Eric here with a look at the animated shorts. If you missed previous nominated shorts coverage, Glenn investigated the documentary options, I looked at the live action shorts, and Nathaniel interviewed the director of Sing.
Pros and cons and predictions after the jump...
Blind Vaysha tells the parable of Vaysha, a young girl in the country who is born seeing the past out of her left eye and the future out of her right eye, never able to see in the present. This strange little saga, ripe with metaphors, features an original and disturbing look: it’s like medieval icon painting come to animated life. It works, and the film is both heavy and heavy-handed in equal measure.
Pro: Unique and disturbing.
Con: Overly dark?
Borrowed Time was made and developed as part of Pixar’s Co-Op Program, and it looks and feels very much like a Pixar project. That means visually, it looks fantastic, and this one has a sad underbelly as it probes a man on the brink of suicide. You can’t fault the artistry, but the narrative feels incredibly forced, and it seems to fall unsuccessfully between commercial and personal.
Pro: Visually pleasing.
Con: Grade-school dramatics.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes is the longest of the films at 35 minutes (the others are all under 10 minutes), and it’s a slog. Done in a neo-noir style, it’s a ponderously-narrated tale about the life of an on-the-edge alcoholic and daredevil. The story is filled with needless detail, the female characters are sketched (literally) with dangerous objectivity, and it wallows in tiresome machismo.
Pro: Cool factor?
Con: Unpleasant, with a repetitive script and lumbering pace.
Pearl chronicles a father and daughter relationship, centered around a car and music. It’s all a bit idealized, but the movie has a sweet lingering effect that could sway voters. The animation has a nice squareness and fluidity to it that separates it from the standard smoothness we usually see. It feels like a personal movie made by your favorite hipster friend.
Pro: Warm and light.
Con: Not enough there there?
[Editor's Note: Pearl's nomination and awards to date surely come from its technological inventiveness. But in traditional screenings such as the travelling shorts collection that moviegoers were able to buy tickets to, and that Eric attended, you cannot see its 360º pleasures. The ideal way to screen it is online where you can engage with its interactivity. Clicking on the arrows will give you more and more details about the story as you can spin the camera all around the car to see the back seat, the passenger seat, etcetera. I interrupt this article to share this information because in a conversation on the most recent podcast, cut for its length, I had realized that Katey and Nick had also only just seen it through the traditional screening route and were unaware of the whole other movie they were missing. -Nathaniel]
Piper, Pixar's short that was screened before Finding Dory this past summer, is about a newborn bird who must learn to feed and fend for itself. It's cute, it looks like a million dollars, and it will likely win this award, especially in the midst of weak competition. But are we a little bored with these predictable Pixar shorts yet?
Pro: Winning and professional.
Con: Typical Disney narrative.
Will win: Piper. While it was a huge and happy surprise to see the independent Bear Story beat Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team last year, it’s unlikely one of these titles will pull ahead this year. This is no knock to Pixar, who do amazing work when they’re firing on all cylinders. But Piper lacks that extra bit of inspiration you expect from a winner.
Look out for: Pearl. It has an outside shot.