Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Reel Review: The Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

Each year, the Oscar-nominated Short Films are released into theatres as a showcase for the art of the short film; a very refined genre of filmmaking which always has a strong focus on storytelling and characters…a focus that is often lost on feature films with too much time and money to work with. Short films can arguably be the most pure form of the cinematic arts, and the annual release allows us to catch these very-well done films on the big screen where they rightfully belong.

The most glorious aspect of the world of animated film is that it is never restricted to one style. With so many methods of creating animated moving pictures; CGI, hand-drawn, sketching…the sky is always the limit and this year’s group of most-excellent nominees is a true example of how wonderful the art can be.

The nominees are…

PROLOGUE – Done in a black-and-white pencil-drawn style which takes place in a person’s sketchbook, the story involves a bloody sword-and-sandal war.

This is one of the first, if not the first animated selection to run with a disclaimer warning of the graphic nature. Taking place during the Spartan-Athenian wars, naked men with their naughty-bits swaying about stab and spear each other to a bloody end. There’s no real story, but the real shock is the reveal which has a young girl witnessing it all. It’s a evidently a prologue for the young girl’s life, and the one single shot gives the film a deeper meaning which isn’t seen coming.

WORLD OF TOMORROW – A young girl takes a trip through time, guided by her future offspring.

This is a mind-bender in which a girl is given a look at a grim future, even though she’s way too young to understand any of it. It’s a beautiful film to look at, especially considering that it’s presented by way of stick-figures in front of simple bold color backgrounds. The many high-concepts are thrown at us at warp speed, and the true genius of it all is that despite the grim future the film predicts, once we’re back in the present with a carefree child who just wants to play…all is right with the world.

SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM – In this annual nominee from Pixar, a young Eastern Indian boy and his father clash over tradition.

This short played in front of Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR in 2015 and is the most recognized of this year’s nominees. A true gem which looks at a child’s fascination with Western pop-culture (specifically, superheroes), which clashes with his father’s old-school traditions. Done with no dialogue, it’s an interesting and fun look at generational gaps, along with offering the question of who our heroes really should be.

BEAR STORY – In a world populated by walking and talking bears, a lonely bear tells his tragic life-story through his mechanical puppet-box.

A magnificent little film which mostly takes place inside the main character’s mechanical diorama-box. The CGI here is beautiful and the design is jaw-dropping, and the feelings of family and love are always up-front.

WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT COSMOS – Two cosmonauts who are close friends train for an important mission.

A simple, hand-drawn style with no dialogue which looks at two best friends and how one of them copes with loss. It’s a very funny film which has a dramatic shift in tone when tragedy occurs, and in a blink goes from a comedy to a tear-jerker.


Review for the Live Action Short Film nominees HERE

The Oscars will be awarded February 28th.

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