The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016: Animation (2016)
February 23, 2016 7:20 PM - Subscribe

Shorts HD presents a theatrical release of the five Oscar nominees for Best Short Film, Animated, plus four "Highly Commended" animated shorts.

Where to see it in theaters; or, view it streaming or on demand (although there are reports some of the streaming/on demand services do not include the full set of films).

Sanjay's Super Team*clipIMDb
World of Tomorrow*trailer (with links to rent or buy) • IMDb
Bear Story* (Historia de un oso) • websitetrailerIMDb
We Can't Live without Cosmos* (Мы не можем жить без космоса) • trailerfull filmIMDb
If I Was God+trailerIMDb
The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse+Facebook pagetrailerIMDb
The Loneliest Stoplight+trailer (with links to rent or buy) • IMDb
Catch It+Facebook pagetrailerIMDb
Prologue*Richard Williams talks about Prologue (brief animation clip at 1:08) • IMDb

*Oscar nominee
+"Highly commended" film

Oscar nominee Prologue is shown at the end of the program due to violence and nudity.
posted by DevilsAdvocate (9 comments total)
This was a more uneven bunch than either the Live Action Short nominees or the Documentary nominees this year, I thought — even taking into account only the five Oscar nominees.

Sanjay's Super Team: A Pixar short which was released in front of The Good Dinosaur, although I hadn't seen it before. I enjoyed the story of religion across generations, as well as the lush, vibrant animation during the fantasy sequence.

World of Tomorrow: From Don Hertzfeldt. A third-generation, time-travelling clone travels back to impart information and wisdom about the state of the world to her original self — a very young "Emily Prime." I loved the juxtaposition of future clone Emily's matter-of-fact description of a dying world with young Emily Prime's innocence and unconcern about the state of the future world. I also loved the simple line-drawing animation of the characters contrasted with the abstract representation of the "outernet."

Bear Story: A heartbreaking story of a bear separated from his wife and child, who creates an elaborate mechanical diorama telling a fictionalized version of his own story. From Chile, the story is emblematic of families separated under the Pinochet regime. From the director's statement: "Bear Story leaves some questions unanswered. What happened to the bear’s family? Where are they? These are the same questions that thousands of families ask themselves, who up to this day still don’t know where their loved ones ended up. I hope these questions never need to be asked again."

We Can't Live without Cosmos: Two cosmonauts, boyhood friends (or possibly brothers) go through training together. One is selected for a mission. Very nicely done, I though.

If I Was God: Primarily stop-motion film about a boy on the cusp of adolescence, imagining God-like powers. I found this completely dull — basically a story told in voice-over narration, and then animated, and not a particularly interesting story at that.

The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse: Cute story of a fox and a mouse, initially with the fox as predator and the mouse as prey, who in time work together. Fairly short, and a pleasant if not outstanding story, and I liked the animation style.

The Loneliest Stoplight: Bill Plympton film, narrated by Patton Oswalt, relating the story of a single lonely stoplight. Nicely done, and the post-credits scene cracked me up.

Catch It: A group of meerkats battle a vulture for a pomegranate. The animation was done in a style reminiscent of the Ice Age movies, which didn't appeal that much to me.

Prologue: A technically accomplished film, done all in pencil (as the film not-so-subtly informs us at the start), with a sparse and effective use of color, but there's hardly any story there.

My choice: I found World of Tomorrow completely charming, but it's probably a long-shot to win.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:21 PM on February 23, 2016

World of Tomorrow is absolutely stunning. It's on Netflix, if you're reading this and haven't watched it yet, and it's the best 15 minutes I've spent in a long time.

DevilsAdvocate, I think (or at least hope) it might have better odds than you think - it's been getting a whole lot of very positive buzz.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:29 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was thrilled to see Bear Story get nominated this year. I was surprised it wasn't nominated last year and couldn't figure out why-- apparently because it wasn't eligible yet! I like Hertzfeldt a lot too, but it's not like he needs the attention (though next to Pixar, he's practically an underdog).
posted by thetortoise at 9:41 PM on February 23, 2016

Of these I've only seen "Sanjay's Super Team" and "World of Tomorrow". The former is pretty neat but I loved the latter.
posted by brundlefly at 11:56 PM on February 23, 2016

Probably worth noting that "Prologue" has full-frontal male nudity and graphic violence. (I saw the shorts program in the theater, and there was a big announcment at the beginning and another right before they showed the film as the last one of the evening.)

I'd assume the peen is NBD for most readers of Fanfare, but the violence is definitely graphic - I've got no problem with it myself, heck, some of my favorite flicks are full of graphic violence, and a couple of bits made even me lean back and go "Whoa."

But otherwise I'll second DA - a technically impressive film with little story. It seemed like maaaaaaybe it was kind of trying to make a point about how violence expands or continues from generation to generation, but maybe not. Maybe the point was just to do high-quality high-violence animation by hand.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2016

Sanjay's Super Team: cute and clever, visually very impressive. Probably the winner.

World of Tomorrow: Fan-fucking-tastic. Totally original, even for Hertzfeldt, a great mix of feelings and moods and unique visuals. The loopy borderline-surreal dialogue makes me wonder if there wasn't a "found art" element to the film - like they taped a series of "conversations" with a four-year-old, and then edited those conversations and added more adult dialogue to create a story, and then animated it.

Bear Story: Also excellent, moving and heartfelt without descending into sappiness or sentimentality (which is often an issue, IMNSHO, with animated films.) Visually inventive.

We Can't Live Without Cosmos: Nicely done but a bit long.

If I Was God: The website for the film calls this "darkly whimsical", which sounds about right to me. OTOH, despite some clever ideas, the story is kind of nothing we haven't seen before, and herky-jerky stop-motion animation isn't really my thing.

The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse: Pretty pedestrian "aminals R frands" story, but really impressive animation with the fur and the blowing snow and the water and the movement of the animals. Almost more of a demo for a technical accomplishment than a strong standalone film.

The Loneliest Stoplight: It's Plympton, you either like his style of animation or you don't. I like it, myself, but while it wasn't a bad story I'm used to . . . . . weirder/darker things from him. This was Plympton making a "family-friendly" film. I wouldn't say it's Oscar-bait, specifically and intentionally, but if Sanjay doesn't win, this probably will, if only as a sort of "about time" Lifetime Achievement win.

Catch It: Not bad, but pretty standard-issue CGI animated comedy, visually and story. Not a US film, but if you'd told me it had been a Dreamworks or Blue Sky short I would've believed it.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:49 PM on February 25, 2016

The loopy borderline-surreal dialogue makes me wonder if there wasn't a "found art" element to the film

That's exactly how they did it -- see e.g. the AMA linked in the comments to the World of Tomorrow thread.

(...and Hertzfeldt was robbed, of course. But then "It's Such a Beautiful Day" wasn't even nominated, so it's not exactly news that the academy has no idea what they're doing...)
posted by effbot at 4:26 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, thanks, effbot, I had completely missed the earlier FanFare thread about World of Tomorrow.

I'm not too disappointed to see Bear Story win, as that would have been my second choice behind World of Tomorrow. Albeit a distant second.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:51 PM on March 1, 2016

I know a lot of people around here feel that Hertzfeldt got robbed, but would it be okay if I asked everyone to be a little kind about the selection? I was a big supporter of Bear Story before it made it to the US so I feel kinda personally excited about this one even though I'm not connected to the production or anything.
posted by thetortoise at 10:07 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

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