Review: 2015 Oscar Nominated Live Action and Animated Shorts

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The shorts nominated for the Academy Awards in live action and animation are a diverse collection of film. From inspiring and funny to grim and haunting, there is a wide range for movie fans. Here is the run down.

 

Oscar Animated Shorts

 

Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove) – 14 minutes/Canada/English: One summer in mid-’60s Norway, a seven-year-old girl asks her parents if she and her sisters can have a bicycle. Me and MyMoulton provides a glimpse of its young protagonist’s thoughts as she struggles with her sense that her family is a little out of sync with what she perceives as “normal.”

Me and My Moulton features a sweet middle child who goes through the motions of everyday life in her small Norwegian town until the bike she wants changes everything. Viewers get to know her, the family and the cultural components of her country. However, I didn’t care and was waiting for the moment involving the bike.

 

 

 

 

FEAST

 

Feast (Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed) – 6 minutes/USA/Non-dialogue: Feast, a new short from first-time director Patrick Osborne (Head of Animation, Paperman) and Walt Disney
Animation Studios, is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share.

 

Feast is the short that appeared before Big Hero 6. Like the dog we watch, this short is playful and scrappy. Currently the front-runner to win the Oscar, this has a lot going for it; the Disney branding, the awareness, creative storytelling, and the uber cuteness factor. Expect this to probably win.

 

The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees) – 7 minutes/UK/English: “You want to put her in a home; you tell her; tell her now!” hisses one brother to the other. But Mother won’t go, and their own lives unravel as she clings on. Innovative life-size animated characters tell the stark and darkly humorous tale of caring for an elderly parent.

 

A fascinating use of stop motion animation, The Bigger Picture is a refreshing and a unique viewing experience for thoughtful audiences. The dark issues of a parent’s death is grim and the impending health haunts the movies. This emotionally gripping and irksome short packs a lot of artistic flair and effective drama into a 7 minutes running time.

 

 

A Single Life (Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen) – 2 minutes/The Netherlands/Non-dialogue: When playing a mysterious vinyl single, Pia is suddenly able to travel through her life.

 

This amusing and lighthearted tale of the aging process is really about never being content with your current stage in life. The animation never lived up to the imagination. It says a lot without dialogue. And what a perfect ending!

 

 

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The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi) – 18 minutes/USA/Non-dialogue: The Dam Keeper, tells the tale of a young pig encumbered with an important job, and the meeting of a new classmate who changes everything. Set in a desolate future, one small town’s survival is solely due to a large windmill dam that acts as a fan to keep out poisonous clouds. Despite bullying from classmates and an indifferent public, the dam’s operator, Pig, works tirelessly to keep the sails spinning in order to protect the town. When a new student, Fox, joins Pig’s class, everything begins to change.

 

WOW! A pig that is picked on in grade school befriends a fox. The job of a dam keeper is to keep the darkness away and his personal problems keep him distracted. This is a beautiful metaphor how bullying can hinder a community. I think little kids will respond to this movie. I think we have our Oscar winner! At least I’m rooting for it.

 

 

*There’s always one animated short that should have been nominated and that’s Duet about a boy and a dog in a starry blue-sky setting. It is stirring and magical!

 

Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts

 

Parvaneh (Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger) – 25 minutes/Switzerland/Dari and German: A young Afghan immigrant travels to Zurich where she encounters a punk named Emily.

Coming of age drama drags a bit, but has intimate moments of personal development. You are rooting for the protagonist to succeed and find herself. The leading performance was understated and effective in its tenderness. They form a strong friendship despite the unlikely circumstances.

 

 

boogaloo

 

 

Boogaloo and Graham (Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney) – 14 minutes/UK/English: Jamesy and Malachy are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Raising their tiny charges, declaring themselves vegetarian and dreaming of running a chicken farm, the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family. Starring Martin McCann, Charlene McKenna, Riley Hamilton and Aaron
Lynch.

 

Setting in war-ravaged Belfast in 1978, Boogaloo and Graham is a humorous tale of children taking care of their pet baby chicks. It is a tender story of a family and how children adjust to changes. There are comical moments (involving a chicken dinner) to an intense one (involving a shooting) that this movie balances quite well without manipulating our emotions.

 

Aya (Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis) – 39 minutes/Israel and France/English, Hebrew, Danish: Two strangers unexpectedly meet at an airport. He mistakenly assumes her to be his assigned driver. She, enchanted by the random encounter, does not hurry to prove him wrong.

 

Unfortunately, Aya was my least favorite of all the shorts. It was a slow character study more about the driver than the traveler. The dialogue meanders and I found the circumstances to be unbelievable. It wasn’t very engaging. Too long for its own good. I could see other people like this one. It just wasn’t for me.

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The Phone Call (Mat Kirkby and James Lucas) – 21 minutes/UK/English: The Phone Call follows Heather, (played by Oscar-nominee Sally Hawkins), a shy lady who works at a helpline call
centre. When she receives a phone call from a mystery man (played by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent) she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.

 

Sally Hawkins is so focused and reserved within the tango of tension over the phone as she counsels a grief stricken, suicidal man (Jim Broadbent). This is a solid contender and will likely win considering the drama and the name recognition. It is very well done, but I didn’t care for the ending, which didn’t really go anywhere.

 

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) (Hu Wei and Julien Féret) – 15 minutes/France and China/Tibetan: A young itinerant photographer and his assistant offer to photograph some Tibetan nomads in front of various backgrounds

 

Winner of the Grand Jury award at AFI Festival, this vivid and lively narrative is about various cultural tribes in Tibet. For something that is essentially a few scenes of people standing still to have their picture taken (or being fidgety), it is fascinating filmmaking. This is my favorite and the one I want to win the Oscar.

 

Which one will win? Find out on February 22nd!

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About Kenny Miles

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.

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