Special Event: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019: Animation
February 10, 2019 9:14 AM - Subscribe

ShortsTV presents a theatrical release of the five Oscar nominees for Best Short Film, Animated, plus two "highly commended" animated shorts.

Where to see it in theaters

Available streaming/on demand starting February 19

Previous MetaFilter thread about shortlisted films in this category

Reviews of all nominees: NPRThird Coast ReviewBoston GlobeCinefiles (all shortlisted films in this category)

Bao (nominee) [USA, 8 min.]

A Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from empty nest syndrome gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.


• Reviews: The Review GeekLaughing Place

Article about audience reactions

Late Afternoon (nominee) [Ireland, 10 min.]

An elderly woman drifts back through her memories. She exists between two states, the past and the present.


• Reviews: SimbasibleRTEShort of the Week

Animal Behaviour (nominee) [Canada, 14 min.]

Animated anthropomorphized characters in a therapy session.


• Reviews: Cinema AxisSolzy at the MoviesSimbasible

Interview with creators David Fine and Alison Snowden

Weekends (nominee) [USA, 15 min.]

The story of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents. • websitetrailerIMDb

full film [Kanopy, membership in participating library required] •

• Review: Short of the Week

• Interviews with creator Trevor Jimenez: VarietyIndieWireAnimation Scoop

One Small Step (nominee) [USA/China, 8 min.]

The story of Luna, a Chinese-American girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut.


• Reviews: Short of the WeekSimbasible

Interview with creators

Wishing Box (highly commended) [USA, 7 min.]

A greedy pirate attempts to force his food-obsessed monkey to wish for gold to come out of the magical box.

Facebook pagetrailerIMDb

Tweet Tweet (Чик-Чирик) (highly commended) [Russia, 12 min.]

Our life is like walking on a tightrope. In times we are scared or lost we lose balance. When we are happy and excited we forget we walk on a rope. We can even fly!


• Review: The Independent Critic

Interview with creators
posted by Eyebrows McGee (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(Once again posted on behalf of DevilsAdvocate who is putting together the Oscar shorts posts!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:14 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Overall a strong group of films this year. (As is my custom, I saw these in the theater, along with the Live Action shorts.)

Bao was more than a bit predictable - cute, but . . . . (I can be grumpy and cynical, though, especially about shorts where the filmmakers have some leeway to take risks and then . . . don't, so 1) it'll probably win and 2) most folks will probably like this more than I did.)

Late Afternoon, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for in an animated short - a unique style, creative use of the medium leading to an interesting way to tell a story. (A particularly relevant story for my age cohort.)

Having never participated in group therapy, it felt like I was missing about half of the humor of Animal Behavior, like there was no small number of inside jokes where people who've experienced the thing will go, "Oh yeah, I totally recognize that." But the parts I "got" were funny.

Weekends is my winner - a slice-of-life about being the child of divorced parents in the '80's, with a great animation style.

One Small Step also leaned a bit towards the sappy/predictable, but the film earned its emotional weight and had some subtle touches while operating in a more "standard" style of animation, which can be tough to do. Also, of course, nice to see a POC woman be the main character, and in a story about science and accomplishments rather than romance.

Wishing Box was the straightforward funny film. Well done, nothing particularly special.

I don't know how I feel about Tweet Tweet. I like the idea of "life as a tightrope" as a metaphor to hang a film on, but . . . you don't see anything of the people but feet, and the animation of same hovered a little too close to Uncanny Valley for me - realistic flesh tones with cartoonishly-exaggerated shapes. I think the film spent too much time on the early years and rushed through the later part of her life, which made it unclear for quite a while that the story was that of someone old enough to be my grandmother. And the rushing through the post-WWII years, while undoubtedly politically necessary for the filmmakers, did wind up giving me a bit of a sense of "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" propaganda. The bird was oddly enough a big sticking point for me - I still have no real idea why it was there, and I'm pretty sure that little birds like that don't live for 80+ years, so seeing the bird throughout the protagonist's whole life kept jerking me out of the film.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:23 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

The animators behind "Animal Behaviour" made the 1993 classic Bob's Birthday, so I imagine it's probably pretty good. The trailer does look amusing.

(If you've never seen "Bob's Birthday," it's well worth a watch. I had no idea what to expect the first time I saw it, and I ended up laughing so hard I literally had tears in my eyes. Of course, this probably means I'm a terrible person. "It's not your fault. They ARE boring.")
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:41 AM on February 13, 2019

Just back from seeing these. They're all good, but it's a little disappointing that the themes are so similar - makes it hard for the individual films to stand on their own merits. So, I'd probably feel differently about some of these if they were in a field of choices that were more different from each other.

Weekends is a clear winner I think - it's so particular to the place/characters, the animation is really effective and has some very memorable moments (candlehead boyfriend). And man, effective use of that Dire Straits song.

Bao in second place - of course it's perfectly done, in that almost-too-perfect Pixar way. But the mom eats the dumpling, which rescues it and elevates it to something really special. That's a great moment, really well handled i think, and even if some other aspects are too tidy, it will stay with me. This is another one where the specificity really helps it, makes it feel like its own thing -- it didn't feel like "here's a generic allegorical parent/old person" in the way the parents in Late Afternoon and One Small Step did a bit, and Tweet tweet did more so. It felt more like she's a person with her own stuff happening, who could make mistakes and be human.

Probably Late Afternoon in third, because the animation is good and is doing more stuff you can only do with animation (as opposed to One Small Step which is lovely but could have been live action)... but oof, I feel like there's one of these tearjerkers about dementia every year. Argh. This did have some really nice moments.

One Small Step is lovely and cute but suffers, maybe because the dad is the more interesting character than the daughter, and once he's gone, we don't care as much what happens. (Which I mean, it's kind of true in real life, but I don't think that's what the movie is saying - "kid, now that your dad's gone, even walking on the moon will feel sort of empty")

Animal Behaviour is pleasing because it's its own thing, and got a boost because it was thematically and visually so different, but I wanted the ending to be stronger. It felt like it kind of petered out a little.

Agree with you soundguy99 about the honorable mentions - the magic monkey short was cute, it had an idea and did that idea and out, good. Tweet tweet, it gets a bunch of stuff right, but yeah, too much uncanny valley and unmotivated stuff for the sake of the tearjerker. The bird was cute and I wanted to like it but yeah, it needed someone to give harder feedback at some point in the process, to change some of these decisions (eg maybe just make it clearer the bird is somehow a supernatural entity that exists outside of time, rather than a bird-bird?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:44 PM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

February 19th has come and gone but none of the shorts appear to be available either for download or streaming.
posted by DanSachs at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2019

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