I went to a screening of all the Academy Award nominated short films over the weekend. It was a great showcase of different animation styles and storytelling. I think I’m going to have to start doing this every year. Here’s a rundown of the cool little films (none of which were more than 15 minutes) that I saw:
Dimanche / Sunday
Well, I actually didn’t like this first one very much. It was about a kid who has a routine every Sunday, and starts to daydream things to make it more interesting. But it had a very slow pace for a 10 minute film, and the intentionally sloppy hand drawn style grew tiresome to me after a while. It just kind of started and ended on dull notes. Only slightly amusing.
A Morning Stroll
I liked this one a lot. Very short, very simple absurdist concept, and very funny. It was about a similar encounter with a chicken walking down the street on three separate occasions, each occasion using a different animation style. I don’t think it has a chance of winning the award, but it’s really cool that it even got nominated. (it DID however, just win the Short Animated Film BAFTA Award last night…! So who knows?!)
This one was just awesome. All animated with what appears to be a hand painted style, it’s the story of an English slacker who moves to the Canadian wilderness with dreams of becoming a rancher. He doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but comically (at least at first) over exaggerates his situation to his parents via letters he writes back to England (which makes up the narration of the film). It’s funny, striking, and ultimately depressing. This was my favorite of all the short animated films I saw.
(I couldn’t find a working video of it, so a picture will have to suffice)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Awesome computer animated short about a character who, in the midst of writing a book, gets swept up in a storm (which featured a great action sequence), and lands in a colorful world where books can fly. But he is incapable of flying, as he has lost the words to the book he was writing in the storm. So he dedicates his life to helping others find books in this new land. This was probably the most well rounded of all the films. Very imaginative ideas and very clean and fluid animation. It definitely has a feeling of wonder, and best of all, kind of leaves you with a sweet feeling by the end. It’s the best propaganda for getting people to read books that I’ve seen in a long time.
You can actually see the ENTIRE film right here on Vimeo, check it out!
This was Pixar’s contribution to the showcase. Overall, it was decent. It’s probably best not to really spoil anything about the story. I think the best word to describe it is… cute. It’s very cute. It has a cool ending as well. It would have been nice to start with this one, as it felt less spectacular when it followed the book one.
I’d put my money on The Flying Books to win the award. It’s got spectacle, good animation, and a good message/story. I liked Wild Life a little better, but I think it might be too abstract to win. La Luna was a brief, cute concept, with pretty animation. A Morning Stroll is probably too “pop culturey” to win the Oscar, but it was pretty funny. Demanche better not win.
They were also kind enough to play some honorable mentions at the showcase:
This was a 5 minute faux public service announcement for damaging the ozone layer, and it was hilarious. 10x better than Demanche.
Interesting concept about old resources vs self sustainable ones, using racing robots in a desert as examples. It was OK.
I actually found this one kind of annoying. And it had a terrible ending. This was the only one I didn’t like more than Dimanche.
Action film about two guys having a conflict while driving on Australia’s longest open stretch of road. It didn’t have the greatest animation style in the world, but that didn’t take away from the fact that it was fun!