Eye on the Oscars: Animated Shorts

Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences narrowed down the animated short list from the original qualifying 45 to 10 titles that advanced in the Oscar voting process. In January, the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will select three to five nominees from this shortlist. The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. Here is a brief overview of the top 10 shorts:

Dimanche (Sunday)
Dimanche (Sunday)
Short: Dimanche (Sunday)
Director: Patrick Doyon
Studio: National Film Board of Canada
Synopsis: After being bored out of his mind on a Sunday, a young boy puts a coin on the railway track to flatten it.
Background: Simple animation, beautiful lines and a witty, observant P.O.V. work in favor of this charming short, which has won fans all over the world.
Website: blog.doiion.com
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Directors: William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
Studio: Moonbot Studios
Synopsis: This charming ode to the healing powers of storytelling is equally inspired by the 2005 Katrina hurricane, the silent films of Buster Keaton and a love for old-fashioned books.
Background: It’s hard not to be awestruck by what William Joyce (Robots, Meet the Robinsons) and Oldenburg have been able to accomplish in this inspired short. Mixing miniatures, computer animation and 2D, this first effort by the Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios is truly something to cherish.
Website: www.morrislessmore.com
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat
Short: I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat
Director: Matthew O’Callaghan, exec producer: Sam Register
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Synopsis: Tweety and Sylvester continue their eternal battle in Granny’s apartment in this CG-animated stereoscopic outing.
Background: Using recordings by the legendary Mel Blanc, this new Looney Tunes short is really hard to resist, especially since the CG animation is spectacular, O’Callaghan is a terrific director, and June Foray is amazing as Granny. The good news is that Warner Bros. is making several more!
Website: www.thatsallfolks.com
La Luna
La Luna
Short: La Luna
Director: Enrico Casarosa
Studio: Pixar
Synopsis: A young boy discovers his family’s unusual line of work in this charming short directed by Pixar’s gifted head of story.
Background: Another year, another beautifully produced CG short by the magicians at Pixar. However, we can’t forget that for the past few years, the shorts (Day & Night, Partly Cloudy, Presto, Lifted, One Man Band, Boundin’) have all failed to take home the Oscar. In fact, the last Pixar short that won was Ralph Eggleston’s For the Birds, all the way back in 2002!
Website: www.pixar.com
Short: Luminaris
Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella
Studio: JPZtudio (Argentina)
Synopsis: In a world controlled and timed by the light, a common man working in a light-bulb factory has a plan that could change his destiny, but things never go as expected.
Background: It’s nice to see the Buenos Aires-based animator’s latest short being recognized by festivals around the world—it has won major prizes at Annecy, Seoul and Anima Mundi—so we won’t be surprised if the Academy takes a shine to this pixilation feat as well.
Website: www.zaramella.com.ar
Magic Piano
Magic Piano
Short: Magic Piano
Director: Martin Clapp; producer: Hugh Welchman
Studio: BreakThru Films (U.K.)
Synopsis: Two kids discover an old piano amongst a pile of junk in Warsaw, which ends up being a magical, flying machine.
Background: This thrilling 3-D puppet animated short was commissioned in honor of Chopin’s 200th birthday in 2011, and is part of a longer feature titled The Flying Machine. Clapp and BreakThru worked on Suzie Templeton’s Peter and the Wolf which won the Oscar in 2008.
Website: www.breakthrufilms.co.uk
A Morning Stroll
A Morning Stroll
Short: A Morning Stroll
Director: Grant Orchard; producer: Sue Goffe
Studio: Studio AKA (U.K.)
Synopsis: Loosely based on Paul Auster’s True Tales of American Life, this inventive short tells the story of one New Yorker’s early morning encounter with a chicken.
Background: Studio AKA and producer Sue Goffe have offered animation many wonderful shorts and ads throughout the years, including the BAFTA-winning Lost and Found, Varmints and Jojo in the Stars. Orchard’s funny short really stands out thanks to its amazing mix of styles and techniques.
Website: www.studioaka.co.uk
Paths of Hate
Paths of Hate
Short: Paths of Hate
Director: Damian Nenow
Studio: Platige Image (Poland)
Synopsis: Fighter pilots face the futility and senseless nature of war.
Background: This highly accomplished effort by Nenow about the futility of war has been a festival favorite since the filmmaker presented it at SIGGRAPH last summer. The producing studio, Platige Image, has been involved with Tomasz Baginski’s Oscar-winning shorts Fallen Art and Cathedral and also delivered the visual effects for Lars von Trier’s Melancholia.
Website: www.platige.com
Specky Four-Eyes
Specky Four-Eyes
Short: Specky Four-Eyes
Director: Jean-Claude Rozec, producer: Mathieu Courtois
Studio: Vivement Lundi (France)
Synopsis: When little Arnaud learns he has to wear a pair of hideous, painful glasses, he finds he much prefers the vague world of his nearsightedness, populated with fanciful creatures from his imagination.
Background: The black-and-white short, which won the Best Animation prize at the Aspen Shortsfest, showcases an approachable style and a bittersweet perspective.
Website: www.vivement-lundi.com
Wild Life
Wild Life
Short: Wild Life
Director: Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Studio: National Film Board of Canada
Synopsis: In 1909, a dapper young remittance man is sent from England to Alberta to attempt ranching. However, his affection for badminton, bird watching and liquor leaves him little time for wrangling cattle.
Background: Forbis and Tilby’s last effort When the Day Breaks won the Palm D’Or in Cannes and received an Oscar nomination more than 11 years ago. Their 2011 effort is a beautifully crafted, traditional effort, which has been a popular festival staple since last spring.
Website: www.nfb.ca



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