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Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation
Me and My Moulton: B
Feast: A-
A Single Life: B+
The Bigger Picture: B
The Dam Keeper: B+

["Highly Commended"]
Sweet Cocoon: B-
Footprints: B
The Duet: B+
Bus Story: B

me and my moulton Me and My Moulton (Norway and Canada, 14 minutes) is the story of three girls, narrated by the middle one, growing up with pacifist/artist parents who are sweet but self-involved. The "Moulton" of the title is the type of bicycle they gift the children, even though the kids just want a regular bike like those of their friends. The animation bears a post-modern bent perhaps meant to reflect the architectural career of their father, simple at times but with occasional flourishes of invention (such as the way the trees are rendered with intersecting ovals of different shades of green). There's a sort of wistfulness and charm here, but nothing particularly memorable.

Feast (USA, 6 minutes) is the year's requisite Disney offering, though again (like last year's Get a Horse!) from Disney Animation Studios rather than Pixar. This one is so charming and sophisticated in its presentation, though, that it could easily be mistaken for Pixar; it follows the life of a family dog as told through the food its owner feeds him. First discovered as a puppy and lured with a French fry, then given plates of dog food and then lots of leftovers, followed by a bit of resentment by a girlfriend who introduces healthy eating. And then things shift gears when the humans break up, which the dog turns the tide on again through the use of food. This one is the biggest crowd pleaser of the bunch, and arguably the sweetest, probably giving it the edge for the Academy Award.

a single lifeA Single Life (Netherlands, 2 minutes) features perhaps the jiggliest boobs I've ever seen in an animated short. It was almost distracting, those two comically protruding chest-bumps that never really change as the young lady discovers a skipping record player actually skips her life forward -- or jumps back, depending on where she places the needle. This is the shortest offering among the nominees (or indeed the entire presentation of animated shorts) but ends with the biggest laugh.

the bigger picture The Bigger Picture (UK, 8 minutes) features the only truly unique animation style here: the characters are literally painted on the wall in a room. They also interact with props as well, though, meaning occasionally stop-motion model limbs will just out from the wall to, say, pick up a teacup. Things get pretty surreal at times here, as in the moment when one of the two brothers dealing with an ailing mother uses a vacuum cleaner to suck up everything in the room, including the wall art and even other characters. It's an odd tale to be sure, which matches the odd (if impressive) animation.

the dam keeperThe Dam Keeper (USA, 18 minutes) follows a young pig who maintains a windmill that keeps poisonous clouds at bay in a town where he gets ridiculed at school for being a pig. Beautifully rendered in watercolor paintings, the young pig finds a new friend in the fox that joins his school, defending him from bullies until a misunderstanding threatens their friendship. The story has more depth than it might seem at first look, and the score is perfectly matched to the imagery. If there's any other short with a real chance at winning the Oscar, it's probably this one.

sweet cocoon Sweet Cocoon (France, 6 minutes) is the first of four shorts used as padding for those of us who go to the theatre to see these, as otherwise the presentation would be all of 48 minutes; these combine to take it up to 73. And some of them, like this one, really do feel like filler: this story of a caterpillar getting help from a couple of bugs to fit inside a snug shell for an impending metamorphosis has lovely and crisp computer animation, but clunky editing and an adequate but forgettable story.

footprintsFootprints (USA, 4 minutes) is thankfully not about walking on the beach -- but rather, is the perennial Bill Plympton short that adds yet more filler in these annual presentations. It has the very familiar fluid sketch-style animation and an intriguing twist ending, but falls short of a lot of Plympton's superior earlier work.

the duet The Duet (USA, 4 minutes) is, frankly, more deserving of an Oscar nomination than at the very least, Me and My Moulton or The Dam Keeper, but maybe the Academy is trying to make more room for non-American shorts. Whatever. This is a story of young love developed from infancy to youth that has lovely rendering of white lines on a dark blue background, the boy and the girl engaged in a balletic dance as they grow up. It's the only one of the extras here that I would agree should be "Highly Commended" and presented alongside Oscar nominees.

bus storyBus Story (Canada, 11 minutes) serves as the most blatant example of filler here, both as part of the "Highly Commended" shorts and as something admittedly amusing but clearly not in any need of recognition from the Academy. It tells the tale of a bus driver and her occasional mishaps, with some cute humor but deliberately rudimentary animation.


Overall: B
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