A Second Glance at 2016’s Oscar Animated Shorts

Time seems to be the central theme of the animated shorts for the Oscars this year, as all of the animated shorts have some semblance of the theme of time. Most of the shorts spend their story examining the beauty of the past and the present, while others examine the tragedy of the past, the present, and the future. As with most years at the Oscars, you won’t always find typical animated entries, but this year’s crop have been quite special and incredibly thought provoking. I take a second glance at the shorts this year, and what I am voting to win come February 26th.

Blind Vaysha
One of the many evocative shorts of the year, “Blind Vaysha” is a unique fairy tale adapted by Theodore Bushev. It tells the story of a young girl named Vaysha born with a left eye that sees only the past, and a right eye that sees only the future. Despite villagers convinced she is under some spell, Vaysha is forced to live a life with powers that are both a gift and a burden. With unbearable knowledge of the future, and the serenity of the past, Vaysha is forced to endure her ability, while the tale asks us to figure out how we would want to live if we were Vaysha, and if we live our lived consumed by thoughts of the future, or dwelling in the past.

Borrowed Time
Another short film from animators at “Pixar,” this is a tragic and heartbreaking tale about time and how the past can dictate how we grow in to adults. “Borrowed Time” is a sad tale of an elderly sheriff who visits the cliff his father died on one horrific day. Clutching his father’s time piece he recollects the fateful day involving an attack by bandits and his dad’s premature death. The amazing animation matched with the simple story makes it a tear jerker worth experiencing.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Robert Valley’s short is the longest animated entry of the contenders and he offers a tale of his best friend Techno. “Techno” was a man who lived life in the fast lane, with booze, women, extreme sports, and eventual tragedy involving motorcycle crashes, drugs, and alcohol. Valley’s short is a fantastic and often engrossing story about living fast and dying young, and how he was pulled in to the downward spiral that was “Techno” and his life. The animation is wildly original and depicts a man who had everything to offer, but never found anything to live for. This would have my vote to take home the Oscar.

Pearl
One of the most technically advanced shorts featured in the year’s category, this is yet another short about time and family. This time we visit a traveling man who roams the country with his young daughter. Using music to get them through hard times, they live in their car, finding the beauty of life through their love for one another. As she begins getting older and drifting away, she decides to experience life once again with her dad in their beloved car. This short was filmed with a 360 degree capability for those with the capability. Without the function, it’s still a riveting film.

Piper
Sure to win this year, “Piper” is the shorts that played before “Finding Dory” when the movie played in theaters. It doesn’t have much substance, but it does pack amazing animation and a simplistic narrative. “Piper” revolves around a sand piper who is exploring nature and learning to part from his mother. “Piper” is about the wild blue yonder and learning to face the harsh world. It’s going to win, we know it’s going to win, but it’s a very good short just the same.