This weekend, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Browning Cinema hosted my favorite part of awards season, the Oscar-nominated shorts. The Academy will have a painfully difficult decision this year for the Best Animated Short category. Starting off the nominees was Dear Basketball, Kobe Bryant’s animated poem about his love for the sport. The simple pencil-drawn animation and score by John Williams made the short a pleasure to watch and too short at only five minutes.
Next up was Negative Space, the most emotional of the pieces. A man reminisces about himself and his father bonding over packing suitcases. But the father has passed away, and the son laments the amount of wasted packing space in his coffin. The short was slow and wistful, and perfectly brought a sad smile to everyone’s faces.
The frontrunner is Pixar’s Lou, a fun film about a sentient collection of items in a grade school Lost and Found box that goes toe-to-lost-shoe with the playground bully. The movie was an audience favorite as well, with the whole theater laughing or “aww-ing” throughout. Another favorite was Revolting Rhymes, an animated take on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, which pits a gun-toting Red Riding Hood and Snow White against wolves, a burly evil queen, and a greedy pig bank owner. I found this one the most fun to watch—the half-hour film weaves together poems from the book to bring the upside-down world of fairy tales to life.
Rounding out the nominees was the most surprising short, the French Garden Party. The CGI animation was incredibly detailed and by far the most realistic of the shorts. The playful romp of frogs and toads through a manor is contrasted with the growing unease as the viewer notices the chaos inside the home—and the bullet holes in the windows. The ending was shocking—even if everyone expected it—and the entire theater was too stunned to even applaud at the end.
So, who takes home the Oscar? My prediction is that Pixar will pull it off again this year and Lou will win. The film was fun with a novel, playful concept, not to mention very well animated. Revolting Rhymes was my personal favorite to watch, however. It may have been the fact I read Roald Dahl when I was young, or the fact I laughed the most during it, but half an hour was somehow too short for this short. Whoever wins, the category was amazingly strong this year and the Oscar shorts is still my favorite yearly cinema event at DPAC.
OSCAR NOMINATED LIVE-ACTION SHORTS: REVIEW
The live-action short revolves around an armed man who enters an Atlanta elementary school, the receptionist at the entrance of the school who convinces him to give himself up and the 9-1-1 operator who acts as an intermediary between them and the police. It’s a poignant, touching story that seems larger than life in our violence-oriented world. Read more