This year’s group of five Oscar nominees in the Best Animated Short Film category is the strongest I’ve ever seen, so coming-up with a clear frontrunner is not easy. Here are the Nominees:
“The Bigger Picture” (8 min., UK) – The style is groundbreaking, with a mix of life-size claymation figures and set pieces, as well as paintings. The story is heavy – two brothers taking care of their elderly, and eventually dying mother. Authentic to a tee, but rather depressing. B-
“The Dam Keeper” (18 min., USA) – This is my favorite of the group. Brought to life with more than 8,000 paintings, the story centers around a grade-school pig who has a very important job – taking care of the dam that protects the town. Pig is also bullied at school for being dirty. But that all changes when he’s befriended by a new student, Fox. With some raw and surprisingly powerful scenes, including a shockingly serious turn in the second half, this is daring and often brilliant. A-
“Feast” (6 min., USA) – It’s the most widely-seen of the group since Disney debuted it in theaters before “Big Hero 6”. This is about a dog named Winston who loves human food, and his owner who begins a human relationship that directly effects Winston’s eating habits. It’s a little simple, but charming, sweet and satisfying, though I would’ve chopped-out an unnecessary extended ending. B-
“Me and My Moulton” – (13 min., Canada & Norway) – A Moulton is a unique style bicycle. And even though it’s in the title. this isn’t exactly what the short focuses on. Rather, it’s about a middle-daughter of a quirky family, who’s living, what she believes, is an imperfect life. The animation is light and bright and there are some clever moments. But it’s the serious and surprisingly deep themes that stand out. B
“A Single Life” – (2 min., Netherlands) – All I will delve into about this CGI short is that a woman receives a record of a song called “A Single Life”. She begins to play it, and what happens next is rather unique and a little bizarre, but original, funny and quite memorable. B
And the four “Highly Commended” shorts shown are:
“Sweet Cocoon” – (6 min., France) – All-too-predictable story, low-level animation and a terrible ending. C-
“Footprints” – (4 min., USA) – Bill Plympton’s latest has a decent concept but a disappointing payoff. C
“Duet” – (4 min., USA) – Legendary Disney artist Bill Keane’s beautiful love story. B+
“Bus Story” – (11 min., Canada) – Solid tale of a quirky bus driver in a small town. C+
On The Official LCJ Report Card, the “2015 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation”, overall, gets a B. Seek it out at a nearby theater before Oscar Night on Sunday, February 22nd. And my prediction for which short film will win The Oscar will be announced, along with my picks in all the other categories, in mid-February.
Running Time: 75 min.