Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

23 February 2016

Oscar Nominees 2016: Part 11 of 11 (Best Animated Short Film)


Historia de un Oso (Bear Story)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Gabriel Osorio

This is one of the most imaginative things I've seen in ages. Osorio's film is a film-within-a-film. We watch a bear who is a street performer, operating a kind of hand-cranked storytelling machine. The machine tells a story of how the bear himself was once kidnapped and then enslaved by a circus. So instead of watching the story animated in a standard way, we watch a kind of clockwork toy version of the bear and his family. This, of course, is animated, as well, but the detail, because the animated bears and trees and buildings are all clockwork versions of themselves, is absolutely stunning. Bear Story is a fabulous achievement. Can it win the Oscar? Your guess is as good as mine. I think the competition here is really stiff. These are some great movies.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Short Film


Sanjay's Super Team
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Sanjay Patel
Cast: Brent Schraff

This film is charming. It played in front of Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, but was in fact much better than the main attraction (which was not nominated for an Oscar). Sanjay's Super Team follows a young man who is not interested in the religion that his dad practices, and would prefer, instead, to watch cartoons. Through a series of delightful sequences in which his dad's Hindu gods are themselves revealed to have superpowers with the ability to fight evil, Sanjay learns to respect his dad's beliefs and comes to learn a little bit about his father's culture. It's a cool little picture and will probably be the favorite to win on the 28th.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Short Film


We Can't Live without Cosmos
 (Мы Не Можем Жить без Космоса)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film

We Can't Live without Cosmos was my favorite of the animated shorts. They are almost all fantastic, so choosing between them will be difficult for anyone. They are just so good this year. But WCLWC is a film about friendship and about loneliness and about living inside of a dream so much that it spurs you to live your life to its full capacity. This film is absolute magic and I adored it from start to finish. It's (for some reason) not a part of the shorts program that is available via Amazon video, but luckily it is available on the New Yorker's website here, and you can watch it in full. I recommend that you do. I can't recommend it enough. It's quirky and fun while also being touching and wonderful. I loved it so much that I am going to predict that it will win the Oscar, even though such a win seems rather unlikely.
Will Win: Animated Short Film
Could Win: N/A


Prologue
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film

Prologue is another gorgeous selection in this category. This (very) short film is the story of a small skirmish during (what appears to be) the Peloponnesian War between the Spartans and the Athenians. The film doesn't take sides at all, but rather pays close attention to the bodily harm that each of the soldiers does to each other. We see into each of their eyes before they fight, and we come to know them very briefly before they move in to murder each other. This is a beautiful dance of death, but it is only beautiful; that is, it is not a dance without horror, and Prologue takes care to register disgust and horror at the senseless slaughter that is the subject matter of the film. This is a hard little gem of a picture.

Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A


World of Tomorrow
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Cast: Julia Pott, Winona Mae

This little film was not for me. The animation is the stick figures you see above – which is not bad per se, since you know I loved Boy & the World – but they are actually not cute at all in Don Hertzfeldt's film. World of Tomorrow is also about a dystopian future. It takes a kind of wryly humorous attitude toward this dystopian future, as well, and this attitude didn't go over well with me. Call me serious, but the idea of the world's poor attempting to time-travel and then accidentally projecting themselves outside of the Earth's atmosphere only to burn up on re-entry as falling stars is not exactly hilarious to me. In any case, World of Tomorrow was the only one of this year's animated shorts that I didn't love, so that's not half bad.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A