Oscars 2010: Animated and Live Action Short Films


Short films are on the rise. There have always been short films and most feature filmmakers got their start by making short films since they’re easy on the pockets if you’re an amateur, but in our YouTube video society, there’s an interest in short films. You can find virtually anyone’s short film on the Internet including some of our Best Animated Short Film nominees. The live action shorts are not as accessible. I don’t know why, but I think it’s because they’re a bit bigger of a deal. Either way, closer to March 7 you should be able to download/rent on iTunes and some theaters even show all the shorts as Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International have recently began the tradition of grouping them together for a theatrical release.

Anyway, short films are perfect for the attention span of today and they usually are more clever or profound than many full-length works because they’re working with less time. They have to pick a great concept and executed it cleanly and most of these films do that. What’s more, especially the animated films, they are very similar to the classic cartoons of back in the day. Just think about all the Pixar shorts you’ve seen over the years and how clever/cute they are. Many of these (at least the animated ones) are similar.

So here’s to the short film — the part of the Academy Awards nearly everyone ignores. Join me in watching these films so that you can make the telecast a bit more meaningful. I’ve provided links to every video I could find (all animated shorts), so enjoy! For more information and some clips of everything, go to the official shorts site

Best Short Film, Animated

  • French Roast (watch)
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty (watch)
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte) (watch)
  • Logorama (watch)
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death

These films are a lot of fun this year, but will any of them be able to defeat four-time Oscar winner Nick Park, creator of the Wallace & Gromit short films and master of claymation? I grew up loving Wallace & Gromit, the goofy bald man and his intelligent canine companion Gromit who always bails him out of trouble. We would watch them in grade school all the time, namely Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers and Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave. Since those films, however, Park has taken a break from Wallace & Gromit short films. In that time he’s made two feature films, 2000’s Chicken Run and the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit movie “Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” the latter of which I’m sorry to save I’ve yet to see.

Now Park returns to what he does best: stop-motion short films. I haven’t seen “Matter of Loaf and Death” because the popularity of the franchise keeps those works off of YouTube, but I’ve no doubt it’s top-notch and clearly the favorite. Park has won four Oscars and has been nominated for five — the fifth Oscar was for the first Wallace & Gromit and it lost to … his own film, Creature Comforts.

The two throwaways in this category are great films but simply don’t measure up. Granny O’Grimm from the folks at Brown Bag Films is a bit of a YouTube sensation. “Sleeping Beauty” is one of many hysterical films featuring the psychotic Irish granny. It’s funny and the animation terrific, but it’s solely made for comedic impact. In it, Granny tells a horrifying bedtime story to her granddaughter that loaded with her own personal grievances about life in general. The other film is the very Looney Tunes-ish La Dama y La Muerte. Very gorgeous, it starts to tell the touching story of an old woman who has lost her husband and wishes to follow him. Death comes to claim her in grim reaper form, but doctors and nurses at the hospital constantly find a way to revive her. That ticks Death off, as you’d imagine. Clever and cute, but lacking that emotional message almost entirely.

My personal favorite of the films I’ve linked to is French Roast. A man in a coffee shop realizes he has forgotten his wallet to pay his tab. Instead of ‘fessing up, he continues to drink coffee so that he delays having to pay. During that time he tries to rob an old woman of enough to pay the tab. A dirty beggar is also in the mix. Not only is it funny, but it is also a satire about economic class. Is it enough to fend off a Wallace & Gromit film? Not sure.

The film getting most of the interest, however is the French-made Logorama. The filmmaker has taken countless logos from our society and created a world made entirely of them. The characters are trash-talking Michelin Men cops, a renegade Ronald McDonald and a foul-mouthed Big Boy among others. I’m not sure I really took home the message implied by the obvious social commentary and I thought a few parts were a bit too crude, but nonetheless it’s very interesting.

Prediction: Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Short Film, Live Action

  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish (watch)
  • The New Tenants

At the moment I’m stuck speculating here, which I’m not thrilled with. If I find a way to watch these films, I will come back and delete these paragraphs you’re reading and replace them with more knowledgeable information. From what I have gathered, it appears this lineup is not nearly as strong as year’s past.

From what I’ve read, The Door is the frontrunner. The film brings the aftermath of the Chernobyl explosion to a more personal level. It starts with a man running and flashes back to how he, as a father, deals with the 1986 event right after it happened.

The people’s choice award, so to speak, has gone to the one comedic film of the bunch, Instead of Abracadabra. It is about a Napoleon Dynamite-esque loser who is a magician still living with his parents. One trick goes wrong and he accidentally stabs his mother. He’s also trying to bring some magic into his life when he meets the girl of his dreams.

Kavi has drawn some Slumdog Millionaire comparisons taking place in India and being about a boy who’s forced into labor when he just wants to play cricket with other kids. Definitely a more social issue awareness film with some attempt to pull heartstrings toward the end.

Miracle Fish is about another child who is a victim of bullying, goes to hide in the school infirmary and falls asleep, only to wake up and find the building empty. This was the only film, as you can see, that I found a link for (click the link and scroll down to find the film). The Aussie film might be one of the more intriguing and well-made films of the bunch and could compete with The Door. I wasn’t amazed by it, but it’s certainly interesting.

The last film has a couple of standout actors (Vincent D’Onofrio and Kevin Corrigan) that have garnered it some attention. The New Tenants is about two men who have just moved into an apartment where the strange history of the apartment’s previous tenant is about to cause them some unfortunate luck. The short is a dark comedy full of crazy mayhem whose payoff has been getting mixed reviews.

Prediction: The Door


    1. That’s awesome and so nicely written. Generally I tend not to make comments on post on blogs, But I have to give you props on this one. Nice post

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