I’ve been wanting to do this post for some time but I had a hard time finding 2 of the nominated animated shorts for this years Oscars. I finally was able to watch them all and thought I would give you my thoughts.
Coming out of Chili by director Gabriel Osorio Vargas Bear Story is about a bear who builds diorama’s kind of like what we saw in Hugo. He is a lonely bear and tells the story of that loneliness through the diorama. The animation is beautiful with a heavy steampunk feel to it.
Basically the story is the bear is taken from his family to perform in the circus. You get that sadness mixed in with the fun of the circus. Each scene is layered with movement and details. It is extremely charming.
Overall Grade B+
Animator Richard Williams vision of ancient warfare is definitely a unique nominee. It is done using a pencil, hand drawn style and the animation is quite striking. When it focuses on a characters eyes or face it reminded me of a lithograph or an etching.
However, this film is ADULTS ONLY! I am not being quaint or hesitant when I say that. It is extremely bloody and the nudity is graphic and repeated. For a short that is just over 5 minutes it is kind of astonishing how R rated it could be!
Evidently it is accurate to ancient warriors for them to fight naked (who knew?) but there really isn’t any story here that I could see at least. It is people brutally killing each other and then at the end a girl stands in shock over the blood. I guess that is a message about war but not particularly inventive or thought provoking in my opinion.
Maybe we will learn more in future episodes? It is called Prologue after all
Overall Grade- C-
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is out of Russia and directed and written by Konstantin Bronzit. It may not have the most stunning animation but the story makes up for any failings in that department.
It is 2D animation in the style of TV animation like The Simpsons, and tells the story of 2 best friends who dream of becoming cosmonauts. It starts with them in training and they joyously complete every task. At one point they even leap off of their beds trying to get a feeling of zero gravity.
I don’t want to spoil it for you but suffice it to say I love stories of friendship and this one had my heart. It is very sweet and lovely.
Overall Grade- A
World of Tomorrow
Oh boy…how do I explain World of Tomorrow? To be honest Don Hertzfeldt’s sci-fi study of human nature makes me feel kind of dumb. I’ve seen it a lot and I still don’t really get it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but did it need to be quite so obtuse? I guess for Don’s artistic vision it did.
Basically it is about a little girl named Emily who receives a video transmission of a clone version of herself from the future. This clone takes Little Emily into her current world where they have a land called ‘the Outernet’.
Clone Emily then takes Little Emily through different memories and then tells her that the earth will be destroyed by a meteoroid. Then Clone Emily reveals she came to see Little Emily to retrieve a memory she had forgotten. She hopes this memory will be comforting for the end of the world.
So there you have it. The main message is we should focus on the important stuff. That when the end comes the trivial will dissolve and only the most special memories will remain. Technology obscures the hear and now and makes us focus only on the fluff.
Clone Emily says
“Do not lose time on daily trivialities. Do not dwell on petty detail. For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”
The animation is brilliant and different in World of Tomorrow and I think it will win, and it is probably deserved. On one hand I like it is layered and tricky to decipher it’s meaning, but I think it goes a little too far in that department, to the point of ostracizing me a bit as a viewer. It’s great but I still don’t love it like some people do.
That said Overall Grade- A
Sanjay’s Super Team
I have already done a whole blog post on Sanjay’s Super Team. This is Pixar’s offering (Lava was actually submitted in 2014). Everyone seems to think it is shoe-in for Sanjay to win this category but I did some research and Pixar actually doesn’t have a great track record here. They haven’t won since 2001! Even something like La Luna (my favorite Pixar short) was beat by Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore which is completely charming so I get it. The academy seems to like to reward smaller studios in animated short category.
Anyway, Sanjay’s Super Team is directed by Sanjay Patel and it is inspired by his childhood growing up as an American boy with Hindu observant parents. The story is little Sanjay is watching his favorite superhero show when his father is praying and meditating. His father insists he join him and Sanjay starts out bored but imagines the Hindu Gods as superheroes.
It is a beautiful film about how a meeting of the minds can occur and generations can understand each other better. The animation is bright and colorful, some of Pixar’s best, and the lesson Sanjay learns is very sweet. He see’s that maybe his Dad’s crazy ideas aren’t so bad after all.
Overall Grade- A+
My thoughts on all 5. Prologue is too R rated for me and lacks a good story so it is my least favorite. The other 4 I like a lot, even if World of Tomorrow makes my head hurt. I would probably order them
- Sanjay’s Super Team
- We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
- World of Tomorrow
- Bear Story
Have you had a chance to see the animated shorts? I would love your thoughts. Which do you like the best? Do you think World of Tomorrow will win or are you pulling for another choice?