This year’s Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films all have something to say — a cause to champion or an issue to put front and center. It’s not the most feel-good collection, but you can find positives in all of them.
“Daughter” won the Student Academy Award in 2018. It’s a moving, stop-motion father-daughter story with a bird at its core. B
“Hair Love” is Sony Pictures Animation’s sweet story of a father who’s forced to his daughter’s hair for a very special day. When I saw it back in August (in front of “The Angry Birds Movie 2”), I knew it was destined to at least be a nominee. Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign, it’s now the frontrunner to win. B
“Kitbull” is a rare Pixar hand-drawn entry. The issue of animal abuse surrounds a relationship between a stray kitten and a pitbull. Not extraordinary, but the concept and execution are solid. B-
“Memorable” is the standout of this year’s contenders – both technically and in story. The heartbreaking effects of Alzheimer’s on an older married couple have been portrayed on screen many times, but never quite like this. A-
“Sister” is another stop-motion student film. This entry, from China, deals with the effects that country’s One Child Policy had one one young man. Another tough subject handled in a unique way. B
Four Highly Commended animated shorts are also part of the theatrical presentation:
“Henrietta Bulkowski” features the voices of Christina Hendricks, Chris Cooper and Ann Dowd. It’s an engaging fable with the best payoff of all of this year’s shorts. B
Like 2017’s groundbreaking feature, “Loving Vincent”, “The Bird & the Whale” was entirely hand-painted. The images are gorgeous, but this buddy tale is flat in the story department. C+
“Hors Piste” was one of the Top 10 Oscars finalists, and I’m not sure why. It’s a French comedy about two mountain rescuers and the skier they attempt. The set-up is promising, but he concept goes in bizarre and way too silly directions. And there are a few continuity errors. C
The 2-minute “Maestro” wraps-up the presentation and is basically a throw-away. We’ve seen the wild creatures singing opera before. It’s still not funny. C-
As always, the Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films are worth checking out in theaters before Oscar Sunday, February 9th. And if you’re tight on time, you can leave after “Henrietta Bulkowski” and still feel you got your money’s worth.
LCJ GRADE: B-
Running Time: 85 min.