This year’s Oscar nominated animated shorts range from the traditionally told to the metaphorical, from computer animated images to painted pages, and — like any awards list — from good to not-so-good. And for perhaps the first time in my life, I’ve seen all of them before having seen all the animated feature nominees! Below are some of my very quick impressions on each of the films vying for the Animated Short Oscar this Sunday, in order of how I might rank them.
Room on the Broom
I’ll admit that for the first few minutes I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by this short. It had an A-list voice cast but the animation designs looked more like a low quality Saturday morning pre-school show. However, that all faded to the back of mind as I was charmed by the story and the character animation. Sure I may not have been wowed by their looks, but the artists brought them to life with the way they moved, the way they reacted to each other, and in other subtle ways. At 25 minutes, the longest but easily most re-watchable and enjoyable short on the list.
With no dialogue and an entirely predictable plot, this short has to work a little harder right off the bat. It starts off strong with extremely well polished production values. It follows that up with an interesting world you want to explore and unique characters to inhabit it. And they follow through with the predictable plot by at least doing a very good job telling the story. Definitely worth a see, but not a short that will stick in your memory.
When I think of a typical independent animated short, I usually think of something dark and brooding, roughly drawn, and with an allegorical subtext I think I’ve figured out until the end. Feral fits the bill! The least approachable short on the program, but really the only one you might think about on the way home as it alone asks the audience to do more than sit on their seat and enjoy. It’s also the only one that felt truly independently made, rather than being produced by a large company.
Get a Horse!
Disney’s entry this year is the fan favorite, but I don’t get what the hoopla is about. Yes, it was fun to see the classic characters in the vintage style. Yes, the 3D was very good. But story wise it was a mess — especially when trying to shoehorn in archival sound recordings for dialogue. A lot of my complaints may have more to do with the 1920s era storytelling they were mimicking, but copying weak storytelling well doesn’t change the fact that it was weak. Get a Horse may win, but it will probably be because of the nostalgia factor.
I always feel like I have to say this whenever I review a Japanese title, but apparently our cultural sensibilities are not simpatico! Love them as a people, hate their movies! While Possessions is beautiful to behold, everything else about it is simplistic and non-sensical. I get that they believe there is a deeper message behind the story, but it seems like the writers were trying too hard to be profound and mysterious at the expense of everything else.