We did make time, however, to keep our tradition of watching the Oscar-nominated animated shorts. In fact we were more successful this year than the past two years (2009 and 2010) thanks to a Coolidge Corner Theatre showing of all five plus two highly commended shorts.
Day and Night — Pixar is always solid, and this has a great message about not fearing the unknown. It reminds me of Dr. Seuss's "What was I Scared of?" The animation and soundtrack also were brilliantly unique.
Let's Pollute — This project involved several Pixar people, so, as you can imagine, it's a solid short, conveying a green message using a little reverse psychology. Like educational promo spots, it encourages Americans to keep up our great heritage of pollution by purchasing more than we need, treating everything as disposable, and not thinking twice about our actions. The treatment and humor make this unforgettable. (This is Ian's favorite.)
Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage — One of the most artistically stunning shorts in an elite collection, it incorporates everything from watercolor to embroidery to toy cars in it's portrayal of the creator's interaction with a foreign culture. This is a journal entry - more like a poem or snapshot than a story, but it is beautiful and I wouldn't be surprised if the Academy awarded this for the artistry.
The Gruffalo — A charming children's book turned into a British television special, it's a fun story about a mouse outsmarting all of the predators he runs into during his search for nuts. The clay animation is lovely, and the humor, both in dialogue and in animation, is endearing. However, the competition is tough, and I'd be surprised if this came out on top.
The Lost Thing — This wistful tale follows a young man who finds a lovable lost thing and tries to get it back to where it belongs. It has a moving story, beautiful animation, and a haunting message about what we miss when we're too busy to notice the little things. This is my favorite (but just barely — they are all so good).
The highly commended shorts were also entertaining. "Urs" was beautiful but the story was slightly depressing. "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger," on the other hand, was hilarious while still communicating the danger in blindly pursuing what society pushes (while channeling The Story of Ferdinand). The credits reassure viewers this isn't just vegetarian propaganda, as each contributor's dietary preferences are listed under their names and they eat meat.
We've also actually seen a few of the Best Picture nominees: Inception, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, and Winter’s Bone. We enjoyed and would highly recommend all of them, but I have my fingers crossed for The King's Speech — the acting and the story were both brilliant. I haven't left a theater that content in a long time. (We also saw the documentary Wasteland which was incredible.)
Have fun watching the Oscars, and may the best films win.
*update: we were right — The Lost Thing took home the Oscar!
2009 | 2010