With the Academy Awards just a few weeks away, ReviewFix.com Editor-In-Chief Patrick Hickey Jr. shares his thoughts on the five films nominated in the category of “Best Animated Short” and three other pieces named to the Academy’s shortlist.
FRENCH ROAST – (France, 8 min., Director: Fabrice O. Joubert): Feeling like someone combined the charm of a Pixar film with an added dash of French wit, “French Roast” is an adorable animated short that proves life is full of surprises. It would have been easy for Joubert to come up with something predictable here, especially with the setting, but instead, you have a plot that is anything but linear and is fun to follow. From the silly beginning, to the unexpected finish, it’s equally as hilarious as it is heart-warming. You’ll be smiling the whole time.
THE LADY AND THE REAPER (Spain, 8 min., Director: Javier Recio Gracia): Perhaps the most laugh out loud short featured here, “The Lady and the Reaper,” which was also produced by Antonio Banderas, has a “Looney Tunes” feel to it that will have you smiling throughout. Following the exploits of a woman whose life is supposedly ready to end, the Grim Reaper and a cocky doctor have a battle of the wits that put the poor old lady in the middle. Off the wall and never predictable, this short pushes the envelope and thrives because of it.
A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH – (UK, 30 min., Director: Nick Park): Animation legend Nick Park is at it again and if you’re a fan of “Wallace and Gromit,” you’ll find their newest adventure as cheeky and colorful as anything they’ve released in the past. ReviewFix’s pick for animated short of the year, the film doesn’t have the same brevity as some of the other pieces Park has directed over the years, but is still an exceptional stop-motion flick that can be enjoyed by all, for plenty of reasons. Filled with as cutesy moments as double-entendres, this short bakes a wicked loaf of bread.
GRANNY O’GRIMM’S SLEEPING BEAUTY – (Ireland, 6 min., Director: Nicky Phelan): Easily the weakest of the nominated films [and all of the films featured as well], this “version” of “Sleeping Beauty” has its moments, but overall lacks the polish you’d expect from an Academy Award Nominee. Excellent animation aside, this is a passable offering overall.
PARTLY CLOUDY – (USA, 6 min., Director: Peter Sohn – additional shortlisted film): How this film wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award is ludicrous. Overall, Pixar’s newest short is solid from start to finish and wipes the floor with a few of the other pieces featured. However, perhaps due to the fact that is an animation awe-fest with a heart-warming message, it was overlooked by the nomination committee. Nevertheless, you’ll remember it after you leave the theater.
RUNAWAY – (Canada, 9 min., Director: Cordell Barker – additional shortlisted film): While it doesn’t feature the best animation, Barker’s message here is perhaps the strongest and is well-executed to boot. His use of subtlety and irony are just as fierce here as well, making it more of a thinking man’s animated tale than one for the kiddies. In spite of that, it’s enjoyable and worthy of a spot on this list.
THE KINEMATOGRAPH – (Poland, 12 min., Director: Tomek Baginski – additional shortlisted film): The most serious of all the shorts listed, “The Kinematograph” has a dramatic message that is encompassed by easily the best animation in a short film in quite some time. Everything from the characters’ hands to eyes are vividly animated and make the short a feast for the eyes. However, poor dialogue and a feeling that the plot is being rushed along, hamper the overall experience.
LOGORAMA – (France, 16min., Directed by H5: Franςois Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, Ludovic Houplain): Part Pop Culture, Part “Grand Theft Auto,” “Logorama” takes shots at everything and everyone it can in 16 short minutes and because of that may irritate some movie-goers. Those who are not easily offended however will understand and receive the messages loud and clear. Excellent animation and great camera shots fuel this tale and where pop culture references fail, foul language and brutality fill in the gaps, making it an entertaining romp from start to finish.
All of these films are currently appearing at the IFC Center Theater on West 3rd street and sixth avenue in Greenwich Villiage, NYC.