By Don Simpson | February 9, 2012
Thanks to a very lucrative theatrical run with last year’s crop of short films, we will have the opportunity to see this year’s Oscar® nominated short films as they tour around the United States beginning on February 10, 2012. For the location(s) nearest you, check out the The Oscar® Shorts website. Also note that a majority of the featured cinemas will screen the live-action and animated shorts in two separate programs.
Here is our rundown on the five animated short films that have been nominated for an Oscar® this year. The competition pretty much boils down to two contenders: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and La Luna. On an interesting side note, Wild Life is the only film in this category that features discernible dialogue.
Also make sure to check out our post on this year’s Oscar® nominated live action short films.
Director: Patrick Doyon
Every Sunday, a young boy must go to church with his parents; afterwards, they drive to his Grandma’s house. Its a pretty boring day, especially for a kid. The only noteworthy events are when a dog gets run over by a car, a bear gets run over by a train, and a fish gets its head lopped off by Grandma’s knife. I’m not exactly sure why — the events in Sunday are fairly absurd and nonsensical — but I guess I can safely surmise that no real animals were injured (or killed) during the making of this film.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Directors: William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg
This 15-minute animated film harkens back to the glory days of the silent film era when stories were conveyed purely by visuals. (The Fantastic Flying Books will probably appeal to fans of The Adventures of Tintin, The Artist, Hugo, and UP.) Serving as an emotional reaction to Hurricane Katrina, Morris Lessmore is swept away to a black and white world by a horrible storm. The storm blows all of his books away except for one and that remaining book has been rendered wordless. As Morris spends more time in this strange new world, he learns about the restorative powers of literature. His surroundings become more colorful and vibrant as he spends more time in this land of flying books — some of which cleverly communicate their feelings via the photos on their pages.
Director: Enrico Casaroasa
A tale of young boy who goes out to sea on his virginal foray with his father and grandfather to their family job, La Luna is a starry dreamscape of a coming of age story. In this Disney/Pixar production, there is no recognizable dialogue, the three characters merely grunt and mumble at each other; so, again, the narrative is left to the images to communicate. In this case, the lack of language makes the story one that the entire world can enjoy.
A Morning Stroll
Director: Grant Orchard
In 1959, a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll. Fifty years later, a “stereotypical” modern New Yorker (with Smartphone in hand) walks past a chicken. Another fifty years later, a post-apocalyptic zombie walks past a chicken. Ummm… What? Other than its all-too-blatant critique of modern day New Yorkers, it seems A Morning Stroll merely intends to relish in its unique brand of absurdity.
Directors: Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby
An Englishman moves to Alberta in 1909 to establish a new life as a rancher. (Intertitles curiously compare him to a comet that has been flung out to the far reaches of space.) He lives in a secluded little hut, but his letters home to his father tell a much different story. Animated in bold, impressionistic brush strokes, Wild Life paints a very lonely picture of an early settler of Canada. Wild Life is the only Oscar® nominated animated short film with dialogue, which seems quite ironic since it also relies upon intertitles (traditionally a narrative device used in silent films) to help tell its story.
For more information, go to The Oscar® Shorts website.