Monday, February 10, 2014
Check out the five short films vying for this year’s Oscar
Find out where you can see them at a theater near you.
It is rare that people get the treat of seeing the short films nominated for the coveted Oscar each year. They aren’t released in theaters like feature films. Some appear in front of feature films – like the Pixar animated shorts, but not all. Now do you need to see them? Perhaps not, but short films nominated for an Oscar can be a real treat. We got a chance to see them and wanted to share our thoughts.
Oh and if you want to see them go to the ShortsHD website - http://theoscarshorts.shorts.tv/. You can get information on each of the films and see listings for where you can see them in theaters. Typically they are showing at the less mainstream theaters like a Landmark or Angelika. The Magnolia Landmark theater here in our hometown of Dallas is playing the short films for the public. We would highly recommend you check it out if you are in Dallas or if they are playing at a theater near you.
2014 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films include:
- Feral (Daniel Sousa, Dan Golden)
- Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, Dorothy McKim)
- Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)
- Possessions (Shuhei Morita)
- Room on the Broom (Max Lang, Jan Lachauer)
Possessions (2013) — On a stormy night, deep in the mountains, a man has lost his way and comes across a small shrine. When he enters, the space suddenly transforms into a completely different room. What was once a dingy room filled with broken things is now bring and filled with brightly colored abandoned umbrellas and kimonos. The man sees beauty in these discarded things and painstakingly mends them. Through his actions he brings comfort to the forgotten remnants. “How well you served people before you turned to rags. Your rest is earned.”
Written and directed by Shuhei Morita, Possessions has an almost haunting quality to it. The animation is a combination of 2-D and CGI. It actually looked and felt a little like a video game we play called Borderlands. Although this had more depth to it than the game. The story is simple but unique and extremely likable. The moral of the story is a refreshing one and gives you food for thought.
Mr. Hublot (2013) — Mr. Hublot is a recluse who lives in a mechanical world. A world where the giant scale of machines and the relentless use of salvaged materials reign supreme. Withdrawn from this world Mr. Hublot’s life is scheduled and based on a strict routine. He is scared of the world outside, so aside from stepping out on the patio to tend his mechanical flowers, he just doesn’t leave. The arrival of an abandoned dog Robot Pet, who Mr. Hublot ventures outside to save despite misgivings, will turn his life upside down. Share his home with this very invasive but lovable companion will change Mr. Hublot forever.
It is hard to fully review Mr. Hublot without ruining the mood and the outcome of this short film. The story is deceptively simple despite the complex mechanical world it takes place in. The mechanical world provides excellent contrast to the emotion embedded within the story. It sets the audience up to think one way when really things aren’t that way at all. This is especially true at the end. I was enraptured by this animated short. The details in the animation are wonderfully intricate and interesting and the story just sucks you right in and might even make some cry. Takes real genius to succeed in such a feat in less than 10 minutes. This one is a strong contender in my book to take home the Oscar.
Feral (2013) — A wild wolf boy is found in the woods by solitary hunter who brings the boy back to civilization. The hunter makes over the wild boy in the image of a normal boy and sends him off to school. Alienated and in a strange environment the boy tries to adapt, but when he is threatened his wild instincts take hold scaring everyone around him.
Directed and animated by Daniel Sousa, Feral has themes of fairy tale and mythology throughout. It has a darker side the often times directors and particularly animators shy away from. There is the feel of danger in Feral and it comes across in the style of animation and the colors used (mostly blacks, grey brown and an off-white). While the feel is easy to decipher, the story or the meaning Sousa is going for is a bit convoluted. It’s as if you need to have a pre-existing wild side or be dark and brooding yourself to understand and appreciate the essence of Feral. Not the favorite of the animated shorts, but still has elements that can be appreciated.
Room on the Broom (2013) — There once was a kind witch who had a cat and a tall pointy hat. In their travels together and through various circumstances, the witch invites a dog, a green bird and a frog to join them on the broom — much to the consternation of her cat. Together they zoom around enjoying the ride till a fearsome dragon attacks. The dragon wants witch and chips for dinner that night. Not to worry though, the withes group of friends save her from the bad dragon and together they create a new broom that suits each of their needs perfectly. Featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson (Witch), Rob Brydon (Cat), Martin Clunes (Dog), Sally Hawkins (Bird), Simon Pegg (Narrator), Timothy Spall (Dragon), David Walliams (Frog).
The longest of the animated shorts at just under 30 minutes, Room on the Broom is based on a children’s picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Room on the Broom is a story book come to life. It is adorable with a message about kindness and friendship that is lovely. There isn’t much more to be said about this animated short. Its simplistic, like the children’s story book its based on. The animation is decent but nothing spectacular or genre altering. And it does start to feel a little long at times, but the cute factor makes up for that. So all in all, you can see why it was nominated because it does a fabulous job of bringing story to life but in all likelihood it doesn’t rock the boat enough to be the winner of the Oscar.
Get a Horse (2013) — Micky, Minnie and their friends – Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow are enjoying a musical and magical hay wagon ride when the nasty Peg-Peg Pete shows up and tries to run them off the road. Pete kidnaps Minnie and drives off with her. The chase begins as Mickey and friends attempt to rescue Minnie from Pete’s clutches. Mickey has to use every “trick” up his sleeve in order to get her back.
Get a Horse, directed by veteran hit TV show Director Lauren MacMullan, pays homage to the classic Disney animated cartoons from Disney’s hay days but with a twist. The animated short pairs the original hard drawn black and white animated with newer full color, 3-D CG filmmaking all in the same frame. The jokes pay homage to the classic short animations as well with only one that touches on modern-day and is rather out-of-place so it falls kind of flat. There is lots to love about Get a Horse. It is silly and fun yet intelligently created to be complex yet simple. It premiered in front of Disney box office hit Frozen, which likely gave it a boost to award worthy status. Frozen is a lock to take home the Oscar in its category! Get a Horse likely won’t be a sure win because in comparison to the other animated shorts in the category it seems more a funny joke than a serious short film. Still, Get a Horse warmed a spot in our hearts and harkened back to where animation first began.
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