A look at the 2015 Oscar-nominated animated short films
Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is finally over. The pinnacle of awards season for films and filmmakers has arrived.
This Sunday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 87th Academy Awards ceremony (now officially known as The Oscars) will honor the best films of 2014, and with it evidently comes a new batch of winners whose works in the film industry have displayed excellence of artistic value and much more within the past year.
For several months now, the ongoing debate of which film will come out the most victorious as the best of the best between "Foxcatcher", "Boyhood", and "The Imitation Game" have been the center of conversation of film critics and film buffs alike.
Though this year's feature-length nominees each rightfully deserve to be awarded the most recognized 13.5 inch golden statue man has ever held, it's also impossible not to hold in an identical high regard the nominees within the animated short films category.
True enough, these animated shorts deliver nothing short of amazing to the viewers - from the emotional facets each story addresses to the remarkable creativity that has helped bring the stories to life. Each individual short film undeniably offers a unique factor that certainly makes up the cumulative sentimental impact of the nominees as a whole.
First in the category comes from the imaginative mind of three-time Oscar nominee and winner Torill Kove ["The Danish Poet" (2006), "My Grandmother Ironed The King's Shirts" (1999)] entitled "Me and My Moulton". This semi-autobiographical story evokes the simplicity of Kove's trademark artwork - clean yet hard, distinct lines and vibrant colors that exemplify an impeccable picture-book quality that are also evident in her past nominated animated films. Kove shares a peak into her childhood and narrates the story of a seven-year-old girl growing up with her two other sisters (one older and one younger) and a set of eccentric, non-conformist, modernist architects for parents.
The shortest in the category, with a running time of a whopping 2 minutes, is an entry from Netherlands called "A Single Life." This comedic short tells the tale of Pia and a mysterious single vinyl, aptly named "A Single Life," that somehow enables her to travel back and forth through her life depending on where the needle is dropped. The film excels in quirky animation worthy of actual feature length. Additionally, the underlying theme of the story subtly implores a reflection of one's life, essentially advising the viewers not to take it for granted.
The next nominated animated short is sure to tug the heartstrings of foodies, romantics, and dog-lovers of every generation. Disney's "Feast" debuted in theaters as an appetizer for the critically-acclaimed feature film "Big Hero 6" in November. This visually perfect romantic comedy is seen through the eyes of an adorable Boston terrier pup, Winston, in fun and vivid colors. It's a story of Winston and his relationship with his human, James, who adopts the pup after finding him out in the streets one night. Together, they gorge themselves in french fries, pizza, spaghetti, meatballs, and potato chips in all its junk food glory up until James finds himself a health-conscious, salad loving girlfriend. One unquestionably notable aspect of the film is its effortless portrayal of James and his girlfriend's love story artfully playing in the background in the middle of Winston's cuteness.
For a more serious and emotional tone, former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi deliver an exceptionally moving piece through the longest nominated of shorts, "The Dam Keeper" (18 mins). Its faded chalk-like artistic imagery and a hauntingly beautiful musical score envelop the gripping tale of introverted Pig as he deals with childhood bullying while keeping the town free of toxic air. He is befriended by a new student, Fox, who bonds with him through her witty sketches and eventually helps Pig gain the confidence he so deserves. This gut-wrenching animal-centered short will genuinely render one speechless and in need of Kleenex.
The last nominated animated film, "The Bigger Picture", is perhaps the most aesthetically inventive and creative of the bunch. This British 8-minute film by Daisy Jacobs is a meticulous stop-motion feature of actual two-dimensional wall paintings with pop-out limbs. With its grimy look and gray neutrals wholly prevalent throughout the film, "The Bigger Picture" tells the story of Nick as he dedicates his time to taking care of his sickly and cranky mother, which effectively underscores the themes of familial conflicts and death with a bit of dark humor to complement it.
The five aforementioned animated short nominees collectively summarize the fundamental facets of life each and every one of us goes through - childhood, love, friendship, and death. The palpable sense of connection through human emotion viewers develop with the stories and characters themselves, not to mention the brilliant artistic techniques emanated overall, is certainly enough evidence for their right to an Oscar nod.