Monday, February 13, 2023

Short Cuts 2023, Part 1: Oscar's Animated Short Film Nominees

For the 18th year, ShortsTV presents this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films where they should be seen, at a theater near you, beginning February 17th (watch the trailer here). In the first of three parts, Movie Dearest takes a look at this year's five nominees for Best Animated Short Film.

Unlike last year's nominees, there's only one instance of nudity here... and, based on the titles, it's not where you think.

And the nominees are...

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Matthew Freud & Charlie Mackesy (UK/US, 32 min.), trailer.

The titular foursome meet in a snow covered forest and become an unlikely family. A beautifully realized parable of life, love and cakes, the simple story delivers lessons of exceptance, both of others and of oneself, with an elegance that overcomes any potential triteness. The trio of name-actors who voice the animals – Tom Hollander, Idris Elba and Gabriel Byrne, respectively – help capture the tale's A.A. Milne qualities, particularly Hollander as the dessert-loving mole. Just lovely.

Oscar Connection: In addition to the Oscar, this short is nominated for a BAFTA Award and seven Annie Awards.

MD Rating: 9/10

The Flying Sailor, Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby (Canada, 8 min.), trailer.

Meet Charlie Mayers, a Halifax seaman who survived the 1917 boat explosion that stripped him naked and sent him flying over two kilometers. His death-defying experience is compellingly visualized in this "based on a true story" Sundance winner (from the venerable National Film Board of Canada) that leans a bit too much into the "life flashing before your eyes" trope.

Oscar Connection: Forbis and Tilby were previously nominated for their shorts When the Day Breaks (2000) and Wild Life (2011), and Tilby was also nominated for Strings (1991).

MD Rating: 6/10


Ice Merchants, João Gonzalez & Bruno Caetano (Portugal/UK/France, 15 min.), trailer.

A jarringly long-legged man and his young son live precariously on the side of a mountain, skydiving daily to the village below to sell ice. The most surreal of this year's nominees, this Cannes Film Festival award winner may be a little too odd, but the sweet affection shown between the father and son is endearing enough to keep it whimsically unpretentious.

Oscar Connection: The first Portuguese film to be nominated for an Academy Award.

MD Rating: 7/10


My Year of Dicks, Sara Gunnarsdóttir & Pamela Ribon (US/Iceland, 26 min.), trailer.

An intrepid teenage girl sets out to lose her virginity in 365 days or less. Riz Ahmed hilariously uttering the words "my year of dicks" on Oscar nomination morning instantly made this the contender to watch... at least first. The tale may be familiar, and the resolution obvious from the get go, but its creative mixture of styles (from arthouse to anime to horror flick) and sharp wit elevate it to one of the funniest teen comedies in years.

Oscar Connection: Ribon, whose memoir Notes To Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public is the basis of this short, also worked on the Oscar nominated animated features Moana and Ralph Breaks the Internet.

MD Rating: 8/10

An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe Him, Lachlan Pendragon (Australia, 11 min.), trailer.

An underachieving office drone inadvertently stumbles upon the revelation that life is not at all what it seems. Just in case you didn't get it from that comically long title, this is a wacky meta-commentary on the futility of existence told through stop motion animation... as it is being animated. Despite its overused setting, this is a clever romp into satirical absurdity.

Oscar Connection:Winner of this year's Student Academy Award for Animation.

MD Rating: 7/10

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

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

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