' ' Cinema Romantico: Oscar Nominees: Best Animated Short

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oscar Nominees: Best Animated Short

The Oscar race for Best Animated Short actually got its start all the way back at the beginning of November when Disney’s “Feast” was attached to showings of “Big Hero 6.” Whether or not this makes it the front-runner, I haven’t the foggiest, but it’s a joy in and of itself. It details a human relationship but shows it entirely through the point-of-view of a dog, and that dog’s relationship to the food he is fed by the humans is integral. It made me think of last July when I was tasked with going over to a friend’s to feed their dog while they were out of town and how an almost instantaneous bond was formed between the canine and I. I kept imagining her thinking: “Oh. Hey. This is the guy that feeds me now.”

“Me and My Moulton”, directed by Torill Kove, possesses a fairly conventional if decidedly affectionate narrative, a recounting of its auteur’s childhood, that just as easily could have been rendered live action. And yet, the animation gives it the proper presentation of an adult looking back on her past as if through the lens of a storybook. It works.

“The Bigger Picture” works too, and while I am nothing near an animation expert, it seems quite evident that this film contains the most audacious visuals and production tactics of the nominees. Director Daisy Jacobs actually painted the characters onto a wall and then had them interact with real life and paper mache props. It’s pretty amazing to witness as well as to consider what might have gone into crafting every shot and maneuver. Its story concerns, uh, a couple brothers caring for their elderly mother. Maybe that’s on me, but the story itself didn’t land as much as the techniques to convey it.

“The Dam Runner” takes a familiar fable-esque tale of bullying and acceptance and tells it with an assortment of animals, primarily a pig who lives in a windmill and is tasked with keeping the town free of forever looming poisonous clouds. The pig clomps to school and is picked on, ridiculed, bullied, the works, and it stings. It stings because “The Dam Keeper” has no intention to downplay the meanness. One incredible shot as our pig hero flees finds the taunting animals surrounding him turn into flashes of monsters, like that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Marion keeps finding herself face to face with horror movie skulls. It’s TERRIFYING. And every shot is coated in a kind of haze, as if suggesting the lingering effect of those clouds, which requisitely factor into the conclusion, a conclusion that does not betray the film’s entire tone. I liked it a lot.

I admit, however, that my heart is squarely with “A Single Life”, the shortest-running nominee at barely three minutes which is like a lightning strike of joy which then clears the smoke from the strike to reveal the damage rendered. Made by Joris Oprins, his film takes the words of “Before Sunset’s” Jesse to heart and essentially shows an entire life in the space of a pop song. A woman, Pia, receives a record in the mail, puts it on, and realizes that by stopping and starting and scratching it, she jumps around in time, past, present and future. It takes her through, well, you know, A Single Life, and then……poof! The last shot left me sitting in my chair, flabbergasted and laughing, but laughing mostly from existential panic. Like, imagine if “Boyhood” was “Life” and happened in 180 seconds. (*Nick runs away and never comes back.*)

1 comment:

Candice Frederick said...

I really liked The Dam Keeper.