(Copied my own intro from the Live Action Short Films – review)
I love short films. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I watch usually at least one a day online – either judging for a festival or at shortoftheweekcom – and attend many festivals and watch online. Hell, I even judge for the Crypticon film festival. Earlier this year, I went to the Grave Plot Film Fest (review)and later on will be Bone Bat (2017 review). I’m lucky as the PNW has so many options – the Lovecraft Film Fest in Portland, Seattle International Film Fest (www.siff.net); and Walla Walla Movie Crush among the many.
So of course I check out the Oscar Nominated Short Films every year. And would I be me if I didn’t chime in with my thoughts of the five nominated films. Here they are in order of the showing in the Shorts.tv presentation (now rentable on VOD from your favorite source). After I’ll place my rankings and award thoughts.
Bao (USA), 8 Minutes; Written and Dir Domee Shi
You may remember this short as the Pixar story before Incredibles 2 last summer. A woman is making baos when one comes to life, becoming her son. We see the struggles of raising the kid and her reactions as he grows up and leaves. Yeah, very heavy metaphor. I don’t think it completely works but I can see where it was coming from and feels personal to the filmmaker. The Animation is as good as you’d expect from Pixar but isn’t’ particularly stylized – likely to focus on the story itself. Unfortunately, it’s story we see often.
Late Afternoon (Ireland); 10 minutes; Written and Dir by Louise Bagnall
Sweet and sad, I loved this short. An older woman remembers her life through items her daughter packing up the house hands her. The simple but stylized hand-drawn animation is perfect for the reflections.
Animal Behavior (Canada) 14 Minutes; Written and directed by David Fine & Alison Snowden.
A single joke premise stretched to breaking point. A series of animals attend a therapy session, including a new member of the group – a gorilla. The writing based around the character expectations from each of them – a dog (the leader), preying mantis, leech, cat, bird, and the mentioned gorilla. This drags its way through the forced jokes and ugly animation.
One Small Step (USA & China); 8 minutes; Directed by Andrew Chesworth & Bobby Pontillas
Another featuring a parent/child connection, it’s a theme this year as much as child engagement was in the Live Action side. I really felt for this small family, and connected quickly, as the girl grew and the dad attempts to keep connection and be there for her. The arc is a little standard, but still uplifting – but it’s great to see a science and learning positive narrative as well. The animation is CG and solidly done. I dig it.
Weekends (USA); 15 minutes; dir by Trevor Jimenez
A boy learns to live with his recently separated parents; weekends (title!) with his dad in the city, and with his mom otherwise in the suburbs. Through him, silently, we see how either parent moves on from that relationship and rebuild. It’s beautiful and honest, feeling very personal for Jimenez. The art style reminded me of Triplets of Bellville; very busy, dirty, and detailed.
There were two additional shorts to the package – as there is every year – but I’m going to leave them off – but the Pirate one is solid and funny; but Tweet Tweet was meh
What will win? Well in previous years, the one I liked the least is the winner. Last year was Dear Basketball; two years ago was particually angry when Bear Story won over We Can’t Live Without Cosmos and The World of Tomorrow – two of the best shorts I’ve ever seen. Seek both of those out. So from that Animal Behavior will get it. But I honestly expect Bao.
What should win? – I’m gunning for Weekends. Heartfelt with fantastic design and emotional beats. Great use of character; told incredibly well, and honest.