Search Film Reviews

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The 2015 Academy Award-Nominated Animated Shorts Review

"A Single Life" by Job, Joris, and Marieke
Courtesy of ShortsHD

By Joshua Handler

The Oscar-nominated animated shorts is a mixed bag, but two stand out: "Feast" and "A Single Life".  I'm going to focus this article around these two because while the craftsmanship of the other three are superb, they don't hit the highs of the aforementioned films.  The nominees are, for the most part, quite good, but just aren't at the level of "Feast" and "A Single Life".

"A Single Life" is the best...and the shortest.  At barely two minutes in length, "A Single Life" is proof that shorter is frequently better.  In execution, the film is remarkably simple, yet is thematically very complex.  "A Single Life" was created by trio Job, Joris, and Marieke and tells the story of a woman who get a record delivered to her door, only to realize that the record has mysterious powers.

As morbidly comedic as any short film this critic has seen, "A Single Life" maximizes the potential of its excellent premise and provides a toe-tapping song to boot.  This is the kind of inventive, economical storytelling that we need more of.

Patrick Osborne's "Feast" is a heart-swelling success.  The film, which played in front of Big Hero 6, tells the story of Winston, a dog whose life revolves around food.  Over time, we see how his meals change as his human father changes.  "Feast" is gorgeously animated and profound, like "A Single Life".  It tells a complete story through massive jumps in time and flows effortlessly through these jumps.

"Feast" is a true pleasure to watch.  The concept is completely original and Osborne balances tones masterfully.  "Feast" is moving, exciting, heartbreaking, and pure fun.  This could very well win the Oscar.

Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi's "The Dam Keeper" is a very traditional story that nonetheless is very moving and visually stunning.  The craft is impeccable and the message never gets old.  I wouldn't be shocked if this won the Oscar (though I don't think it will win).

The sweet "Me and My Moulton", like many of the other shorts, has a profound, very important message.  It will be too low-key for some with its monotone narration and lack of energy, but for those more patient viewers, it will be a highly rewarding experience.  The animation is very simple, yet this is part of the film's charm.  "Me and My Moulton" isn't the strongest of the shorts, but is nonetheless a worthy nominee that is well worth a watch.

Finally, Daisy Jacobs' "The Bigger Picture".  It's animation is mind-blowing, but I couldn't connect to it emotionally like I did with the other films.  It's certainly worth a viewing for the innovative animation alone (some of the best I've ever seen - it would be interesting to look into how the animation was achieved), but "The Bigger Picture" simply wasn't my cup of tea.

Overall, as usual, this group of Oscar-nominated animated shorts are a mixed bag, but every single one is worth seeing.  Again, "A Single Life" and "Feast" are by far the best because of their profundity and their enjoyability.  It's a feat for a film to be as entertaining as those two and pack the punch that they do.

No comments:

Post a Comment