Last Friday I went to the Lagoon Cinema to see the five “Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated” plus two bonus “Highly Commended” shorts. I love this opportunity to see these films on the big screen for myself before finding out who “won”. Here are brief descriptions (stolen from the blurb at the theater’s website) in order of my “liking”, which I can virtually guarantee won’t match either the critics or the official voters :). My “review” appears in brackets after the description. Official sites and other links are also provided where available.
Madagascar, Carnet De Voyage (France), a journey diary that redraws the trip of a European traveller confronted with Famadihana customs (a funerary tradition of the Malagasy people in Madagascar). [My love of artist’s books bumps this one to the top. It is a travel journal/artist’s book “come to life”. Add music and rituals and new friends and you have the kind of scrapbook we all wish we could make when we get home from a trip.] Filmmaker’s Official site: http://www.bastiendubois.com/ Best on the big screen, but also viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaWEzsLVGiA
The Lost Thing (Australia/UK), about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature and sets out to find “place” for it. [If you saw something that looked “lost” would you try to find its home? Lovely story. Fun animation. I went back and forth between this and Madagascar about which to list first.] Official site: http://www.thelostthing.com/
Let’s Pollute (USA), a modern satire on how pollution is our heritage and keeps our economy growing strong. [Totally fun though horrifying at the same time. Great satire.] Official site: http://letspollute.com/
The Gruffalo (UK/Germany), the magical tale of a mouse who takes a walk through the woods in search of a nut. [Pretty sure this one will win. The longest of the “shorts”; Lots of famous names doing the voices. A story kids might love, but which I found rather old hat and boring. Some of the animation techniques are rather beautiful, but the whole thing left me rather cold.]
Movie Trailer available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq1ddK-Rlng
More information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pk64x
Official site for the book: http://www.gruffalo.com/
Day & Night (USA), the story of the sparks that fly when Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods. [Sorry Pixar, this just wasn’t up to snuff. Imitation of old-style cartoons. Story not very engaging or original.] Official site: http://www.pixar.com/shorts/d&n/index.html
The two bonus shorts were:
Bill Plympton’s The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger (USA), a children’s fable about the power of advertising, the meaning of life, and ultimately the test of a mother’s love. [Rather horrifying and hilarious at the same time. What would you do if you were a mother cow and your child dreamed of becoming a hamburger after seeing a billboard ad? . . . ‘nuf said 🙂 ] Official site: http://www.plymptoons.com/
Urs (Germany), the story of a son who carries his aging mother up a dangerous mountain to find a better place for both of them. But she wants to stay at home. [Heartbreaking story of the need for change and what can get lost along the way. The animated rock climbing was rather impressive.] Official site: http://www.urs-film.com/
I should mention that these films are being made available in theaters through Shorts International. Their website has links to their iTunes channel where some of the films are available for $1.99. Some of the films (and/or trailers) can also be found via other familiar sources (youtube).