Best of 2015 Animated Shorts

Hi guys!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  This week I am going to be sharing my ranking for the 2015 animated films but before that I wanted to talk animated shorts!  I love animated shorts and 2015 was actually a really terrific year for the medium.  I haven’t seen all of them as they aren’t all available but I watched a lot and I came up with my top 11.  I worked really hard on this video and would love if you gave it a watch.

But if you don’t want to watch the video I will give the list here.  I did include shorts from anthology films like The Prophet and Extraordinary Tales because I feel they stand on their own as shorts without needing the framing device.  In fact, they are much better without it.

So here are my top 11 2015 animated shorts

11. Frozen Fever

frozen fever5Yep, this die hard Frozen fan puts Frozen Fever at 11 because it is sweet and pleasant but not as artistically ambitious as the others on this list.  Frozen fans like myself will really enjoy seeing Anna and Elsa’s relationship grow and the new song is very enjoyable but it isn’t spectacular or anything.  Just really enjoyable for fans and there is nothing wrong with that.

10. A Bear’s Story

shorts 2015 bears10This animated short from Gabriel Osorio and it has a bit of a steampunk feel (shorts are the best place for steampunk IMO) about a bear that makes pictograph machines with a mechanical version of his family.  It reminded me a lot of Hugo and was very sweet and beautiful.

9. Lava

lava2I’m sure you guys are shocked this isn’t higher but when it came down to it the 8 shorts were more artistically ambitious than Lava.  I love Lava!  I love the music.  The song I have been singing all year and nearly anything with Hawaii has my heart but I just couldn’t get it higher.  It’s a delightful, sweet short.

8. An Object at Rest

shorts 2015 object5Similar to Lava, An Object at Rest tells the story of a mountain, that becomes a boulder, that becomes a stone, and continues on.  It is animated by Seth Boyden and it has a sketchy sweet style like Ernest and Celestine.

7. Le Gouffre

le gouffreThis short was a big surprise for me but it is beautiful.  It is about 2 adventurers that have to cross a chasm and build a bridge to get to the other side.  It sounds mundane but it is exciting and striking with great character designs.  It is from a studio out of Montreal called Lightning Bay Studio and it makes me very curious to see what the studio will do next.

6. On Eating and Drinking

Plympton_ProphetThis short is from The Prophet by amazing animator Bill Plympton who does all his artwork by hand and I love his sketchy style.  (Check out this year’s Cheatin’ to see more of his style).  This is a poem about eating and drinking and the imagery and flow with the poem are beautiful.

5. The Tell-Tale Heart

extraordinary tales8From the Edgar Allen Poe anthology film Extraordinary Tales we get the depiction of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart.  The art design with the black and white contrasting is really striking and Bella Legosi narrating gave great ambiance and immersed me in the story.

4. World of Tomorrow

shorts 2015 world of tomorrow5I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching it a dozen more times World of Tomorrow is at the top of my list.  It’s very obtuse and out there but I was intrigued by it.  Created by animated Don Hertzfeldt it is basically the animated sci-fi musings of a leader and a little girl.  It’s trippy and weird and different but I liked it for those reasons.

3. On Work

prophet on workThis short from The Prophet reminded me of a Van Gogh painting with the harvesters collecting the wheat from the field.  The poem was beautiful and the animation fit it perfectly.  It is bright and vivid and I loved it.

2. Sanjay’s Super Teamsanjay4I loved this story from Pixar about a little boy and a father trying to reconcile their differing views of the world.  You have little Sanjay who loves superheroes and his Dad who worships and prays to the Hindi Gods.  It’s not about polytheism or superheroes but about how we can take the best of the old and new and make something unique and great. The animation is bright, colorful and very creative.

1.  On Love

shorts 2015 on loveIf you haven’t caught on I am kind of obsessed with Tomm Moore.  His animation is so beautiful.  I loved Song of the Sea- one of my favorite animated films of all time and I think Secret of the Kells is wonderful.  Naturally, his short in The Prophet was my favorite of the group and of the year.  It is called On Love and is of course about love.  We get joy, passion, rejection, and belonging perfectly animated with the Khalil Gibran poem accompanying the stirring images.

