2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 2)

For the past decade, ShortsHD has made all three of the Oscar-nominated short film programs (animated, live action, documentary) available to audiences around the world.

Animation

The animated compilation was released to theaters on February 10th, giving the public the opportunity to see the nominated entries before the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 26th.

In addition to the theatrical release, the nominated live-action and animated shorts will also be accessible online ( iTunes, Amazon Instant Video) and on VOD/Pay-per-view Platforms (AT&T, Comcast, DIRECTV, etc) starting February 21st.

The animated segment is often my favorite of the shorts programs because they are the most succinct.  They elicit both joy and sadness, sometimes in the span of 5 minutes.

I’ve ranked them in the order from best to worst.

[Side Note: How Disney’s delightful Inner Workings got snubbed is beyond me.  The animated short aired theatrically before Moana so millions saw it.  Perhaps it was too thematically similar to Pixar’s 2015 feature Inside Out.]

 

Piper
USA/6MINS/2016
Director: Alan Barillaro
 photo Piper_zpszaxfgswh.jpg
Piper was released alongside Pixar’s Finding Dory last year. Given that it made $486 million, chances are you’ve seen this one already.

Not much story to speak of. A baby sandpiper learns to overcome her fear of water. So why is this my favorite short?  1), The photo realism is rendered so perfectly that it transcends current animation. Director Alan Barillaro utilizes new technology to advance the medium forward with visuals we haven’t seen before. 2.) Its buoyant atmosphere stands out in this mostly downbeat collection of nominees.  Piper is uplifting and it made me feel better than anything in this largely depressing lot.

 

Pearl
USA/6MINS/2016
Director: Patrick Osborne
 photo Pearl_zpsd0nma7sg.jpg
A father and his daughter travel across the country in their beat up broken down hatchback affectionally known as Pearl. He’s a musician and the story follows the pair through the years as they grow older. A reflection on how our lives change and the way our talents are learned from those that mold us. A poignant tale.

Director Patrick Osborne took home the 2015 Oscar for Best Animated Short with Feast.

 

Blind Vaysha
CANADA/8MINS/2016
Director: Theodore Ushev
 photo Blind Vaysha_zpsbdbzo2no.jpg
Vasyha is born with one green eye and one brown eye. That’s harmless enough but it gets worse. A terrible curse prevents the girl from living in the present. Her left eye sees only the past. Her right, only the future. Grim fable has a clear moral. Savor the present moment! The fantasy is captivatingly odd but bleak.

 

Pear Cider and Cigarettes
CANADA & UK/35MINS/2016
Director: Robert Valley
 photo 19570_zpseubbavq8.jpeg
This nihilistic tale concerns a hard-living man named Techno Stypes. He starts out as a golden boy athlete but wastes his life away as a rabid alcoholic. Techno’s behavior soon demands he must get a liver transplant. Vancouver animator Robert Valley narrates the autobiographical tale about his childhood buddy.  

The short has the feel of a graphic novel and embraces a decidedly rock-and-roll vibe. Lots of music is played throughout. It all make sense when you learn that Valley is known for his work on the Gorillaz music videos.  Style to spare, but the story left me cold.

 

Borrowed Time
USA/7MINS/2015
Directors: Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
 photo Borrowed-Time-15-640x325_zpsyxroxcb4.jpg
An old Sheriff returns to the scene of an accident that has haunted him his entire life. Directors Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats have both worked together at Pixar so you can best believe the animation looks good.  However, this is far darker than anything that studio has ever produced. 7 minutes really isn’t enough time to properly convey the emotional depth of this grave tale.

Points for the score by Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain) though.

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7 Responses to “2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    So is Borrowed Time your least favorite? That’s interesting if the case. I can see what you mean about it not quite being enough time for the story but very emotionally resonant.
    I was surprised Pearl cleaned up at the Annies. It’s all done on these long takes which is the trend since Birdman but doesn’t ever really excite me that much. It’s a good short though with nice emotion.
    I like how different they all are. Vaysha is kind of cool because it is done by one man in Bulgaria I believe who that’s what he does all by himself is animated shorts. I liked the wood cut feel to it.
    Pear Cider felt too long. I find stories about addicts are surprisingly not that compelling because addiction is such a selfish experience. It’s hard to make it an interesting experience. But visually it was neat but I would have gone with Inner Workings or a short called Foxed over it.
    Still I’m glad the academy awards animated shorts and keeps the medium alive

    • A cartoon that features a rifle blast to the face and a near suicide? Sorry, not a fan of Borrowed Time.

      Didn’t realize Pearl did well at the Annie’s, but that doesn’t surprise me. I thought it was wonderful. I know Piper won the main award, Best Animated Short Subject. Those are my two favorites.

      The other three entries were pretty grim. Overall, I thought the animated program was weaker this year when compared to previous years. The live-action shorts impressed me more. I’m a big fan of these short categories, though. I look forward to catching these films every year and I’m glad I got to see them.

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Interesting. I liked all of them on some level but I can see what you mean. I also look forward to these each year

  2. The only one of the animated shorts I’ve seen is Piper. I found it adorable and utterly delightful. I agree with you that it deserves props for its photo realistic visuals. Of the rest, I’d probably be the most interested in seeing Pearl for its story and Pear Cider and Cigarettes for its vibe.

    • I’ve seen all the Best Animated Short Film nominees every year for the past decade. No disrespect to the individual entries, but overall 2016 was a weaker year for this category.

  3. I loved Piper. Then Blind Vaysha, then Pearl. The others were just ok.

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