As a first-timer watching all of the Oscar nominated short films at once I have to say I was more than delighted. The format by ShortsHD was brilliant and the addition of several other short films was quite nice. However, in this review I will only be talking about the Oscar nominated shorts.
The wide range of topics and animation types in this collection of short films is truly remarkable and enjoyable. And even though words are only employed in one film, each of the animated films hold a unique and thoughtful story. The first animated short, Bear Story by Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala, is a great example of this. Bear Story is the tale of a lonesome bear that builds a mechanical diorama of his life; more specifically, about how he was separated from his family and sent to a circus. The presentation of this short is quite new and unique to me, not to mention greatly creative and entertaining. It is just remarkable how such a basic idea can create such an emotional story. (4.5/5)
There is also a certain uniqueness to the next short, Prologue by Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton. While it is not as sweet or comforting as some of the other shorts, Prologue is composed of beautiful hand-drawn scenes that takes us back to remembering and appreciating how animation started. Aside from this, the films lacks a story. After seeing a collection of brilliantly drawn, but gruesome scenes filled with four warriors mercilessly killing each other, there came the finishing blow in a very important part of men’s anatomy. I ask myself, was this truly necessary? (3/5)
The lack of story in Prologue became even more evident when compared with other shorts such as Sanjay’s Super Team by Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle. Beautifully animated and full of vibrant colors, it is not just a film, but a story that resonates with the personal life experiences of many. Sanjay’s Super Team depicts the very common issue for immigrant families, clashing of cultures, in the most brilliant manner. While this is more specifically about Indian-American culture, children of immigrants will be able to relate to little Sanjay, a boy that is happily entertained by the new environment that surrounds him, and Sanjay’s dad, a parent concerned with keeping his culture alive in a foreign place. The result is a film that not only assimilates the clashing of cultures in this country, but that can also be enjoyed and understood by both, parents and children. (5/5)
Up next comes We Can’t Live Without Cosmos by Konstantin Bronzit, a very simplistic animated short, that narrates the tale of two childhood friends that grew up together with one dream in common: space travel. However, the story becomes more than just the pursue of a dream when halfway through the short, one of them gets to accomplish their dream first, but disappears in space in the process. The meaning of true friendship then takes over the story and the film finishes with an ending that is very open for interpretation. (4/5)
Even though none of the short films use words, World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt, with minimalist characters and what seems simplistic animation, becomes a brilliant, witty and entertaining short by making great use of every single sentence. World of Tomorrow is a story about an adult clone that transports her younger clone into her world, in order to show her what their future holds. Yes, the conversation can be indeed quite draining and complicated, if it wasn’t for the younger clone’s innocent and playful comments which include the words “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.” Let us leave aside the fact that the voices and animation make this whole short extremely cute, or that the animation is just extremely different from what we usually see at the Oscars; the thought and imagination that went into this story and screenplay is simply superb. (4.5/5)
It was quite refreshing to see so many different types of animations, taking over such a wide range of topics. While it is certainly a tough decision to make, I am leaning towards either Sanjay’s Super Team or World of Tomorrow getting that Academy Award. Decisions, decisions…