and the 2017 nominees are...

the coolidge

This is Ian and I's ninth year watching the Oscar-nominated animated shorts (our seventh at the Coolidge). It's hard to believe we've kept the tradition for so long (and next year we'll need a babysitter...), but we look forward to it every year! Our prediction record is now 3 for 6, counting just the years we've seen all the animated shorts.

Borrowed Time — A weathered old lawman returns to the scene of a tragic accident from his past, and faces the event that has haunted him his whole life. This is a heartwrenching story of a father and son, balancing beautifully between past and present, and the animation is flawless (I'm still astounded at the felt hat in the opening moments). This is our pick to take home the Oscar.

Pearl — This short follows the lives of a musician father and his daughter, exploring the tension between pursuing your dreams and raising a child. A 360 video by Google, the entire story plays out from their old beloved car, and if you watch it with Google Cardboard you're sitting in the car with them.

Piper — A young sandpiper must learn to hunt for food along the shoreline. But after a traumatic first encounter with the waves, it takes a mother's tough love and the beach-smarts of two tiny crabs to convince the little piper to brave the ocean again. With stunning animation and Pixar's talented storytelling, this is an incredible short and I wouldn't be surprised at all if it wins.

Blind Vaysha — Vaysha is born with one eye that can only see the past, and another eye that can only see the future, rendering her blind to the present. The woodblock print animation is definitely unique, but the short was very didactic. How do you choose between remaining stuck in the comforting past or seeing only the terrifying future? While the point may have been to live in the present, I felt very disconnected from the story.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes — Techno Stypes, the director's childhood friend, lives on the edge. After two debilitating accidents, he spirals out of control and winds up stuck in China, waiting for a liver transplant. A tragic story told in the style of a graphic novel, this is an impressive short (and definitely warrants the "not suitable for children" warning). 

Highly Commended Shorts

The Head Vanishes/Une tête disparaît — A woman takes a day trip to the seaside, blissfully unaware that her mind isn't quite where it should be. This is an entertaining yet poignant story about aging and dementia.

Asteria — Two astronauts plant their flag in a new planet, only to be challenged by strange beings who arrive with their own flag. The hilarious twist at the end of this short was a fantastic surprise.

Once Upon a Line — In a two dimensional world, a man's monotonous days are forever changed when he meets a woman. But when the romance fades, he has to wrestle with what he truly wants in life. The line animation and use of color in this short is utterly charming!

As always, we enjoyed all of the shorts, and highly recommend catching them if you have the opportunity. Have fun watching the Oscars, and may the best films win!

*update: we predicted Borrowed Time, but Piper took home the Oscar. I'm bummed our batting average is now below .500, but I loved Piper too so I can't say I'm disappointed. The little bird's post-wave face twitch is one of my all-time favorite animated short moments...

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