Once again, ShortsHD The Short Movie Channel (a.k.a. ShortsTV) has theatrically released this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films. These special programs are usually the only way for most movie fans to see these otherwise illusive short film nominees that can make our break your office Oscar pool. In the first of three parts, Movie Dearest takes a look at this year's five nominees for Best Animated Short.
The Bigger Picture, Daisy Jacobs (UK, 8 minutes).
Two adult brothers clash over the care of their aged, infirm mother in this year's "artsy" entry. As seen in this making of, director Jacobs hand painted the characters directly onto the walls of a full-size set, with hand-crafted projections and props to create a 3D effect. Like Best Picture nominee Boyhood, the filmmaking gimmick here (which on first viewing isn't even entirely apparent) seems to be the magnet for praise (including a BAFTA) despite the stale story.
MD Rating: C-
The Dam Keeper, Robert Kondo (USA, 18 minutes).
A practical piglet oversees the dam that keeps an unnamed "darkness" out of the anthropomorphic animal village he lives in, yet he's still a bullied outcast at his school. Like its adorable porcine protagonist, the pastel animation is smudged yet winning in this heartbreaking-then-heartwarming fable (narrated by Sherlock baddie Lars Mikkelsen) of friendship and responsibility.
MD Rating: B+
Feast, Patrick Osborne (USA, 6 minutes).
The most high profile nominee thanks to its theatrical pairing with Disney's Best Animated Feature nominee Big Hero 6, this charming tale takes a "dog's eye view" of a pup's owner's love life and how it effects the pup's love life... with food. Familiar territory for a Disney cartoon yes, but its the most accomplished of the five contenders (it has already won the Annie Award) and offers the most satisfying denouement.
Watch trailer. Feast will be included as a bonus feature on the DVD and Blu-ray of Big Hero 6, available February 24.
MD Rating: A-
Me and My Moulton, Torill Kove (Canada, 14 minutes).
The middle daughter of a happy family of five is nonetheless embarrassed by her parents' bohemian nonconformity. Kove's autobiographical follow up to her earlier Academy Award winning short The Danish Poet is simply animated, universally familiar (we have all been mortified by our own mothers and fathers at some point in our lives) and unexpectedly, consistently hilarious.
Watch trailer. Watch in full at the National Film Board of Canada website.
MD Rating: B+
A Single Life, Joris Oprins (The Netherlands, 3 minutes).
A woman discovers a magical 45 record can propel her backwards and forwards to different points in her life, from childhood to old age. Cute but easily the slightest of this year's batch; how this got in over legendary Disney animator Glen Keane's joyous, lovely Duet boggles the mind even more than the much-discussed omission of The Lego Movie in the Best Animated Feature category.
MD Rating: C
Coming soon: Part 2 takes a look at the five Oscar nominees for Best Live Action Short Film.
Reviews by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.