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Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation
Sanjay's Super Team: A-
World of Tomorrow: B+
Bear Story: B
We Can't Live Without Cosmos: B
Prologue: B+

["Highly Commended"]
If I Was God: B
The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse: B
The Loneliest Stoplight: B-
Catch It: B

SANJAYS_SUPER_TEAM Sanjay's Super Team (USA, 7 minutes) is the likely winner of this year's Animated Shorts Oscar, in large part because it played before The Good Dinosaur and therefore likely gained the most viewers by default. It also happens to be the best of the bunch. Given Pixar's track record, this is hardly a surprise, and by now it's easy to think other animators should be given the prize. Certainly there are super-talented animators who don't work at Pixar. But this story of a Hindu father and his Westernized, superhero-obsessed son who uses his imagination to meld Hindu gods and superheroes is both emotionally affecting and spectacularly animated.

WORLD_OF_TOMORROW World of Tomorrow (USA, 17 minutes) is the longest of the shorts here, and certainly fascinating in its own right: a little girl's cloned self, with her downloaded consciousness, visits her from the future. There's a fascinating aspect to the animation, in that the characters are basically stick figures, but they find themselves in these incredibly colorful and detailed environments, as the future-self attempts to explains things to the little girl. The girl provides some levity by being a simple little girl who doesn't really understand the grand concepts being presented to her, and instead wants to play with color or share her toy cars. It's a surprising feast for the eyes, and it's also cute.

BEAR_STORY Bear Story (Chile, 11 minutes), which tells the story of an old and lonely bear's life through his self-made mechanical dioramas, is impressively animated, with great attention to detail and color. I can't expound much more on this one because, okay I'll just admit it, I fell asleep. That doesn't count as a judgment on the short. I still saw about half of it! And what I saw may not have been excessively compelling, but it was lovely.

We Can't Live Without Cosmos We Can't Live Without Cosmos (Russia, 16 minutes) is a fascinating piece in that it's a Russian story of super-close male friends who, you know, aren't gay. There's no gay panic in the narrative or anything; it's just interesting to see such touching closeness between grown men (who at one point even share a bed) in a story that comes out of Russia. It's ultimately a sad story, because these buddies, who have been obsessed with the space program since childhood and wind up being the two most qualified to man the rocket. But one of them meets a tragic end and the other goes nuts, and while the ultimate point of the story remains somewhat elusive, it's a unique treatise on close friendship.

If I Was God If I Was God (USA, 8 minutes) is the first of four "Highly Commended" shorts used to fill out the run time of the Animated program, because animated shorts tend to be particularly short, and you know, we want to get our money's worth if we're actually going to the theatre to watch these things. Except particularly in this year's case, it's easy to see why these extra ones did not secure nominations -- none of them are quite as good. Most aren't all that bad either, though, including this one about a boy's experience in middle school getting dangerously distracted while dissecting a frog. I was a little stuck on how the teacher just slapped dead frogs directly no the students' desks, though. That seemed a little weird.

the short story of a fox and a mouse The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse (France, 7 minutes) might have been graded lower if not for its beautiful computer animation. The story of a fox that hunts but ultimately befriends a mouse kind of sits outside the world of common sense, but at least it's wonderful to look at.

The Loneliest Stoplight The Loneliest Stoplight (USA, 6 minutes) is the requisite Bill Plimpton short -- the guy has been nominated for Oscars twice; won in 2005 for Guard Dog; and has been included in the "Highly Commended" section of these presentations more often than not. We'll have to relegate The Loneliest Stoplight to his lesser works, however, in spite of securing Patton Oswald as the narrating voice of the stoplight. This short is moderately amusing but misses much of Plimpton's trademark odd wit.

Catch It Catch It (France, 5 minutes) tells the story of a group of meerkats chasing a vulture that attempts to steal their fruit. That's about it, really: just a silly cartoon involving a silly chase. It's fun for what it is.

In a rare move, the last of the films actually nominated is presented at the very end this year, even after the "Highly Commended" section. This is because Prologue (UK, 6 minutes) is deemed to contain "graphic violence" (which it does) and "graphic nudity" (um . . . okay so there are penises), and this way the children people are no doubt going to bring to this presentation of shorts can leave early without missing anything else. This entire film, which depicts a battle between Spartan and Athenian warriors, is animated with pencil drawings -- and the animation is amazing. That alone may get it some Academy votes, but the story is lacking. As in, there isn't much of one, except maybe to say that this is where we trace our violence back to? Also did people in this time actually fight wars completely nude, except for their shields and weapons? That doesn't seem very practical. Here, we only witness four warriors: two clothed; two nude. I guess you could call them "shirts and skins." And they pretty much just hack each other up in a field, after the film opens on a bee buzzing in some lovely flowers. It's hard to pin down how one feels about a short film like this. Fantastically animated, weirdly brutal.


Overall [nominees only]: B+
Overall [full shorts program]: B
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