Three of the categories during the Oscar program that most people know nothing about are the live action, animated, and documentary shorts. Usually those categories are just marked as wild guesses on Oscar party ballots, with people taking a stab at who will win based on the title. But not any more! More and more advancements are being made to get these shorts shown in theaters and online (iTunes), so you too can take a look at the amazing stories these talented filmmakers have created.
We here at VeryAware hope to clear up some of this gray area on your Oscar ballots by telling you a little about the nominees, who we think should win, and who we think will win. (Editors note: We will not be held responsible for you losing your Oscar pool.)
So let’s get started, shall we?
LA LUNA: (Enrico Casaroasa) Told in a very short 7 minute runtime, a young boy comes of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. You see, this night is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work in their old, small, wooden boat. Once they row far out to sea, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s extraordinary line of work. Charmingly fairy-tale like, it’s a sweet story, and audiences will be swept up in its magic. After being shut out of Best Animated Motion Picture, Pixar may have a lock on this category. 4.5/5
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE: (William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg) There’s a certain Pixar-like quality to this extremely poignant and visually effective tale. Award winning author/illustrator William Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation – utilizing a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation). One day, a WIZARD-OF-OZ-like storm transports Mr. Lessmore to a magical place where books come to life, as do the people who read them. Books fly and dance, and feel joy and sorrow. The flipbook way Humpty Dumpty animates is brilliant. It’s a powerful love letter to storytelling and magic of reading, and is similar to the feel of THE ARTIST, but with books. Books bring color to our lives, and it shows that the stories contained within those pages stay with you throughout your life – only to be discovered by a new generation. Inventive, original, sentimental, and meaningful, this would be my pick to win the coveted award. 5/5
A MORNING STROLL: (Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe) This short attempts to answer the question “why did the chicken knock on the apartment door?” You know, that age-old riddle. It’s 1959 – rendered in black-and-white with simple lines – and amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city, a guy catches a chicken walking down the street, knocking on a door, and being let into an apartment. Flash forward to 2009, and the same thing – only the animation has changed to a flat shaded style, and the guy is too busy with his smartphone to care about the chicken. Flash forward again to 2059, where fully-textured and shaded zombies rule the Earth and prefer eating chicken over brains. I really don’t understand the point of this short beyond showcasing different animation styles. Not interesting enough to be captivating and seems like a student art project. 2.5/5
SUNDAY/ DIMACHE: (Patrick Doyon) Every Sunday is just like the last as a boy is ripped away from playing in the yard to go to church and visit his grandparents. It’s a slice of life in a small town. Animation is done in a Klasky Csupo design style. Sparse dialogue peppers the earth toned palette. Told from the boy’s perspective, he finds some distractions in imagining more life in the mundane (particularly dead animals), but overall not much happens, so it’s a bit of a head scratcher why the filmmakers chose to tell this tale. 2.5/5
WILD LIFE: (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby) It’s 1909 and a young British guy sets out for the wilds of Alberta, Canada seeking adventure but – after a year – only finds desolation. Animated in painterly style similar to Ridley and Tony’s Scott Free logo. It interweaves animated interviews with the townsfolk and his hopeful letters to home as the story unfolds. There are some title cards that pop up occasionally that compare our protagonist’s fate to that of a comet. It’s beautiful to look at, and more of a narrative than some others in this category, but the story isn’t that compelling. It’s a hard-knock life for that guy in a story that’s all hat and no cattle. 3/5
Should Win: THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE
Will Win: THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE
The 2012 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts open in the US and Canada on February 10 (catch it in Los Angeles at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in West LA and South Coast Village Theatre in Santa Ana/Costa Mesa.) The nominated short films will also be available on iTunes Stores in 54 countries across the globe beginning February 21st.