SPECIAL EVENT: REVIEWS OF ALL FIVE OSCAR® NOMINEES FOR
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM OF 2005
AVERAGED WIP FOR ALL FIVE FILMS: $9.00
When Seen: 27 February 2006
Where Viewed: Starz FilmCenter, Denver, CO
Time: 8:10 p.m.
Review Dedicated to: Katie D. of Princeton, NJ via Chicago, IL via New Haven, CT
Animated Short Film: Badgered
According to Oscar.com this is the first Academy Award nomination for Sharon Colman producer of Badgered. This simple line drawn animated film tells the brief tale of a badger who dwells in a den that looks rather like a cross-section of a stomach where his main intent is to sleep peacefully. Two crows disturb him constantly. Eventually, he gets the biggest disturbance of his life when his hilltop is used to house…well, that would be giving away too much and this is a short film in the first place. Let’s just say I found (a) the animation unimpressive, (b) the story line had potential but ducked out in the end, (c) the crows get what they deserve?, and (d) this film to be a bit shallow all in all. I apologize to the artist creativity involved, but I did not find this short animated film to be very good. The lazy badger, after all, wasn’t a very compelling protagonist. Therefore, I hardly cared whether he got a good night’s rest or not.
Animated Short Film: The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
There are a lot of clues in the film that led me to believe this animated short was based on real events, but I have no verification of that. First, I would argue this was not an animated short film. It has some live action spliced in as well as some still photography. Meanwhile, the animation is rudimentary. This might sound weird or snobby, but I really don’t see the point of making an animated film animated just to make it animated. Does that make any sense? My point is that there are some worlds or idea or concepts where an animated film makes a lot of sense. For example, how would they have made Finding Nemo as a live action film? Fish don’t talk, and think how much trouble Kevin Costner had on top of the water in Water World. Now imagine trying to do all of Finding Nemo under the water. Ok, so The Moon and the Son could have been filmed live action, probably for less money, and told the same story and gotten the same points across. Basically, the story is about a son that has some problems with the kind of person his father was—though he spends a lot of time sounding more surprised by his imagined father’s posthumous answers to his questions than really angered by them. Well, suffice it to say, I really did not care for this film. I certainly empathized with the narrator son--his father sounds like a terrible good for nothing type of person, but this film really did do much for me. It certainly wasn’t as good as the other nominees.
Animated Short Film: The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello
Ok, now we are talking. Cool animation. Very cool. Stylistic unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The animators have created this nearly two dimensional, shadowy, Rube Goldbergesque world of crazy machines for these people who live on an island in the sky. The people travel from place to place in airborne flying machines that require a navigator, in this case, Jasper Morello. Meanwhile, the population is being decimated by a virulent plague. Jasper, who was responsible for the death of a crewmate in his most recent voyage where he apparently messed up the readings of the compass by 1-degree, gets called back to go on one more very perilous expedition. Along the way, the crew of the ship encounters some thing far worse than King Kong. All in all, I really enjoyed this film. It was creative in every way. The animation was slick and new and fit the story and the work. It was great that they were able to make this at all, it sounds incredibly complex and it was. The voice actors were also great!
Animated Short Film: 9
9 may have been the shortest of the nominated films--I didn’t time them, and I had trouble tracking down the times from other sources—however, it was one of the best when it came to story, imagination, and visualization of the beautiful yet dark 3Desque CGI animation. The setting appeared to be post-apocalyptic with the main character being a very new creation as if assembled from garbage with sort of a gunny sack shape for a body and head and tar for blood. Each little new being created is numbered on the back which then conveys his name, identity, and distinctiveness This is a silent film, so the characters interact and exchange information in a mostly non-verbal fashion. Ultimately, 9 and his pal 5 face the ultimate threat of the junkyard, a dastardly creation that resembles a mechanical werewolf of sorts. I thoroughly enjoyed this animated short from start to sad conclusion. It really spoke to me, and I felt more emotion out of little number 9 than out of the live action characters interspersed in The Moon and the Son.
Animated Short Film: One Man Band
One Man Band was more of the ‘traditional’ new age CGI short animated films that have come out of the Pixar® studio such as Gerry’s Game and For the Birds. This time, we have a young and tiny girl with a big gold coin which she had guided to the town square fountain presumably to make a wish and toss it in. Also in the square, however, are two one man bands that subsequently attempt to get the little girl to give them the coin. What ensues is a semi-humorous bout of one-ups-manship with an entertaining conclusion. The animation is superb. The story has just a few cracks. And, the overall effect is good. Still, the film doesn’t really expand on the technique nor, again, was this a story that really needed to be done this way. Overall, I thought it was good but not great.