2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 3)

ShortsTV has made the Oscar-nominated short films (animated, live-action, documentary) available to audiences since 2006. The 17th-annual theatrical rollout of films nominated in the live-action, animated, and documentary short categories begins February 25. To learn more about the participating theaters and how to purchase tickets, visit the website here. The program will play in theaters only for the first four weeks. They then will be released to VOD via iTunes, Amazon, Verizon, and Google Play beginning March 22.

ANIMATION

Family-friendly entries have long dominated this category for decades. However, this year’s selection of animation shorts came with a boldface warning: * for mature audiences only. They’re not kidding. With one exception, the collection of nominees this year is NOT for children. I was originally dumbfounded when Us Again from Walt Disney Pictures somehow failed to get a nom on the morning of February 8th. It now makes perfect sense. Unlike 4 out of the 5 nominees, it doesn’t feature nudity. First time since 2009 that Disney is omitted from the Top 5. Nothing from Pixar was nominated in this category either. I’ve ranked these shorts in order of their ability to inspire. It was difficult.

BOXBALLET
RUSSIA | 15 MIN | 2019
DIRECTOR: ANTON DYAKOV

A lithe ballet dancer and a hulking boxer meet and fall in love. Obviously, Olya and Evgeny live in two very different worlds and this chronicle explores that contrast. Opposites attract. The idea may be as old as time itself. There are no words. The intersection of the worlds of their realities is purely visual. Their tour of an art museum à la Ferris Bueller is delightful. A 1986 song called “Balance” by Soviet new wave group Kofe is now my current jam. Olya makes a questionable decision. Meanwhile, the boxer behaves admirably. The portrait is intellectually unsophisticated, yet it has a whimsical style that ultimately champions love so it’s hard to resist. I suspected these two might have a future together right at the outset. Simplicity is the short’s greatest asset.

ROBIN ROBIN
UK | 31 MIN | 2021
DIRECTORS: DAN OJARI, MIKEY PLEASE

A young robin –appropriately named Robin — is raised by a family of mice. She questions where she belongs and sets out on a fearless journey to figure it out. Robin meets a materialistic magpie who tells her about Christmas. It’s worth mentioning actress Gillian Anderson purrs seductively as a cat. The title character is cute but I’m more fascinated by what makes the single dad mouse tick. He’s admirably raising four child mice and a bird all on his own. The chronicle is a heartfelt, sweetly rendered fuzzy-felt creation that really takes a lot of time to tell a predictable tale. At 31 minutes, it’s double the length of the other nominees in this category, but it’s also the only one you can show your kids. This Christmas special from Aardman Animations is a co-production with Netflix. Aardman has been nominated 8 times in this category and won 3. Their last win (in this category) was 26 years ago in 1996 for Nick Park’s claymation short A Close Shave featuring Wallace & Gromit. Prognosticators are predicting that animators Dan Ojari and Mikey Please will change that this year.

BESTIA
CHILE | 16 MIN | 2021
DIRECTOR: HUGO COVARRUBIAS

Based on a true story, a woman works for the secret police of Chile in 1975 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Her intensely close relationship with her dog suggests a highly disturbed individual. This demonic woman trains her German shepherd to do unspeakable acts. To be fair, it’s unclear what this unsettling short is really trying to teach us. It prompted research on my part. I learned things I wish I hadn’t. To present depravity without the historical context of who Íngrid Olderöck was, renders this short incomprehensible at best and exploitative at worst. Hey, I’m well aware there is unmitigated evil in the world. I suppose I wasn’t prepared for a stop motion cartoon to capitalize on the idea.

THE WINDSHIELD WIPER
SPAIN | 15 MIN | 2021
DIRECTOR: ALBERTO MIELGO

A man sits inside a cafe, smoking a pack of cigarettes, and ruminates over the question “What is love?” He is merely a framing device for a collection of fragmented vignettes ostensibly presented to provide an answer. A woman wearing nothing but a bikini bottom sits next to her fully clothed boyfriend at the beach. Two Tinder users in a grocery store inadvertently select one another on the app — oblivious they are standing side by side. A homeless man is captivated by a mannequin. A woman commits suicide by jumping off a building. This may be director Alberto Mielgo’s first Oscar nomination, but he is well regarded in Hollywood. The animator is known for his visually distinctive contributions to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and the adult animated anthology TV series Love, Death + Robots (2019). The hyper-realistic animation featured here uses keyframe software to animate characters into digitally painted backgrounds. I wish the heady visual style — which resembles rotoscoping or motion capture — had something interesting to say. It’s a nihilistic view of relationships by someone who has seemingly never been in a positive one.

AFFAIRS OF THE ART
UK/CANADA | 16 MIN | 2021
DIRECTOR: JOANNA QUINN

Beryl is obsessed with drawing and holds determinedly grand artistic ambitions. This is filmmakers Joanna Quinn and Les Mills’ fourth short starring the 59-year-old working-class Welsh housewife and the first to get nominated. In Beryl’s latest adventure, we are introduced to her eccentric family. The depressing lot provides a window into Beryl’s unpleasant personality. It begins and ends with her husband descending a staircase nude à la Duchamp. As a child, her sister Beverly abuses animals like a future serial killer. The hand-drawn character designs are grotesque which matches the subject matter I guess. Originally, I thought the nadir was when Beverly tortures a mouse to its eventual death on a toy train set. The short manages to go even lower. She later gets into taxidermy and stuffs the family dog — through the rectum. Absolute dreck.

02-17-22

2 Responses to “2022 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 3)”

  1. Robin Robin and Box ballet were the only two I enjoyed. They other 3 were not good. Animation seems to be taking dark turns. I don’t like it. Where’s the fun?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As someone who watched a lot of animated shorts last year, these films are not representative of what’s currently happening in animation.

      The Oscars have gone out of their way to honor the fringes of the genre.

      Like

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