Ceara Kelly, Staff Writer
The 91st Academy Awards are just around the corner, and once again the Animated Short Films are probably the easiest category to catch up on to impress everyone at your Oscar party. Whether it be about a mother dealing with her son moving out, a woman exploring her childhood memories, or a little girl dreaming of walking on the moon, the shorts all tell just as rich stories as the full-length films. They’re often overlooked, but that doesn’t make them any less fantastic.
It seems like every year Pixar is leading the pack when it comes to animated short nominees, and this year is no different. Bao played before The Incredibles 2 and is one of the shorter films in the category, coming in at eight minutes, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the more impactful. Following the story of a mother raising a bao come to life as her own child. As the Bao Baby grows older he rejects his culture and a rift forms between him and his mother. The story manages to cover the glass of cultures for immigrant children in a short amount of time while allowing the viewer to enjoy a kind, loving family story.
One Small Step once again plays at eight minutes, and once again it’s heartwrenching despite the time constraints. This time the story follows a young girl who desperately wants to be an astronaut and her relationship with her shoemaker father. As she grows up she stumbles through school and applying to the space program her dad does everything he can to keep her inspired. The stylistic animation is fantastic completely contradicting the later tone of the story. Despite the downright depressing middle, there’s plenty of whimsy and inspiration that you expect to find in an animated short. While Bao is the front runner, One Small Step seems to be one of the few contenders that can take it down.
Despite being made by a Pixar animator, Weekends has no connection to the company as a short film based on Trevor Jimenez’s early childhood with his divorced parents. Running a whopping 16 minutes makes it one of the longest shorts in the category this year. The sketchy style adds to the oddly supernatural feeling of the short brought on by the surreal red horse the young boy seems obsessed with as he learns to deal with bouncing between homes and adjusting to his new lifestyle. With few facial expressions and no dialogue, the main driving force of emotion in the short was a spectacular score.
Tied for longest short of the bunch, the Canadian mad short Animal Behaviour is nothing but one big long animal themed pun comedy. The short follows a group of animals in therapy as they try to correct their inherent animal nature, and is just a long-running joke about how weird animals are, mocking people for getting mad about things that can’t be changed like a leach being a leach. The animation appears to be nothing special compared to the rest, but its smooth production proves that a flashy and unique style isn’t everything when it comes to these productions.
Late Afternoon is the only nominee this year from somewhere other than North America. The Irish made animation brings back the bittersweet tone of the first three. The whole short looks like a bright watercolor painting which fits perfectly with the story of an old woman traveling through memories of her early life as her house is packed up before a move. The short is absolutely fantastic and manages to feel nostalgic despite being about an old Irish woman.
While the next two shorts were not nominated for the award, the honorable mentions were equally entertaining.
Tweet Tweet is Russia’s submission for this year. The computer-animated bird the movie follows is cute and bouncy contradicting the yet again bittersweet tone of the film. The bird leads a girl through life, making sure she stays standing when she stumbles and doesn’t fall when it all seems done. The animation is stunning and on par with all the nominees. While it was mostly just the bird and some legs, the detail in the passing surroundings was great.
The second honorable mention, Wishing Box, follows the story of a lovable monkey who just wants a bunch of fruit and a treasure chest that lets him endlessly summon it. Unfortunately, the pirate who found it desperately wants gold. The comical adventure has an adorable style to match. The credits show the work out into the film, giving a nice insight into all the effort put into all the different film.