation is pretty much stick figures, but somehow it works. The gist of it is that people figured out how to clone themselves and put all their memories into their clone so they achieve a sort of immortality. Emily from the future walks the original Emily through several of her future extremely absurd lives. The odd thing here is that little Emily seems like she may not even understand what Emily clone is talking about. And at the end of the stories, Emily Clone reveals her true purpose for the visit. It’s definitely a strange and trippy film, but I enjoyed it.
Prologue by Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
This one felt like the weakest of the nominees. It is beautifully hand-drawn animation and I would bet that is what got it the nomination. But story-wise it is totally lacking. It is a six-minute battle between warriors with arrows and spears. That is all it is. No telling who or why or when. I would love to see this team draw a story worth investing in. I was just waiting for something that never came, like a character. I think this one was about wasted talent. It takes a very long time to draw all those frames. The title promises that there is more. I hope they have a story. (This one is definitely not for kids. There is nudity and lots of gore.)