One thing I most definitely praise the Academy as well as the sponsors who help bring this showcase to being (DirecTV, AT&T and Shorts HD) is that they are bringing the Oscar nominated shorts to a wider audience, whereas before you were in the dark and few, if any of these shorts, had any life beyond the ceremonies. Not to mention the fact that they’re now being sold on iTunes too.
The animated slate screened first this year, and it’s an even stronger field than last year. Especially when you consider that none of the nominated films has any significant dialogue. One merely had a news broadcast on TV, which is of no consequence.
This could well be the most creative of the nominees, but while there is abundant cleverness in the replacement of literal props with representative artifacts, its brevity and simplicity may be to its detriment considering the other nominees.
Adam and Dog
This is a very well-drawn and interesting depiction of the first dog and the first man, which is very poignant.
Head Over Heels
Is perhaps the most moving of the selections. As opposed to a short like Reverso, which I featured on a short film Saturday, here you get a very literal metaphor for the unusual upside-downness of the world.
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Here you have a nomination that hearkens back to yesteryear inasmuch as it is a notable lead from a popular stable of characters in this short tale. As you might expect from Matt Groening there is a lot of intelligence and humor in this short, but also a very cinematic sensibility.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is also nominated for this charming little short that they had play prior to the start of Wreck-It Ralph. It’s another coup for the studio pushing the company brand to greater heights. I likely have little pet peeves about each of these shorts, this one is the largest though.
Highly Commended Selections
To fill out the program there is usually a selection of Highly Commended shorts. This year’s crop isn’t as strong overall if memory serves.
The Gruffalo’s Child
I didn’t really care for the original, and like this one less so. As beautiful as the animation is, and as much as I appreciate the technique, the storytelling is too basic and stilted in its storybook predictability.
It’s a creative idea that doesn’t feel quite as fully developed as the others.
Of the three selections, this is by far the best and presents the double-edged sword of including Highly Commended films because I honestly don’t understand how this film wasn’t nominated. It’s sheer brilliance.