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

14 February 2017

Oscar Noms 2017: 9 of 13 (Animated Short Films)

Part 1 - La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival
Part 2 - Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion
Part 3 - Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie
Part 4 - Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, Rogue One
Part 5 - Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, A Man Called Ove
Part 6 - Captain Fantastic, Elle, Loving, Nocturnal Animals
Part 7 - The Lobster, 20th Century Women, Silence, Hail, Caesar!
Part 8 - Live-action Short Films

Part 9:

Piper
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Alan Barillaro

I honestly think this is the only film that can really win this award. This film is not that great, really. It is also, perhaps, the most clichéd of the animated films this year. A little sandpiper (the piper of the title) learns not to be so afraid of its world. That is really what there is to this little Pixar movie, but it is charming and doesn't ask for very much, and it went down very pleasantly with the mostly older audience with whom I saw the movies this year. Pixar wins this award a lot, but Barillaro has yet to win the award, so I guess it's his turn this year.
Will Win: Animated Short Film
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #4 out of 5

Pear Cider and Cigarettes
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Robert Valley
Cast: Valley

This one is really great, although I don't think the audience with whom I saw it liked it very much. At 35 minutes, it was over four times as long as any of the other short films, and, in fact, longer than all four of the other nominated shorts combined. In a way, this movie's length seems a little unfair compared to the others. Valley takes his time telling his story, and because of the length he's chosen, he really delves into his narrative in beautiful ways. This is an accomplished documentary. It is a story of a man and his affection and admiration for his friend – a man he doesn't understand very well but a man whom he loves. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I liked it much better than any of the other animated shorts this year (which are, as a whole, a rather weak bunch). Don't expect it to win, though. A win for this would be a real surprise. It's just altogether so much more serious than the usual winners in this category. I think when people see an animated short film what they really want is a little shot of charm and magic. I don't think anything other than that can really win.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Short Film
My Rating: #1 out of 5

Pearl
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Patrick Osborne
Cast: Nicki Bluhm, Kelley Stoltz

This is a 2D version of a virtual reality film initially designed for 360-viewing (as far as I know). The one that is nominated for the Oscar is a two-dimensional version that is part music video, part memory piece that I found engaging and lovely. If the film tells a perhaps familiar story, it does so in a way that I appreciated a great deal. This is a father-daughter story set in a car where the two live. The film takes first the father's point of view and then switches to the daughter's as she gets older. This change in perspective, which is gradual and so not striking or surprising, doesn't even feel gimmicky; instead, it feels as a kind of natural progression – as if the perspective we're actually following is the car's own perspective. Osborne has won this award before – for his film Feast only a couple years ago – so he doesn't need to win this, but if he did the Academy would be honoring some really new developments in animation.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #2 out of 5

Blind Vaysha
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Theodore Ushev
Cast: Caroline Dhavernas

Theodore Ushev's strange meditation on the way we look at things – the plot is about a girl who can only see the past in one of her eyes and can only see the future in the other eye – feels like a bit of a surprise nomination, but I am glad it was nominated. It's an odd movie, and it is animated in a kind of very old style that resembles medieval woodcuts. This makes for a visually intriguing film, and its interest in the past is perfect for the themes of the short, which are related to our own blindness to the present. The film addresses the viewer directly at the end of the film, and even asks viewers to close their eyes. I found all of this very interesting.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #3 out of 5

Borrowed Time
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Andrew Coats, Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Cast: Greg Dykstra, Nick Pitera, Steve Purcell

This was silly to me. It was the first film in the program, though, so maybe I needed to be warmed up or something...? Who knows. An old sheriff remembers his dad and tries to deal with the memories of a terrible accident that happened one day. But to my mind the film doesn't really go anywhere. This Pixar film has the usual Pixar uplift/cheese factor, but here that attempt at a feel-good turn that assures viewers that the world is actually a place of magic and wonder struck me as even more desperate than usual. I was not having this film.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #5 out of 5

Back to:
Part 1 - La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival
Part 2 - Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion
Part 3 - Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie
Part 4 - Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, Rogue One 
Part 5 - Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, A Man Called Ove
Part 6 - Captain Fantastic, Elle, Loving, Nocturnal Animals
Part 7 - The Lobster, 20th Century Women, Silence, Hail, Caesar!
Part 8 - Live-action Short Films