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. Continue reading
I love stop motion animation. For whatever reason, despite having seen countless shorts and features using the technique, it blows me away almost on principle. Everything, from the Brothers Quay and Terry Gilliam to Wallace and Gromit and that episode of Community, sends me into awe as I think about the process. These little movements, each artfully choreographed down to the slightest detail, are suddenly stacked together for kinetic experiences that often feel much more alive than regular live-action filmmaking. It takes you back to the very basics of cinema.
And of course new technology has only sent creativity through the roof. People can now make shorts with their phones, like that Aardman video set on the beach that was released this summer. Shorts are being made everywhere, inspired by our new world of technology in unexpected and delightful ways. Address Is Approximate is a shining example of this exciting trend. Put on the web just a few days ago by The Theory films, this delightful distraction uses Google Maps to show just how small the world can be these days. Continue reading
I cannot tell you how many times I have looked dreamily at the shorts line-up of some faraway film festival, desperately wishing someone would fly me to Austin, Venice, or even Cleveland. That rarely ends up happening. However, as is often the case, we have the Internet to thank for a consolation prize of sorts. The Short Rounds: Fantastic Fest piece I put together for Movies.com last week is a good example of what I’ll try accomplishing here. The experience of attending a film festival in person is irreplaceable, but here at ShortStack we’ll do the best we can remotely. To kick things off: Tucson Film and Music Festival, running now through Monday.
Now, there are a number of cool things on the TFMF program I could talk about. There’s Guru, a documentary short I saw at Tribeca this year. It’s fantastic, an unsettling psychological tour de force that looks at a motivational speaker spiraling out of control. There’s a new fiction short by Chad Hartigan, which looks interesting and which I’m sure I’ll have cause to write about once I’ve seen it. Neil LaBute even pops up, having written the screenplay of an inevitably bold short called After-School Special. Yet in spite of all that, the one aspect of the fest that draws me in the most is their Music Video-Rama. Music videos are easily seen on the web but almost never on the big screen, and the very idea of having a festival program of music videos is pretty cool.
Of course, if you’re not in Tucson you don’t have much chance to actually catch the event. Thankfully, most of the videos are available online. Here are a few favorites: Continue reading