One of the best parts of film awards season is being able to see some of the nominees that didn’t get traditional theatrical releases. In particular, the films in the short film categories. Usually, short films are only seen during the film festival circuit or are released through means that don’t allow them to get lots of exposure. Through organizations such as Shorts International, we, the audience, are able to see these films for the first time and experience the artistry that got them the nomination in the first place. I had the pleasure of seeing this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Short Film in the Animation Category. I’ve been going to see the shorts for the past six years and every year I’ve enjoyed them. Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve given micro (or you could say “bit-sized”) reviews of each short, and this year’s line-up is one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory. Without further ado, here are my reviews for this year’s nominees for Best Short Film in Animation.
Sanjay’s Super Team
Since I didn’t see The Good Dinosaur while it was in theatres, I missed out on what might be my new favourite Disney/Pixar short. Sanjay is a young boy who just want’s to watch his Saturday morning cartoons while his father wants him to come pray at their Hindu shrine. What could have simply been a predictable battle of cultures instead becomes and exciting action-packed short that allows for a beautiful blending of generations. It’s wonderful to see this kind of religious and cultural diversity in animation and nice to see a short that’s not just ‘cute’, but rather thrilling.
World of Tomorrow
Don Hertzfeldt is a genius; I cannot stress that enough. If you’ve read my review of his film, It’s Such a Beautiful Day then you might have a certain expectation when you watch his short film World of Tomorrow. But what you experience over the course of 17 minutes is an outstanding satirical commentary on not only our need to make a legacy for ourselves but also the potential terrors of technological advancements. But it’s all done in that incredibly dark and hilarious wit that makes you want to watch it again and again. I’d tell you more, but that’d be taking away part of the joy of seeing it for yourself.
You’d think a story about anthropomorphic bears would be charming and fun. But instead, it’s a bittersweet tale of loss with an ambiguous ending that leaves you wondering what you just watched. A story about a bear who’s kidnapped and his fight to get back to his family, it needs a little bit more than the eleven minutes runtime to feel less rushed. It’s a bit predictable, but the animation and art-style are stunning. If only it was just a little bit longer.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
I was surprised by this animated short. The tale of two best friends who are training to become cosmonauts, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos doesn’t do anything to push the envelope regarding premise or animation. However, the complete package is charming and surprises the audience with little twists in the plot which keeps the short different enough that’s it isn’t another conventional piece about “the power of friendship.”
Prologue feels more like an experiment than an actual film. Animated as if it were a flipbook with incredibly detailed imagery, the short is masterfully animated. The problem with Prologue is the lack of a defined plot works against it, leaving the viewer unsatisfied at the end. Looks impressive, but lacks substance.
If I had to pick a winner I’d have to say World of Tomorrow, seriously it’s that good. But in general, this year’s nominees are all strong in their own way, which is more than I can say about some years where some of the films can be incredibly forgettable. Watch them all if you have the chance.