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.
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.]
Director: Alan Barillaro
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.
Director: Patrick Osborne
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.
Director: Theodore Ushev
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
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.
Directors: Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
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.