THE OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2014: ANIMATION Review

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Film Pulse Score

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Release Date: January 31, 2014 (limited)
Directors: Various
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 8/10

For the last several years before the Oscar telecast the short films that have been nominated for an Academy Award are given a rare theatrical release.   Presented as separate programs for each short category Animation, Live Action and Documentary, moviegoers have the opportunity to see the shorts that in the past they would seldom ever get to see.   For some it’ll give them a leg up in their office Oscar pools.  Outside of knowing that these films are nominated it can be kind of exciting for a filmgoer because you never know what’s in store and this year’s selections were no different.

This year’s selection of nominees represents the old school and the new school of animation.  A pair of traditionally animated shorts, two computer animated pieces and a short that is a hybrid of both schools make up the worthy nominees vying for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

Possessions (Director: Shuhei Morita) is a Japanese anime that brings to life an ancient legend.   A lost traveler/handyman seeks refuge from a rainstorm and finds a home nestled deep in the forest.   It isn’t long before he begins to have some strange encounters within.    This is an entertaining anime that seems like a mash up of characters from a Miyazki film stuck in an Obayashi environment.   It’s well animated and directed and features solid sound design and voice work.

Room on the Broom (Directors: Max Lang & Jan Lachauer) is a computer animated tale based on the children’s book written by Alex Scheffler and Julia Donaldson; she also co-wrote the screenplay.   The longest film in the group will likely leave one wanting more when it ends.  The film features an all-star cast which includes Gillian Anderson, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall and Simon Pegg as the narrator.  The story is simple but whimsical, it’s often funny and it features a great score by Rene Aubry.

Mr. Hublot (Directors: Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares) is a computer animated short whose look is comparable with that of many computer animated sci-fi feature films.  The short is a sweet and touching look at how a person with OCD allows his world to be shaken up when he takes in a stray puppy.   The look of the city and its denizens is very unique and quite engaging and despite its mechanical nature it has plenty of heart.

Feral (Director: Daniel Sousa) is traditionally animated with watercolors which gives it a very haunting look and feel.  A feral child is found in the woods and is brought up in the city.  In time despite the change of environment his nature begins to come forth.  Well written and directed, this is an engaging piece of animation.  In terms of animation this one is easily the best of the lot.

Get a Horse (Director: Lauren MacMullan) is a highly enjoyable short that blends all traditions and is the likely the front runner for Oscar gold.  The shortest film in the bunch unleashes the most bang for your buck.  MacMullan’s short serves as a celebration of animation from its humble beginnings to where animation is now.  It’s often funny, ingenious in its execution and truly gives one great appreciation for the medium.   In it Mickey Mouse goes out, the rest you’ll have to see for yourself.

The animated shorts are beginning to play around the country as part of a compilation.  Check your local listings to see if it is playing in your city.   The Oscars will be handed out on March 2nd.