 

So that is my ranking.  What do you think about my picks and what are your favorite animated shorts from the year?  I hopefully introduced you to a few you haven’t heard of and I would encourage you to check them out.

I know there are many I missed so please put in the comments section.  Thanks!

Extraordinary Tales Review

extraordinary talesI feel like I try to have a good handle on the animated films coming out but it seems like every month there is a new one I wasn’t aware of.  In September it was Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos. This month it was Extraordinary Tales, an anthology film telling 5 of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories.  It is available on demand and that’s how I saw it.

Before the review I must own to not being a hard core Poe fan.  I don’t mind his writing but am certainly not passionate about the stories.  I guess that makes me both more and less critical of this offering than Poe purists might be.

extraordinary tales4Extraordinary Tales is directed by Raul Garcia, a point we see reminded 7 times with each short getting their own introduction and credit section. We get it Raul directed the movie! We don’t need to see a full credits for each short!

In truth Extraordinary Tales isn’t really a movie in the modern sense.  It is 72 minutes but there are 6 minutes of  just closing credits and the transition segments with Poe as a Raven feel like they are on slow motion with voices not matching to the mouth movements of characters.  It all feels very slow.  I would honestly think when you get to just the 5 shorts it is around 45 minutes of actual story.

But as with this years The Prophet the key to a film like this lies with the quality of the shorts. I’d say only 1 I liked, 2 are artistically interesting but flawed and 2 were amateurish and cheap with one being kind of disgusting. extraordinary tales1111. The Fall of the House of Usher-

This is a Poe story I was unfamiliar with and it is about a man who visits a friend of his in a grand house who has an illness that causes them to have visions including a sister of his who died and that the house may be haunted.

The highlight of this short is the narrator is voiced by the late Christopher Lee.  I believe this is his last performance and it is very immersive.

Unfortunately I felt the story wasn’t that engaging and the animation was amateurish and cheap. It looked like a video game from the 90s.

extraordinary tales72. The Tell-Tale Heart-

By far my favorite of the shorts and my favorite Poe short story.  It is done in black and white shadows and isn’t a style I’ve seen done very often so I enjoyed it.  The story is about murder and guilt and how it will eat you up inside.

Another neat touch in this short is the use of a 1940s recording of The Tell-Tale Heart by horror great Bela Lugosi.  The scratchiness and sound of his voice add to the crime noir feel.

extraordinary tales33. The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar-

This is another short worthy of praise for its artistry.  It is done using a comic book feel and it reminded me of old illustrations in Dickens or Alice in Wonderland from the turn of the century.

The story is fine about a man who see’s a hypnotist and goes into a kind of midway point between life and death.  It’s definitely confusing but I liked looking at it enough to recommend it.  Julian Sands narration is also very good in the segment.

extraordinary tales94.  Pit and the Pendulum-

This short I did not care for.  It tells the story of a man incarcerated who is tortured with various devices including a pit and a pendulum.

I know this is the Poe story but I found it unpleasant to watch and kind of gross.  It’s one thing for something to be gross or shocking but in this short they keep repeating the same disgusting imagery again and again until I was tempted to fast forward.

For example, there are probably 6 or 7 scenes with rats crawling all over the man, eating food off the man, eating from his bowl of porridge, crawling on his leg etc.  It was gross!  I also thought the CG in this short looked pretty amateurish.

extraordinary tales65. Masque of the Red Death-

Basically this story is about a house where they are hiding from a plague symbolized by a grim reaper type with a red cape.  They have a masquerade party where there is sex (strong nudity shown) and all kinds of mayhem going on in different rooms of the house. Eventually Red Death makes his way through the house claiming his victims as he goes.

This is a story I wasn’t familiar with but I liked the artistry in the short.  It looks like a gothic watercolor and it was effectively creepy yet beautiful.

However, the mature content I could have done without and with really no story but people being naughty and dying it didn’t hold my interest despite looking nice.

So overall it isn’t a total loss.  If you are curious and it sounds like your cup of tea then I would go for it.  However, for me The Tell-Tale Heart was really the only short I loved.  The rest had major flaws that took me away from the film.

And like I said the transitions and all the credits made it a bit of a slog to get through.

But that’s just me.  If you see it let me know what you think! It’s certainly a unique project and I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Overall Grade- C- and that is probably being generous.