Thursday, March 1, 2018

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Animated Short

The nominees:
Dear Basketball (B)
This adaptation of a letter Kobe Bryant wrote to the NBA officially declaring his retirement is not the typical focus for a nominated short. The visual interpretation of his ode to the thing that he loves is pretty incredible, with hand-drawn animation bringing all of his formative experiences and dreams to life. For those not invested in Bryant’s career or in the sport, this film does its best to capture the incredible attachment he feels to basketball and what retiring truly means for him.

Garden Party (C+)
Don’t let this short’s title fool you: this isn’t a normal party. This French film follows the amphibian residents of the inside and outside of a rich home where very little seems to be happening and plenty is decomposing. It’s not worth ruining its ending, but this short is relatively unappealing and only moderately engaging as its protagonists make typical animal noises and crawl around an abandoned mansion.

Lou (B+)
Here’s Pixar’s contribution to this year’s lineup, the film that played before “Cars 3” during its theatrical release. As usual, it’s a sweet story of an unlikely transformation, this time about a bully who is reminded of his humanity by the monster living inside a lost and found box in the school playground. It’s simple and endearing, and very hard not to like.

Negative Space (B+)
This stop-motion French short is simple in its presentation but its content is considerably more layered and deep, with a special emphasis placed on the value of space. An adult son’s recollections of how he bonded most with his well-traveled father over being taught how to efficiently pack a suitcase are made all the more poignant by the realization that those moments were their most substantive together. The animation, particularly the folding of the clothes, is marvelous.

Revolting Rhymes (B+)
This short is the length of the other four combined, adapting poems from the Roald Dahl book of the same name. Featuring recognizable voices like Dominic West, it begins with a wolf sitting in a restaurant and telling the woman with him an intermingled story of Red Riding Hood and Snow White. It’s fresh, creative, and not as revolting as the title would have you think despite some unpleasantness, and definitely a productive and commendable effort.

Previous winners: Piper, Bear Story, Feast, Mr. Hublot, Paperman, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Lost Thing

Who should win: I wouldn’t vote for “Garden Party” or “Dear Basketball,” but any of the other three would be fine. I’d probably pick “Lou.”

Who will win: I think it’s between Lou and “Negative Space,” and I’ll choose the former for now. I’ve seen in the past that this category can be wildly unpredictable, so it could honestly be any of them, though probably not “Garden Party.”

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