With the 91st Oscars airing on February 24th, I’ll be going over the trio of short film topics and their nominees leading up to the premiere. With short films often getting overlooked (Live Action Shorts was cut from this year’s broadcast and then re-inserted after big protests) I was interested in checking out the Oscar caliber shorts making the list. It should be noted that most of the animated shorts are directed by women this year, which is refreshing. Here is the list and the short I hope wins.
Animal Behavior (2018)
Alison Snowden, and David Fine’s short is a very funny and often clever look at a group of animals seeking therapy for their normal behaviors. There’s an over eating big, a dependent parasite, a man eating mantis, and so many more fascinating characters including a dog therapist with a habit for sniffing behinds. When a rage filled ape enters the group therapy, he begins to clash with the therapist who insists that he get a handle on his habit. “Animal Behavior” garners such a great animated style, and has a hilarious sense of humor, as well as so many well rounded characters that come to life in such a small window.
Disney owns all of the animation categories, and “Bao” is likely to take the Oscar. Thankfully it’s a very good film, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Domee Shi directs this beautiful and sad tale of an Asian woman who crafts Bao dumplings one day for her and her husband. Much to her surprise one of the dumplings comes alive and before her eyes she finds a second chance to raise a baby. Along the way she confronts the normal pitfalls of parenting, including their inevitable drifting in to other interests and finding individuality. It’s a tough and sad tale about empty nest syndrome and letting go of your children, but it’s also a sweet story about family, and how much food can bond families together.
Late Afternoon (2017)
Writer and Director Louise Bagnall’s “Late Afternoon” actually broke my heart in two and made me watch it at least two more times. “Late Afternoon” is set on young Kate who gives her mother Emily (Fionnula Flanagan) tea. When her mother breaks a piece of biscuit in the tea, she’s taken back to her childhood memories. Really what it is is the journey of a woman to find herself again as she drifts in and out from Alzheimer’s. Although it’s not explicitly explained, the metaphors and imagery take us through the process of recovering our state of mind. Once she actually reaches the end of her journey, it’s a gut wrenching and emotional climax. I hope this takes the Oscar.
One Small Step (2018)
A Short I saw from “The Animation Show of Shows” in 2018, Andrew Chesworth, and Bobby Pontillas’ “One Small Step” is a heartbreaking short about a young girl named Luna who dreams of becoming an astronaut. With the help of her loving dad who aids her by mending her footwear, she experiences troubles and turmoils in the pursuit of her dreams. It’s a marvelous short tale with an amazing message.
Trevor Jimenez’s “Weekends” is a short I reviewed in 2018 and it’s a sweet and sad story a young boy’s changing world through his parent’s divorce, and the cycles of their new relationships that begin and fade away before he can realize it. Jimenez’s short is told with no dialogue and explored through actions and subtle scenery changes, and is more a look at how much adjusting is needed in a world where one’s parents are separated and consistently looking for a new direction in their lives.