While there is some question at this point at whether or not the winners of these categories should be announced during the already overstuffed live Oscar telecast, there is some sizable talent to be found in this year’s short film picks.
This is where I pause to take a second to praise the animated field, which continues to stun and be celebrated for its innovation. From the feature length films to the shorts I’m about to list there are some magical minds in the bunch. Ranked below from least necessary to see to the most, take a look at what makes this year’s nominations so exciting.
Prologue (Richard Williams)
A titan of his craft, the director does suitable terrific work here with animation that is equally repulsive as it is beautiful. Showing the horrors of war with characters that have been stripped bare is shocking, but made even more so when it transitions to the point of view of a child. Few themes in the cinematic landscape are as instantly upsetting or powerful as the idea of the loss of innocence.
Sanjays Super Team (Sanjay Patel)
It’s tough to beat Pixar. Not necessarily because of the quality of the films (though often) but because they’re the name the voters are the most familiar with. Sanjays Super Team is a spectacular little showcase for the director Sanjay Patel who was influenced by his own upbringing of living in a modern world with the Hindu traditions of his family. Hopefully this will be a launching pad for Patel because the animation is gorgeous.
Bear Story (Gabriel Osorio)
Oof I loved this one and I dare anyone to watch and not be immensely (embarrassingly) moved by the end of its brief running time. It tells the story of an old bear and his life told through a mechanical diorama he uses as his street performance. We see him captured, separated from his family and sold to the circus and then his daring attempted escape but I won’t spoil how it ends.
The mechanical style of the film gives it a larger than life tone and there are individual shots in the film that rival the very best of the year-one in particular of a wild bike chase is astonishing. The music accompaniment brings out the emotions in this dialogue free picture and by the end you will be wanting nothing more than for this bear to have his much longed for happy ending.
We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos (Konstantin Bronzit)
Addressing themes of unbreakable kinship, devastating loneliness and crippling grief, We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos is heart achingly raw. A story about two friends determined to become astronauts before it turns into so much more, it’s difficult not to be moved by the end, the story catching you off guard. The animation is almost deceptively crude, stripping it down to the art forms bare minimum, allowing the weight of the story to soar.
World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)
While not my personal favorite of the bunch it’s impossible to ignore Don Hertzfeldt’s latest effort, a tremendous genre cocktail where science fiction and coming of age is brought together by trippy, eye popping visuals. Set in the distant future, a young girl Emily is brought to see how the world is falling into mayhem, on the verge of utter, inescapable destruction. The bleak, venomous humor along with Emily’s innocence gives the short a haunting quality. Good luck getting some of these images out of your head.
Dealing with humans need to persevere, our narcissism while also contemplating the pitfalls and redundancy of immortality there’s a whole lot to mull over at the shorts end. I can guarantee it will leave your head spinning. Animated in the director’s typical, disjointed style it is simplistic and allows for the heavy themes to flourish.