Oscars 2011: Live Action and Animated Shorts

In order to complete my predictions, I have to dive into these categories of live and animated shorts, and more often than not I cannot access them online. So, these are all researched guesses at best. If the 2011 Oscar Shorts are playing near you, I suggest you check it out if you’re more curious. If I end up seeing them (always possible), I’ll be sure to update this post. Meanwhile, Magnolia, please don’t hesitate to email me and ask to send me a copy in the future …

Best Animated Short Film

  • “Day & Night”
  • “The Gruffalo”
  • “Let’s Pollute”
  • “The Lost Thing”
  • “Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage”

Thanks to Pixar running shorts before all their films, I have seen “Day & Night,” which was certainly clever enough to make the bunch. But, having seen most of last year’s films, I remember recalling that the Academy seemed most interested in animated style followed by concept. “Day & Night” follows a traditional style of animation and succeeds more conceptually. “The Gruffalo,” a retelling of a classic children’s book with high-profile voice actors, has a bit more animation to go along with its heart. I’d normally consider them landslide favorites, but we saw Nick Park’s “Wallace & Grommit,” who never lose, lose last year. While I’d give the edge to “Day & Night” among these traditional films, the more I read, the more “The Gruffalo” looks like the film to beat.

I was able to uncover a link to “Madagascar” online. The animation combines a variety of styles to tell of a man’s trip to Madagascar. The film is beautiful and if looks were enough would steal the Oscar, but there’s no direction or emotional heft to the story, it’s just an animated scrapbook.

“The Lost Thing” is an Australian film done in CGI about a man who discovers a boiler thing with tentacles on the beach. “Let’s Pollute” has a cartoon look, acting as a history less/public service announcement about the truth that Americans are bred to pollute. Neither seems to have the weight needed to upset a mainstream favorite.

Last year’s winner, “Logorama,” which used advertising/branding to tell an R-rated story, reminds me of “Let’s Pollute” in a way, so in my mind that’s a good choice, but I don’t know if any of these films are strong enough to overcome a more traditional short. So, I’m going to lean that way and trust some of my research.

Prediction: “The Gruffalo”

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • “The Confession”
  • “The Crush”
  • “God of Love”
  • “Na Wewe”
  • “Wish 143″

I’ve done a lot of reading on this (sort of) and it sounds like the options are not all that wowing.

“The Confession” and “The Crush” both come from Wales I believe and deal with small children and strange twists. “The Confession” is about two boys, one of whom is concerned that he has nothing to confess, so he and his friend set out to have something to confess about that goes horribly wrong. “The Crush” concerns an 8-year-old who falls for his teacher and gets “engaged” to her. She plays along, but when her real boyfriend shows up, the boy challenges him to a duel. Like, an actual duel with guns. Wonder how that ends …

We saw shorts like these last year in “Miracle Fish” about a boy who wakes up in the nurse’s office to find the school’s empty and it turns out a shooting has taken place. It didn’t win, so I’m writing those two off despite being strong films I’m sure. I don’t think the Academy has shown much interest in shorts with dramatic finales and both films appear to have them.

“Na Wewe” revisits the conflict in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsis but takes a humorous look at the situation. In it, men are pleading for their lives and the whole question of “what reason do you have for killing/committing genocide” is examined. Sounds like a mix of tones here that might not necessarily work, but it is one of the few truly foreign entries.

“God of Love” tells of a guy in a band who’s a good dart player madly in love with a woman. He’s granted “love darts” at some point and then seeks her out to snipe her down with one of his darts. The film has resonated well as one of the artsier films of the bunch.

But all the shorts are screened together in alphabetical order, so the last film, if it impresses, has a good chance to leave the most lasting impression. That film is “Wish 143,” about a 15-year-old boy with cancer who asks the equivalent of the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” for an extra special wish: to get an hour with a naked woman. Seems comical, but sexual ethics are tested to their limit when it comes to a boy who simply doesn’t have time to “wait until he’s in love” or married and wants to experience that part of life.

I’m going to lean toward that, but I could see “God of Love” as a winner too.

Prediction: “Wish 143″

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