I went to go see the short film Oscar nominees last year, and had a great time. I even made the correct choice of winner because I had the chance to see all of the nominees. The 2012 presentation of the shorts was kind of a slapped together presentation. Title cards were placed over a generic cloud background rather unceremoniously. But people still went to see them in theaters and it made more money than they had hoped for. So this year we got a brand new slick presentation, with fancier title cards, and commentary by last years winners on topics ranging from making their film to the creative process to the feeling of hearing their name get announced at the awards show. There were even trailers before the show this time. It was nice to break up the straightforward approach and not make it feel like an endless string of short films. So if it makes a lot of money again this year, I hope next year we can have 3D title cards. It’s the natural progression.
Anyway, here are the shorts:
“Maggie Simpson in: The Longest Daycare”
It was kind of a treat to see a Simpsons short film nominated here, even if the show hasn’t been great in about 15 seasons. It was a cute little story about Maggie trying to save a butterfly in a daycare center from the demented hands of her unibrowed nemesis, Baby Gerald (it was funny to see him again). It was only five minutes long, and had a fun pacing to it. It was entirely visual gags, so none of the current Simpsons writers had a chance to ruin it with terrible jokes. But it was really nothing more that cute. The animation was actually kind of bad at times. But still… it’s cute.
7 out of 10
“Adam and Dog”
A retelling of the Adam and Eve story, but told from the perspective of a dog living in Eden. It’s full of whimsy, but doesn’t really give us any more than that. At 16 minutes, it felt a tad too long, especially because it’s also slow-paced and pointless. It’s an interesting angle to take on the story, but what was I supposed to get out of it? This almost fell into the simply cute category as well (because of the dog), except that it hits some depressing notes here and there. So despite not really having a story; its hand-drawn animation is spectacular.
7.5 out of 10
At a quick 2 minutes, Fresh Guacamole flew by before I even had a chance to enjoy it. It literally has no story, it’s just stop-motion fun and editing tricks. It’s a very creative short of a guy making some guac out of unexpected items. I really don’t have much to say about it other than “cool…?”. To be honest, I’m kind of surprised it got nominated, but it’s a fun watch. That’s totally what I do when a chip breaks as well.
8 out of 10
Here’s the entire film:
“Head Over Heels”
A claymation tale of a long married couple living in a floating house, and they’ve grown apart from each other. So much so, that they live upside-down from each other. I found it to be a touching portrayal of a broken relationship. The visual gimmick keeps it entertaining, and the story keeps it emotional. It’s easily the most personal of all of the shorts. However, it goes on a little too long, and the character modeling is rather crude (ok, borderline terrible), but I found it very charming and full of rich symbolism.
8 out of 10
I’ve now seen Paperman twice (it screened before Wreck-It Ralph last year as well), and I have absolutely loved it both times. It has such a stunning animation style, blending traditional and computer animation in a way I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. I had to watch it in 3D last time, and I must say that I liked it more in 2D this time around. I got to appreciate the animation much more. It’s clever, funny, and heartwarming. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. It has a great music score. I wanted to give it less than a 10 right now, because certainly it’s not perfect, is it? But when I really think about it, I can’t find anything WRONG with Paperman…! Maybe at least in comparison to the competition, it seems like a masterpiece.
10 out of 10
Here’s the full film, watch it!
My Prediction: Paperman wins it, obviously.
Side note that I just realized: None of the five nominated shorts have a single word of spoken dialogue….! :O MIND BLOWN.
There were also some “Highly Commendable” shorts as well. They ranged from “Ehhhhh” to “I guess?”
Abiogenesis: A CGI nightmare of evolving machinery that lands on a planet and constantly adapts to generate life. It falls into the “things stoned college kids would think up at 3 AM” category. Teaser trailer here.
Dripped: A kind of poorly animated short about a burglar that steals paintings from museums, then he starts to eat them (?) and it gives him superpowers/mutations that relate to the painting. Neat concept, I guess… but not executed all that well. Plus, what was the point of it all? He turns into Jackson Pollack at the end? Okay? Sooooo…? Okay, whatever. Also, the version they screened has MAJOR interlacing/pixelation issues. Trailer here.
The Gruffalo’s Child: A very straightforward computer animated adaptation of the children’s book it’s based on; it has a 27 minute duration and makes no attempts to cater to an adult audience. I mean, it was a nice story for children, but I got very little value out of it as a 28-year-old man. The narration also felt jarring at times, coming out of nowhere in the middle of the story just to say “THE GRUFFALO SAID” just to they could rhyme the next dialogue with the word “said”. Ehhhh, it’s still cute or whatever. Trailer here.