and the 2018 nominees are...

the coolidge

This is Ian and I's tenth year following the Oscar-nominated animated shorts. We had to improvise a bit this year, since a family vacation meant we wouldn't be able to catch them at the Coolidge before the awards show (we still plan to go, and it will be our eighth at the Coolidge). Even though we cobbled it together (thanks to Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix) I'm so glad we're still able to enjoy our longest family tradition (I can't wait until we can include Lucy!). Our prediction record is now 3 for 7, counting just the years we've seen all the animated shorts. Fingers crossed we can bump up our batting average this year.

Dear Basketball — Kobe Bryant's love letter farewell to basketball is now animated by Glen Keane, with a score by John Williams. The loose hand-drawn animation and beautiful music tell a moving story of love and dedication, and how to say goodbye. This short is a heavy hitter and a serious contender, but I wonder how the Academy will vote in light of #metoo and the shadow in Kobe's past.

Garden Party — Frogs have full reign of an empty mansion, and their exploration slowly reveals the story of the home's desertion. Impressive photorealistic animation brings to life this dark comedy.

Lou — A playground bully terrorizes his classmates and steals their toys, until an unlikely hero takes a stand. As always, Pixar tells a beautiful story, that feels especially timely: how to stand up to a bully in a way that makes a lasting change and ends the cycle of abuse. This is our pick to bring home the Oscar!

Negative Space — Many fathers and sons bond over cars or sports, but this father and son bonded over packing suitcases. A sweet and poignant story told beautifully with stop-motion animation, its power comes from what it leaves unsaid.

Revolting Rhymes — An animated adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, this is a deliciously twisted retelling of Snow White and Red Riding Hood, with the Three Little Pigs tossed in as a sub-plot. The storytelling successfully evokes Roald Dahl's dark and quirky style, and the animation felt like the perfect complement. I don't want to ruin the ending, but we'll be watching part two in the very near future (available on Netflix) and I will never look at a fur coat in the same way ever again.

Highly Commended Shorts (updated after our annual viewing at the Coolidge)

Lost Property Office — A man takes his job running lost and found for a metropolitan transit service very seriously, but all his hard work is not appreciated. The set and animation is breathtaking and showcases intricate model building, almost at the expense of the story. But by the end it poignantly addresses our choices as we face and respond to adversity.

Weeds — Dandelions are trapped in a withering patch of dirt, but across a brutal, scalding driveway is a promised land full of sprinklers. The metaphor is not subtle, but seeing the strength, hope, and bravery of this flower in its attempt to escape death and reach a better life is inspiring and moving. (Taking a politically charged storyline and inserting it into a completely different context in hopes that a fresh perspective can recapture empathy and humanity reminds me of District 9.)

Achoo — Every year in ancient China, dragons compete to perform a fire-breathing show at the New Year's celebration. One little dragon with a runny nose and no fire has to get creative to compete against the bullies. A creation story for fireworks, this short felt a bit underdeveloped in story and animation.

As always, we appreciated 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 Lou, but Dear Basketball took home the Oscar.

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