In December, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the titles advancing to nomination voting for the 90th Academy Awards Best Animated Short Film race. Plucked from the 63 submitted qualifying films, the top 10 will be whittled down to five nominees by the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members, to be announced January 23.
Devon Manney, director
Produced By: USC School of Cinematic Arts (U.S.)
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award (Silver Medal: Animation – Domestic)
Official Selections: Aesthetica Film Festival, AnimaSyros Festival, St. Cloud Film Fest 2017
Synopsis: Returning to the U.S.A. after losing both arms overseas, a young veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics, and memories of his pre-war life while reaching for a sense of normalcy. A hint of children’s book illustration and digital-chalk pastels counterbalance the weight of the story.
Glen Keane, director & Kobe Bryant, writer
Produced By: Gennie Rim; Glen Keane Prod. (U.S.)
Qualifying Release: Theatrical, Los Angeles
Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival
Synopsis: L.A. Laker legend Bryant’s inspiring retirement poem is hand-drawn to life by veteran animator Keane and swelled by stirring music from Oscar-winning composer John Williams. The star-powered short speaks to the game of basketball through Bryant’s gratitude and love for the sport that changed his life.
kobebryant.com | glenkeane.com
Fox and the Whale
Robin Joseph, director & producer
Qualifying Release: Theatrical, Los Angeles
Awards: Fastnet Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, ReelAsian Film Festival, Sene Film Festival, VIEW Conference 2016
Synopsis: Blending 2D and 3D elements into a rich and painterly digital world, this tale of pursuit and longing follows a curious little fox as he goes in search of an elusive whale. Kim Leow, Joseph’s partner, created the CG character animation while the director handled everything else.
Victor Caire & Gabriel Grapperon, directors
Produced By: MOPA – L’École de la 3D (France)
Additional Directors: Florian Babikian, Vincent Bayoux, Theophile Dufresne & Lucas Na
Qualifying Win: Nashville Film Festival (Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize)
Awards: FICCI Frames, Future Film Festival, Hamburg Animation Award, SICAF, SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival, Spark Animation, et al.
Synopsis: Brought to life with impeccable CG animation, the short follows a couple of adventurous amphibians exploring a deserted manor house. The courtship of Frog and Toad milks an impressive amount of characterization out of the film’s photorealistic aesthetics.
In a Heartbeat
Esteban Bravo & Beth David, directors
Produced By: Ringling College of Art and Design (U.S.)
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award (Gold Medal: Animation, Domestic)
Awards: European Cinematography Award, HIMPFF, Lake View Int’l Film Festival, Out Here Now, NCGLFF, Trinity Film Festival
Synopsis: A shy, red-haired boy is dragged along a fateful race when his heart literally leaps out of his chest to chase down his dreamy crush. A viral smash-hit upon its YouTube release, the short uses bubblegum-bright CG and an all-ages, relatable story about first love with a positive LGBTQ message.
Chenglin Xie, director
Produced By: China Central Academy of Fine Arts
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award (Gold Medal: Animation, International)
Official Selections: DC Shorts Film Festival, San Francisco Int’l Film Festival, Spike & Mike’s, Sundance Film Festival, Zlin Film Festival
Synopsis: It’s the revenge of the smartphone zombies in this darkly comic, refreshingly cartoon-y short that explores device distraction accidents. The digital obsession is highlighted by blank textured backgrounds filled only by the objects and people in each character’s immediate personal bubble.
Lost Property Office
Daniel Agdag, director & Liz Kearney, producer
Produced By: 8th in Line (Australia)
Qualifying Win: Sydney Film Festival (Yoram Gross Animation Award)
Awards: AACTA Award, Dendy Awards, Melbourne Int’l Film Festival
Synopsis: Agdag’s meticulously hand-crafted cardboard world revolves around a thorough and practical man named Ed who manages the Lost Property Office. When Ed realizes he’s been made redundant, he decides to re-appropriate his cherished lost objects and bid his basement post a whimsical farewell.
Dave Mullins, director & Dana Murray, producer
Produced By: Pixar Animation Studios
Qualifying Release: Theatrical, with Cars 3
Official Selections: San Francisco Int’l Film Festival, SXSW
Synopsis: Lou is a collaged creature made up of unclaimed items in a school’s Lost and Found box who collects left-behind objects after recess each day. When a bully starts taking other kids’ toys, Lou leaps to their defense — but discovers compassion is better than punishment. Composer Christophe Beck (Trolls, Frozen) composed the score.
Ru Kuwahata & Max Porter, directors
Produced By: IKKI Films (France)
Qualifying Win: Anima Mundi (Grand Prix)
Awards: 3D Wire, Anima Cordoba, Annecy Int’l Animated Film Festival, Busho Film Festival, Encounters Film Festival, KROK Animation Festival, Pixelatl, Turku Animated Film Festival, et al.
Synopsis: A dad who is always heading out the door for a business trip teaches his son how to pack a suitcase in this bittersweet, meditative blend of stop-motion and CG animation, adapted from Ron Koertge’s original poem. The directors sought out visceral, tactile materials to key into their childhood memories of sight, sound and touch.
Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer, directors
Produced By: Magic Light Pictures
Awards: Annecy Int’l Animated Film Festival, BAFTA Children’s Award, European Animation Award, Shanghai Int’l Film and TV Festival, Banff World Media Festival
Synopsis: A spoofy family comedy which takes beloved author Roald Dahl’s rhyming reinventions of classic fairytales and reinterprets the classic Quentin Blake illustrations into peppy, charming CG animation. The BBC movie features the voices of Rob Brydon, Bertie Carvel, Gemma Chan, Tamsin Greig, David Williams, Rose Leslie and more.
Magiclightpictures.com | triggerfishstudios.com
The 90th Oscars will be held March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, broadcast live on ABC U.S. and more than 225 territories worldwide. More info at oscar.go.com.