AFI DOCS 2014 (Days 3&4)

The Oscar nominated Animated Shorts

It is rare that I have gotten to see all the Oscar shorts ahead of (or even after) the awards were given out. Wouldn’t it be nice if they brought back the short before the feature? Yes, I know they are mostly made either in film school or as a calling card to get a leg up in the industry or some accolades for a country that never gets mentioned at the Academy Awards, but it is a lovely form, begging a different set of storytelling skills from the long-form flick. Anyway, just sayin’ I’d like to see them in a theater, on a big screen.

And in another of those “changes” that they made for some unknown reason, voting on the winners for the shorts is open to the entire Academy membership for the first time this year, and so the makers of these usually almost unheard of and rarely seen movies are hustling to get some buzz with PR campaigns, theatrical showings and lots of postings online. And the contenders this year?

They are five very different little gems.

Adam and Dog, directed by Minkyu Lee is a simple story of the first man and his dog, romping through the primordial wilderness. It is beautifully done, but frankly I got bored.

 

Fresh Guacamole, directed by “PES”, really feels like test reel from an animation studio looking for another job. It is mostly clever visuals without a story. And I really need a story.

 

Paperman, directed by John Kahrs, is from Disney and feels it. Very sweet, nice animation, and a simple story. This is the one you may have seen, since Disney has pulled out all the stops to get the Academy voters’ attention.

 

The Longest Daycare, directed by David Silverman is all about a day in the life of a Maggie Simpson at The Ayn Rand School for Tots. It is funny and smart, just what you’d expect from the Simpsons. But having been on the air for decades may just count against it in the realm of originality.

The video below may or may not work. The Simpsons has blocked many sites. Here is the officially sanctioned teaser version. You may have already see it in full though. It had a theatrical run, opening for Ice Age 4 last summer.

 

Head Over Heels, directed by Timothy Reckart & Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, is my favorite of the bunch. This stop-motion animated student short is visually fun and has a great story. It is about a long married couple who live in the same house, though one is on the ceiling and the other on the floor. And love brings them back together.

Watch them all and let us know what you think. My review of the live action shorts is coming!

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