(*homocinematically inclined)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Short Cuts 2020, Part 1: Oscar's Animated Short Film Nominees

For the 15th year, ShortsTV presents this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films at a theater (starting January 29th) or streaming platform (starting February 4th) near you. These special programs are usually the only way for most movie fans to see all of these otherwise illusive short film nominees that can make or 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 Film.

Family relationships dominate the bulk of this year's 'tiny toon' contenders, with three stop-motion independent shorts vs. two higher profile 2D productions, all from first time nominees. Notably, no computer animated works were nominated this year, a first in the category in some time.

And the nominees are...

Dcera (Daughter), Daria Kashcheeva (Czech Republic, 15 minutes), trailer.

With her father hospitalized, a daughter looks back on their complicated relationship. Using papier-mâché puppets and mimicking live action techniques such as handheld camera movements and rack focus, this Student Academy Award winner captures a raw, almost documentary-like style that nonetheless fails to mask it's uncompelling story.

MD Rating: 6/10

Hair Love, Matthew A. Cherry & Karen Rupert Toliver (USA, 7 minutes), clip.

On a very special day, an African American father tries to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. A Kickstarter record-setter released theatrically by Sony Animation with The Angry Birds Movie 2, this sweet story effectively mixes a little drama in with the comedy, creating a charming, crowd-pleasing tear-jerker fit for any family.

MD Rating: 7/10

Kitbull, Rosana Sullivan & Kathryn Hendrickson (USA, 9 minutes), trailer.

An unlikely friendship develops between a scrappy stray kitten and a gentle-souled pit bull. A rare 2D project from  Pixar (via their "SparkShorts" program), this dog-and-cat tale has an atypically darker edge to it as well which, unfortunately, is undercut by an oddly abrupt happy ending.

MD Rating
: 6/10

Mémorable, Bruno Collet & Jean-François Le Corre (France, 12 minutes), clip.

An aging painter, lost in dementia, finds himself untethered from reality, drifting through an increasingly surrealistic world. An award winner at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival, this stop-motion tour de force is a post-impressionistic feast for the eyes, only slightly hampered by its familiar scenario.

MD Rating: 7/10

Sister, Siqi Song (China/USA, 8 minutes), trailer.

A man relates his childhood memories of growing up with his annoying younger sister in 1990s China. Also a BAFTA and Annie Award nominee, this black and white stop-motion award winner is filled with flights of fancy laced with absurd humor that suddenly gives way to a harsh, emotionally wrenching reality. The best of the bunch, by far.

MD Rating: 9/10

Coming soon: Reviews of the Oscar nominees for Best Live Action Short Film and Best Documentary Short Subject.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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