following the Oscars

I'm not normally one to keep up with the Oscar's each season. In high school, I thought it would be interesting to follow one of my favorite teacher's examples and, each year, watch all of the nominees for Best Picture before the big night. However, I have an uncanny knack for forgetting Oscar season is coming up, and then running out of time, money, and motivation.

This year is different. I subscribe to the (free!) daily New York Times e-mail update and get great awards season coverage at nytimes.com. Ian and I have seen two of the Best Picture nominees: The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire. I'd highly recommend both. However, I'm worn out from politics and have no motivation to watch Milk. As much as I admire Kate Winslet, I don't want to see a movie full of "sexual intensity" as they bill the The Reader. So I'm taking a cheaper and less time-consuming approach by getting into the Short Film, Animated category. Two of the five nominees, I can't find anywhere in full version. They are, however, all recapped here at nytimes.com. The three I have seen are great!

My favorite, and not just because I love Pixar, is Presto, a short about a magician's bunny and what can go wrong when you perform hungry. When we saw it in the theater, I was laughing so hard I cried. It's an ingenious idea and the perfect length at around 5 minutes. The action builds at a perfect pace, the characters are endearing, and, as always, Pixar nails the animation. Definitely worth the $1.99 on iTunes to own this (or get the Wall-e DVD)!

image via themoviedb.org. watch on YouTube ($1.99).

I hope Presto wins, but I can't recommend enough the French short Oktapodi. The story follows two octopuses in love as they race for their lives. The animation is great, and the story is fantastic. Again, the action builds well, it's a great length, and there's a delightful twist at the end. I'd say more, but it's free and online, so I'll just let you watch it for yourself.

image via themoviedb.org. watch on the movie website.

Finally, Ian and I found, on YouTube, the Russian short Lavatory Lovestory, about a bathroom attendant attempting to discover her secret admirer. It's much longer, clocking it at right under 10 minutes. The story is cute and I love the animation style, but I felt it dragged on a bit long and would have benefited from a little cutting. However, I still enjoyed it, and you can feel cultured watching a Russian film (without the language barrier!).

image via themoviedb.orgwatch on YouTube.