Today the Academy announced the 10 animated shorts that have made it onto the shortlist for the Oscar, to be given out in February. Only three to five of these films will be nominated, but even getting this far is an incredibly exciting accomplishment. Therefore, instead of just copying out the list and moving on, let’s talk about them a bit.
Of course, at this point some of the films are easier to learn about than others. The Sylvester and Tweety short even has a For Your Consideration page, while others have almost no online presence. The ten look to be a nice blend of techniques, with representation from stop-motion, traditional and computer generated animation. There’s also a bit of an international presence, with films from Argentina, the UK, France and Poland. The always-present National Film Board of Canada also appears twice on the list. There are veterans of the industry (including former Oscar nominees) alongside very new filmmakers.
Only one of these shorts is available on the web and I haven’t caught any of them at festivals this year, so this’ll be a somewhat basic preview. However, as things become more available I’ll try reviewing them individually. Once I’ve seen them, anyway. For now, here’s a round-up with some trailers.
Dimanche, by Patrick Doyon (National Film Board of Canada)
Patrick Doyon, according to his blog, is a Montreal-based illustrator and animator. He’s won a number of awards for his work in both areas, but it seems that Dimanche is his first major foray into animated film. (He does have a pretty delightful 10-second clip on his vimeo page, however.) Here’s the trailer for the short, which looks like the kind of clever and light-hearted traditional animation the NFB is so great at producing:
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (Moonbot Studios LA, LLC)
This short appears to be a fascinating blend of techniques, from CG animation to work with miniatures. Co-director William Joyce has been in the biz for while, having written and illustrated over 50 children’s books. He’s got 3 Emmys as the creator of Rolie Polie Olie, and his stuff has been on the cover of the New Yorker. The film has both a website and an iPad app, and is available on iTunes.
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat, by Matthew O’Callaghan (Warner Bros. Animation Inc.)
Believe it or not, this one actually has its own For Your Consideration website. Sylvester and Tweety return to the screen, accompanied by an old Mel Blanc recording. It’s playing in front of Happy Feet Two, which should still be in theaters just about everywhere. Warner Bros. is pushing the legacy of Looney Tunes at the Oscars, which I’ll get right behind if the short itself lives up to it. This could be Sylvester and Tweety’s fifth Academy Award nomination.
La Luna, by Enrico Casarosa (Pixar Animation Studios)
I have been dying to see this for ages. Pixar’s one film in the running, the press for this Pixar short has already begun. It’s based on an Italo Calvino short story, is the longest short film the studio has ever done, and it looks marvelous. Apparently it’s a blend of CG and watercolor work, which is the kind of experimentation big studios should absolutely be doing more of. Here’s a clip:
Luminaris, by Juan Pablo Zaramella (JPZtudio)
Juan Pablo Zaramella, a stop-motion animator from Argentina, has won a number of films on the festival circuit over the years. A bunch of his stuff is on Vimeo, which I promise I’ll look at and report back about soon. In the meantime, I am mostly just excited that there’s stop-motion on the list. Here’s the trailer:
Magic Piano, by Martin Clapp (BreakThru Films)
I can’t even find a trailer for this one, unfortunately. However, it’s an exciting prospect nonetheless. Martin Clapp was an animator on Peter and the Wolf, which picked up the Oscar in this category a few years ago. If this is another exciting stop-motion film with a musical theme, then I am all for it.
A Morning Stroll, by Grant Orchard (Studio AKA)
Based on the work of Paul Auster, this promises to be a strange and delightful piece of work. I can’t find much about it, but it looks cool. There’s nothing like a good story of man vs. chicken. Studio AKA has the trailer:
Paths of Hate, by Damian Nenow (Platige Image)
This one is a bit hard to figure out. The film’s website calls it “a short tale of beasts, which lie dormant deep in the human soul and push them into the abyss of blind hatred, rage and anger,” which is pretty intriguing but not so helpful about the plot. The trailer helps a bit, showing us a fire fight in the air with some really promising airplane animation.
Specky Four-Eyes, by Jean-Claude Rozec (Vivement Lundi!)
This French film, without a trailer online (that I can find, help me out if it’s out there), does have a profile on the uniFrance Films website. It’s played a number of festivals as well, including Aspen ShortsFest. It’s about a kid who doesn’t quite like it when he gets glasses, which ruin his near-sighted world of fantasy. Sounds like the kind of stuff the Academy loves, and I’m eager to see it.
Wild Life, by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby (National Film Board of Canada)
Finally, animators Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby return to the Academy Awards conversation. Their 1999 short When the Day Breaks was not only nominated for the animated short Oscar, but won the short Palme d’Or at Cannes. (Read about it in a Cannes shorts post I wrote for Spout this spring.) Adamant about their continued use of hand-drawn animation, these two filmmakers produce creative and empathetic work that makes the term “traditional animation” seem absolutely ridiculous. There’s a making-of video on the NFB website, and here’s the trailer.