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article imageReview: Oscar-nominated Animated shorts are no small matter Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 6, 2015 in Entertainment
This year’s nominees for the animated shorts category at the Academy Awards illustrate the genre’s ability to reflect and entertain.
The Oscar-nominated animated short films range from light-hearted comedy to heartrending allegory. Some filmmakers tell tender tales that benefit from the shortened style, while others use it to deliver vital commentary on societal issues. Even the animation types vary from hand-drawn to computer-generated. But each is independently exceptional and deserving of the Academy’s recognition.
In comparison to the other shorts categories, this one contains the briefest pictures and A Single Life is the shortest of the five. In this succinct story a woman finds a mysterious vinyl single that has the ability to move forwards and backwards in time, allowing her to travel through her life at will. As she experiments with her newfound power and relishes the control it affords — at one point she fast forwards her pregnancy and then skips the diaper years — she makes a hilarious and irreversible error. Short, sweet and incredibly entertaining make this Dutch morsel an indisputable selection.
The Bigger Picture features equally absurd visuals, but addresses the sombre issue of caring for an elderly parent. The woman has two sons, but one shoulders the majority of the responsibility while the other takes equal credit. Annoyed, the giving brother imagines sucking everything into the vacuum so there’s nothing left to clean. When he voices his frustration, his mother remarks, “It’s not a competition.” The quirky visuals prevent the narrative from becoming to grave, though there are certain things that remain solemn regardless. This movie speaks to a situation many adults now find themselves in with honesty and humour.
A scene from Oscar-nominated Animated Short   The Dam Keeper
A scene from Oscar-nominated Animated Short, 'The Dam Keeper'
George Orwell’s Animal Farm was a commentary of his society made more powerful by using beasts in place of humans. Similarly, The Dam Keeper is a critical statement on bullying and the effects it has on children. In a town populated by anthropomorphic animals, a lonely piglet is regularly taunted and confronted by his peers in spite of his important duty of maintaining the dam and thus protecting the town. When a new student offers to be his friend, his spirits are lifted; but an upsetting incident finally pushes the pig over the edge. The poignancy of this 18-minute drama is absolutely heartbreaking, particularly in its metaphor for a tragedy that has affected so many.
Feast screened last year before Disney’s first animated Marvel production, Big Hero 6, which probably makes it the most watched short of the 15 total nominees this year. It tells the charming story of a man who finds and takes home a stray puppy. Their friendship is built on food as the man commonly shares his meals, including French fries and pizza, with the dog. But when a woman enters the picture and the man begins to eat healthier, the pup is not impressed with the greener items making their way to his bowl. However the story takes a heartwarming twist when man’s best friend chooses his owner’s happiness over his own. Adorable probably isn’t a strong enough word for this unsurprisingly lovely picture.
A scene from Oscar-nominated Animated Short   Me and My Moulton   in which a young girl laments her ...
A scene from Oscar-nominated Animated Short, 'Me and My Moulton,' in which a young girl laments her father's moustache.
Finally, the Canadian Me and My Moulton tells the story of three sisters who ask their eccentric parents for a bicycle they can share. Told from the perspective of the middle sibling, she envies the picture perfect family who live on the lower level of their duplex as they seem to have “normal” parents, clothes bought in stores and standard, comfortable furniture. But as the girls anxiously await their parents’ decision, the grass on the other side begins to brown and they learn to appreciate the unconventionality of their household. The animation appears rather simple and vibrant, which complements the fact that it’s narrated by a young girl.
Audiences have the rare opportunity to see the nominees before the ceremony via the 10th annual Oscar Nominated Short Films showcase organized by ShortsHD, the world’s only short movie channel. The live action, animation and documentary short film nominees are all released as three separate theatrical events in more than 450 theatres on three continents.
More about Oscar nominees, short films, Animated, A Single Life, The Bigger Picture
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