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

22 February 2018

Oscar Nominations 2018: Part 9 of 12 (Animated Short Films)

Back to Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, or Part 8.

Lou
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Dave Mullins

This is cute, but doesn't really make very much sense. The gist is basically that a magical force (which the film calls Lou) collects lost things from a playground and puts them all in a lost and found box so that when the kids come back to play during a break from classes, all the toys are there. This same force teaches a bully–thief a lesson. This had one or two good jokes, and I liked those, but mostly this is sentimental and too buys teaching lessons for me to care. And I still don't really understand the physic of the film's world. It moves along with a kind of logic for a while, but then it abandons that same logic by its end. This is fine, but most of the other films are so much better. This one, however, is a Pixar film, so it will probably win.
Will Win: Live-action Short Film
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #4 out of 5

Negative Space
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Ru KuwahataMax Porter
Cast: Albert Birney

Negative Space is a beautiful film. The stop-motion animation is extremely clever, moving back and forth between interiors and dreamworlds with imaginative ease. The film's story is very simple – a quiet, poetic remembrance of a man's father – through packing suitcases, but it moves toward a beautiful emotional ending that I found just lovely. (Incidentally, I read somewhere else that someone thought the ending moment was a laugh-line or a joke. I certainly didn't think so.) Packing a travel bag is a way of deciding what is important and making sure everything fits inside. This is a film about wasting space (and time), about filling our suitcases with as many items as possible, and filling our lives with time spent with loved ones.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #3 out of 5

Dear Basketball
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Director: Glen Keane
Cast: Kobe Bryant

This was the first film on the program, and I was not ready for it to affect me so emotionally, but it sure did. Dear Basketball is a sweet film about Kobe Bryant. He writes a love letter to basketball, thanking it for what it did for his life as a very small boy, and saying goodbye to it because his body can no longer handle the physical strain of continuing to play the sport. I found this deeply emotional, and I don't really like basketball all that much at all and really know nothing about Kobe Bryant's career except that he's been with the Lakers a long time. But this movie paints a portrait of basketball as something that can lift a life out of unhappiness and give it purpose. The film moves back and forth between an adult Bryant a little boy Kobe, who is shooting basketballs made of rolled-up socks into wastepaper baskets. It's short and beautiful and profound, and I loved it.

Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #2 out of 5

Revolting Rhymes: Part One
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film
Cast: Dominic West, Tamsin Greig, Rose Leslie, Gemma Chan, Rob Brydon, Bertie Carvel, David Walliams

This is a reimagining of a set of three fairy tales – Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs – that is narrated by a wolf, played by Dominic West (whom I love, obviously). This is also the most substantial of the five films; it's much longer than the others and there are a good deal more actors in this one, so it feels more accomplished. But I must confess I found myself bored. These kinds of reimaginings of fairy tales seem tired to me. Wolves are good guys, pigs are thieves, girls turn out to be lesbians. Fine. But this does not strike me as surprising or imaginative. These are clever twists rather than interesting storytelling. Still, the fact that this is my least favorite of the five indicates that these five are quite good.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #5 out of 5

Garden Party
1 Nomination
  • Animated Short Film

This film is my favorite. It is a dark, dark comedy about frogs throwing a party (perhaps unwittingly?) in the mansion of what looked to me like some kind of Floridian mob boss or drug dealer. The animation is gorgeous, the jokes are hilarious, but even better, this is a little film about the animal and vegetable kingdoms taking over after something has happened to mankind. I appreciated its unsentimental qualities. I laughed out loud at the jokes. I loved it.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 5