Friday, February 6, 2015

A Reel Review: The Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

Each year, select theatres are given the opportunity to run the Oscar nominated live-action and animated shorts, giving film lovers a chance to take in some great cinema and to get an inside edge on their Oscar pools. This year’s selection of animated nominees are a great example of how special and pure an animated film can be. Animation makes any type of world, universe, or character possible…which breaks down any storytelling boundaries. Here are reviews for this year’s most-excellent animated nominees. 

A SINGLE LIFE – A young girl is able to travel through her life when playing a mysterious vinyl record. 
This hilarious little romp is done in colorful and vibrant CGI with an oddly designed character, who travels through time depending on where the needle on the record player is; move it back and she grows younger…move it forward and she gets older. It is lightning-quick and requires just enough thought to appreciate, and the ending will have you giggling all the way home. 

FEAST – One man’s love life is seen through the eyes of his dog; revealed bit-by-bit through the meals they share. 

This hand-drawn and computer-rendered Disney flick ran in front of BIG HERO 6 this year, and is an absolute delight to behold. The style brings back memories of Disney’s golden age of cartoons, while the storytelling, sans dialogue, is full of heart without getting the least bit sappy. The genius of it all lies in the telling; the story unfolds through the meals that the dog shares…which is likely how our canine friends generate memories here in the real world. Beyond brilliant. 

ME AND MY MOULTON – A seven year old girl and her sisters ask their architect parents if they could have a bicycle. 

Done in a 2D style in which the characters are a step away from stick-figures, this doesn’t have much plot and instead focuses on the emotions of the girl as she describes her frustrations with her over-disciplined parents…whose careers as efficient and conservative designers seep into the home-life. It’s funny and bright, but at the end may have you wondering what the point was. 

THE BIGGER PICTURE – Two brothers go through the ups and downs (mostly downs) of taking care of an elderly parent. 

This is probably one of the most visually stunning animated films ever made. By combining 2D painting and 3D stop motion, parts of the film (especially the characters) look like they are painted on the wall, while their appendages and surroundings seem to be right in front of you. The genius behind it all is that everything is done life-sized; there are no miniatures or models to be had here. The storytelling is a bit bizarre as the narrative goes all over the place, but the technique is so memorable you can’t help but to want to revisit it. 

THE DAM KEEPER – In a world populated with animals, a young pig tries to do his very important job, and meets a new classmate who changes his world. 

Looking like a pastel painting, this follows the adventures of a shy little pig who is charged with the upkeep of the dam which keeps the town safe; a job he finds difficult to do when he gets bullied at school. Things get better when he meets a new student (a fox), before the film takes a few twists and turns which would rival any good Greek tragedy. The film is a statement on bullying but also tells a very good story which is classic in nature and ultimately timeless…like one of those fairy tales told to children at night. 


The Oscars will be awarded February 22nd

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