By the looks of the nominees in the category of Best Animated Short Film, it has been a tremendous year for animation. Unlike last year where there were more misses than hits, this year’s crop makes it clear that everyone’s upped their game. Audiences should have a difficult time choosing which short they love the best, so it could prove difficult to figure out what to mark on your Oscar ballots come Academy Awards night. We here at VeryAware hope to help with that and tell you our picks for that coveted golden statuette.
So let’s get started, shall we?
FRESH GUACAMOLE (Directed by Pes): Search YouTube and you’ll find many tutorials on how to make delicious and fresh guacamole. But chances are, you’ve never seen anything quite like this! Director Pes deconstructs ingredients and equates them to household toys for animated purposes. What’s cooked up is an incredibly clever, cute and – best of all – concise product. Now pass the (poker) chips and dig in! 4/5
ADAM AND DOG (Directed by Minkyu Lee): Similar in look and feel to a Miyazaki film with elements of artist Eyvind Earle mixed in, director Minkyu Lee’s exploration of nature told through a canine protagonist’s eyes is unique and sweet. Spotlighting the relationship between a man and his dog and relying on visuals with nary a speck of dialogue, the parable of the creation of Earth is a beautifully rendered tribute to hand drawn animation. With Disney animation pioneer Glen Keane (TARZAN) as a consultant on the project, this piece has a lot going for it. 4.5/5
PAPERMAN (Directed by John Kahrs): Everyone can remember their first love, but what about those short, sweet moments shared with a stranger? Have you ever felt the universe pushing you to connect with someone you don’t know? Then director John Kahrs’ breathtaking story is for all you closet romantics and lovers of animation. This transcendent six minute short debuted with Disney’s WRECK-IT RALPH – which also had emotional through-lines of challenging the establishment and going against the grain. PAPERMAN made my heart swell and made me tear up within minutes. A combo of hand drawn and CG animation, it’s a soul-stirring, powerful work of genius. This is by far and away my favorite of the bunch. 5/5
HEAD OVER HEELS (Directed by Timothy Rechkart): Ever feel out of sync with your spouse? Then this ten minute tale will resonate with you. Years of marriage have taken a toll of Walter and Madge – so much so that he lives on the floor and she on the ceiling. When Walter attempts to re-ignite the long lost fire, their delicate balance becomes off-center. The two must find a way to stick together. Stop motion clay animation with no dialogue (just a dew grunts and gasps here and there) is an interesting and nostalgic way to deliver the message and elevates the narrative. It’s a sweet reminder not to take your partner for granted; however, much like the protagonist’s stalling marriage, this fails to set my world on fire. 4/5
MAGGIE SIMPSON IN THE LONGEST DAYCARE (Directed by David Silverman): This short debuted with ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT and showcases THE SIMPSONS’ trademark wit and style in spades. Maggie is dropped off at the Ayn Rand School for Tots. Whilst at day care, our pint-sized heroine experiences hilarious horrors and hijinks all while trying to help free a butterfly. It’s cute and funny but compared with the emotional wallop of others in this same field, it might prove difficult to win this year. 4.5/5
Should win: PAPERMAN
Will Win: PAPERMAN
The 2013 Oscar Nominated Shorts Program opens theatrically on February 1 and on iTunes on February 19. Also added to the program are three extra animated shorts (DRIPPED, ABIOGENESIS, THE GRUFFALO’S CHILD). For more information on where you can find these shorts playing, go here.