I was fortunate enough to get to watch all five of these nominees at once at a local movie theater that was running a special feature. Naturally, the theater is kind of artsy, often featuring critically acclaimed indie films and other award winners. This kind of place attracts a certain audience, *cough* hipsters *cough*, which impacts the viewing experience, favoring the weird and quirky. Now, I only mention all of this because the audience had a really weird vibe watching all of these and laughed in some really dark places. Animated shorts shouldn’t be so grim. Remember Pixar’s chess guy before Toy Story? That’s what I want.
Bear Story: This Chilean animated short was beautifully made. The detail work and style choice of following most of the story through the Bear’s mechanical diorama was very clever. It is rich in allegory and is certainly heartfelt in a meaningful way. During their Oscar acceptance speech, the creators alluded to the story as an allegory for political prisoners being detained by oppressive regimes, which I didn’t fully get, but it still did a nice job relaying the story with sound and creative animation. Blorg! and Academy Pick: Best Animated Short Film
Uh, what??? Why can’t animated films be happy? I feel like they are supposed to. And this is the opposite. It is bad. Horrible. Don’t watch it. The first 40 seconds are nice because the sketch style opening on the flowers against the white background was very nice. But the rest of it was just disturbing and gross. A bunch of naked dudes stabbed each other in the junk in front of a little kid. It was just awful. I don’t understand why people think that’s a good idea. Gross and disturbing. Don’t watch it. Ew.
Sanjay’s Super Team: The only nominee that is actually uplifting. But it’s a Pixar product so don’t be surprised. A cute story about a boy whose imagination blends his favorite superhero TV show with his father’s Hindu prayer in a way that brings the two together. Of course you should watch it. It was also one of only two nominees that I actually liked. My runner-up pick.
We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos: I almost liked this one. This wordless Russian short film is the story of two astronauts (either brothers or childhood friends that may or may not love one another) going through training. The bond between the two is well-developed and both the happy and sad moments really do tell a complete story. The ending just didn’t really make sense. I was not sure how to interpret it, and I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a happy or sad ending. It was good, but not worthy of winning.
World of Tomorrow:
Also horrible. It’s on Netflix, so go ahead. Watch it. I saw all of these short films in a theater at once, so it was relatively easy to compare them all. This one had all of the artsy hipsters in the theater laughing, which kind of upset me. I don’t think it’s supposed to be funny. A shocking and, at times, disturbing presentation of the future, this short film relied upon expository dialogue and a weird stick-figure based, twitchy animation style. It had some interesting commentary on cloning, but the weirdness of the main narrator and blasé comments about death, destruction, and the cruelty of the events described made for an aggressively pessimistic film. I did not like it and was disturbed by the use of a child to portray so much of this morbid ambivalence.
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