In February, Sony Pictures Animation FINALLY won a Best Animated Feature Oscar for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. The studio has produced so many great films since 2006, from “Open Season”, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “Arthur Christmas” and “The Star” to the Academy Award nominated “Surf’s Up” and “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”.
However, “Spidey”’s win actually wasn’t the studio’s first gold statue. In 2003, less than a year after its founding, Sony Animation won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for “The ChubbChubbs!” It was largely produced and created by the Sony Pictures Imageworks team, and was released theatrically with “Men in Black II”. A few months after that win, SPA officially announced they were beginning production on feature films, including “Open Season”, “Surf’s Up” and “Cloudy”.
Now the studio may be getting ready for a third trophy on the mantle. “Hair Love” began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 from the film’s director, Matthew A. Cherry. He raised $300,000 to get the hand-drawn animated short made. In March, Sony Animation picked-up the distribution rights to the finished product, and they decided to have it play in front of their current release, “The Angry Birds Movie 2”.
I recently had the chance to screen “Hair Love”. It’s a sweet and moving short about an African American girl whose hair is being done by her dad for the first time. The girl wants it to look a certain way – for a certain reason, which isn’t revealed until the very end. Issa Rae (“Insecure”, “Little”) voices a key character.
There’s a purpose to everything in “Hair Love”, from the funny moments to the more emotional ones. It’s a brief journey, but an effective one, with undeniable audience appeal.
I’d be very surprised if Sony chose not to put “Hair Love” up for Best Animated Short Film Oscar consideration this year. With its story, and the buzz and star-power behind it, a nomination (at the very least) seems like a sure thing.
So if you’re planning on seeing “Angry Birds 2” sometime soon (which I highly recommend), make sure you get to the theater early enough to watch “Hair Love”. And hopefully your thoughts on it will live-up to its title.