MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

OSCAR: Animated Shorts

The five films competing for Best Animated Short – which you can now see in markets all over the country c/o Shorts International – are quite remarkable this year.

For my personal tastes, creating a hierarchy wasn’t hard. But the four films really speak to five different kind of animation sensibilities.

I was blown away by Day & Night the first time I saw it, on screen, before Toy Story 3. I have liked all the Pixar shorts. They are really worth buying on DVD/Blu. But this one was one of my favorites ever. Teddy Newton & Co simply came up with a concept that, for me, was singular. I’m not sure I could even explain it here if I needed to… but I don’t need to… you should see it. I love the music (GIacchino, of course). I love the ideas. And the execution is like watching a magic trick you have seen 1000 times, but still can’t quite figure out… and don’t want to. A masterpiece.

I will watch The Gruffalo with my son, in a few years, over and over and over again. It’s a great piece of filmmaking, highly stylized, with a challenging story, and god stuff for both adults and kids. It’s a bit like Bill Goldman’s The Princess Bride, though it never leans quite as far to the adult side.

Let’s Pollute is basic satire with style. It’s a spin on classic public service messages, just with the exact opposite message you would expect. And just when you think you’ve got the gag and it’s getting repetitive, it finds a new spin on the idea. Excellent stuff.

Madagascar, A Journey Diary mixes a variety of animation styles, endlessly jumping from style to style as it offers a Madagascan adventure. Very, very beautiful, eye-catching, with great music, and what feels very organic.

Last but not least, The Lost Thing is a sophisticated children’s book come to life. It feels like the experience of a book that sinks in more deeply as you read it over and over again with your child. There is a lesson, but it’s a subtle as every other element of the film.

4 Responses to “OSCAR: Animated Shorts”

  1. scooterzz says:

    i loved every one of these selections and it would be impossible for me to pick a favorite…there is just so much great work here…

  2. berg says:

    Nothing quite as memorable a last year’s Logorama although Gruffalo has a tony voice cast …. the real gem this year is the Oscar Nommed Live Action Shorts …. every one of them is a keeper

  3. cadavra says:

    Agreed, though POLLUTE was my favorite. However, I honestly think GRUFFALO should have been tightened a bit; 27 minutes is far too long for a one-joke premise whose punchline is obvious from the outset.

  4. chris says:

    On the one hand, I think little kids being able to chime in with the repetition after a while is a big part of the point of “Gruffalo” (exactly like in a book for little ones). On the other hand, I agree, cadavra — it could lose ten minutes easily. Maybe I should rewatch “Pollute,” but it struck me as a cleverish short that revealed its small point very early and then re-hammered it. “Madagascar” and “Day & Night” are just about perfect, though, I’d say.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg