Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Reel Review: The 2011 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

As it is nearly every year, this year’s Oscar Nominees for Best Animated Short showcases all sorts of visual styles; ranging from modern CG to watercolor to sketching. They have many things in common; the animation styles match the tone and atmosphere of each story, and four out of the five have no dialogue. The funny thing is the one film that does have dialogue is the weakest of the bunch.

The Nominees are:


Seen through the eyes of a bored little boy as he goes through same old boring routine on a Sunday; Going to church and visiting relatives.

The animation style here is a simple and drab sketch-style on white paper. It matches the atmosphere of the simplistic mind of a child perfectly. So well done you can’t help but to be reminded of what it was like to be a kid surrounded by boring adults.


Mr. Lessmore is whisked away by a hurricane to a place where his books are alive, and he must be their caretaker.

Inspired by Buster Keaton and THE WIZARD OF OZ, this is a charming little tale about the healing powers of books. It is loaded with allegory, and that is its genius; it is a story all about books, but nothing in it can be taken literally. LESSMORE is magnificently scored and the CG animation is eye-popping. By far, this is the one with the most potential for a feature-length film.


A coming-of-age fable of a young boy whose Papa and Grandpa take him to work for the very first time. The job: taking care of the Moon.

LA LUNA feels like it fell right from the pages of THE LITTLE PRINCE, as the influence is clear and it brings a warm, familiar feeling to the tale. It is magical, it is fun, and it is a joy to look at and experience. LA LUNA will be attached to Pixar’s BRAVE later this year, and it will be worth the wait to see on the big screen; it just may be the best Pixar short ever.


A whimsical little number in which a New Yorker meets a chicken on his morning walk, in three different millenniums.

A MORNING STROLL takes place over three-hundred years, with the same routine repeating itself once every millennium. The animation style changes for every occurrence, and each style (stick-figure sketch, Max Headroom-animation, and modern CG) fits each era. STROLL mixes comedy and horror into one neat little bundle, and is the most fun of the bunch while adding a little social commentary.


The story of an Englishman who moves to the wilds of Calgary in 1909 looking to prove his adulthood, but finds himself unsuited for it.

WILD LIFE is a beautiful watercolor-style painting brought to life, which gets bogged down by some awkward storytelling techniques. Intercut by the Englishman’s philosophical musings and interviews with the townsfolk, WILD LIFE never hits a groove and just feels weird. Bookended by real black-and-white photographs, it feels like the director was making a family-tribute film; leaving the audience feeling left out.

The Oscars will be awarded February 26th.

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