I have always enjoyed seeing the Academy Award Nominated Short Films. For many of you who do not realize, the academy puts all 5 animated shorts, live action shorts, and documentary shorts together as one collection and plays them as a single showing in Theaters across the country leading up the Oscars. I always find them at my local Landmark Theater.
I unfortunately did not see any of the collections last year so I was surprised this year to find that the producers of the animated shorts collection took it a step farther than they had since the previous time I watched the collection in 2012 and added funny and cute animated segue scenes to lead in and out of the shorts. This year it consisted simply of a Giraffe and a Duck who are “stand ins” on a Hollywood set, bantering about who they know in the biz, what they have worked on and some old jokes they’ve learned over the years from working in Hollywood. It was a nice addition to years past where they just went from one short to the next. Entertaining for sure, but that is not why myself and the rest of the people in the packed theater went to the show last Saturday afternoon. We went to enjoy the Academy nominated animation short films of the year. Five short films coming from 4 different countries; USA, France, Japan and the UK and in honor of those here are my short, reviews of the best shorts in animation:
Get a Horse – 6 Minutes, USA
Presented by Disney with an old and new flare, Get a Horse is most impressive in its animation seamlessly blending the old school hand drawn cartoons of Disney classics with the very best its animation studios has today as Mickey, Minnie and friends take a ride on a musical wagon while trying to escape the evil Peg-Leg Pete.
Medium Popcorn with Butter.
Drawn with what seemed to me some form of a digital pencil, Ferel is a fish out of water story. Sketched and shaded, it is about a boy raised by wolves in the wild who is found and brought to civilization. He is shown struggling with his new environment and often resorting back to his old ways to protect himself and survive. I thought the animation was interesting because it is not something most people are doing these days so in that sense; it’s new in a way? The story although sad didn’t connect the way I thought animated shorts have done in the past.
Mr. Hubbolt – 11 Minutes, France
Although produced by France’s ZEILT Productions, Mr. Hubbolt has the dream works style animation that is expected when you go and see this collection. So impressive at times it made me think that they used real video backgrounds, although, they didn’t. It further made me consider how when we go to movies these days, especial big budget blockbusters they are so perfectly mimicking reality with the CGI and animation sequences that many more movies could be considered animated than actually are. Hubbolt had the best story and the most engaging characters of the years shorts. In a future robot-esque world, Mr. Hubbolt is an OCD type of robot with an ever-growing robot dog whose wild movements and size do not help with the tidiness of the house. Mr. hubbolt has the choice to keep his old habits and lose his friend or grow.
Possessions – 14 Minutes, Japan
Possessions reminded me of a Japanese comic book in its animation. The hero Otoko was a big burly and chizzled Samurai warrior with stiff movements. He encounters a room where he is meant to go to and perform some sort of meditation, in the room he dreams he encounters a series of surreal obstacles that he must overcome. I believe the story pulls from an old Japanese folklore.
Room on the Broom – 25 Minutes. UK.
Along with the Disney story above, this will be the most popular for the academy audience. Produced by the same British Company as the popular short The Gruffalo, it has a star studded voice cast and a complete simple story which is easy to grasp and enjoy. Simon Peg narrates the short which follows a Witch and her cat as they fly around on her broom which always has just a enough room for more and more friends as the story goes along. It is Dr. Seuss like in its rhyming and all around enjoyable.