Billy Soistmann

The Oscar-Nominated Short Films

In 2009, Awards, Magnolia, Reviews, Shorts on February 25, 2010 at 11:42 AM

This year I was fortunate enough, once again, to be able to the see the Oscar-nominated short films on the big screen. I live in Delaware, so I’m not stuck in the middle-of-nowhere, but it is still difficult to find any non-mainstream films in my are. Lucky for me, the only independent cinema in my area, Theatre N in Wilmington, decided to show the Oscar-nominated shorts again this year.

There are two programs – one for animated and one for live-action – which are put together by Shorts International and distributed by Magnolia Pictures. It’s a great experience to be able to see so many films in the theater in one day. I had a great time watching these wonderful little films. So, what did I think?

Animation

French Roast (France, 8 min):

This was my least favorite of the bunch. The animation was good and the story was humorous, but I didn’t find it really entertaining. It wasn’t that funny and didn’t fit together very well. The camera movement was great, though. The movie consists of one shot that shifts based on what is going on at that moment. It is a nice touch made possible by the computer animation and the short format. Although not bad, I wasn’t impressed.

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty (Ireland, 6 min):

This was a hilarious short. Granny O’Grimm loses the plot as she tries to tell the story of Sleeping Beauty to her granddaughter. Her version of the beloved fairy-tale was great, and the granddaughter’s reaction was terrific. The mix between CG and traditional animation worked very well, although the CG was a bit lacking. Overall, this was an extremely funny short.

The Lady and the Reaper (Spain, 8 min):

I loved this one. The story was a bit macabre, but charming at the same time. The character design was excellent with all three main characters being awesome. I especially admired the reaper character, with his square features. The adventure was fun, with a surprisingly funny ending.

Logorama (France, 16 min):

Now this is a crazy movie. Composed almost entirely with logos, I originally thought this was a statement about consumerism in America, and it basically was, but with violence and language. In the movie, Michelin Man cops are on the hunt for the psychopathic Ronald Macdonald. The innovative use of hundreds and hundreds of logos was astounding and I have no idea how they got permission to use all of them. This was a very enjoyable, albeit strange, movie experience.

A Matter of Loaf and Death (UK, 30 min):

Wallace and Gromit are back. This time, someone is murdering bakers one by one. I love the comedy in this series. The slapstick and Rube Goldberg-esque antics in the movie are great. Also, this serves as a fun whodunit, although the answer isn’t too hard to figure out. The animation and set-design in this movie are fantastic. This is definitely the best-looking film of the bunch.

Live-Action

The Door (Ireland, 17 min):

This is a deep movie about loss and perseverance after a tragedy. It centers on a family forced to evacuate Pripyat after the Chernobyl disaster in ’86. This is definitely the most emotional film of the group and is very somber in tone. I thought the movie was terrific, but not my favorite.

Instead of Abracadabra (Sweden, 22 min):

This was by-far the funniest short film nominated. It focuses on Tomas, an aspiring magician who still lives with his parents. The entire movie is filled with hilarious moments and the cast if great, especially Jacob Nordenson, who plays Bengt, Tomas’ ashamed father. The film is also an insightful character study of a man plagued by desolation. You really care for this lovable loser by the end of the movie, and you even become embarrassed for him when he fails.

Kavi (USA/India, 19 min):

This was a good story that was never fleshed out. Sure, the plot continued to a conclusion, but I felt that this movie could be expanded into a feature with not much effort. It was a good story, shot well, that leaves only a little impact on the viewer. Overall, I’m on the fence with this one.

Miracle Fish (Australia, 17 min):

This is another weird little movie. What starts out as a day-in-the-life of an ordinary kid quickly turns. I don’t want to give anything away, but this movie definitely caught me off guard about half-way through this film. The movie is about the boy’s encounter one day, and I’m not sure that its theme comes across very well, but in general the movie was excellent.

The New Tenants (Denmark/USA, 20 min):

This movie starts with an elegant monologue about the failures of humanity and then goes on to show the two main characters a more sinister side of life. They have just moved into a new apartment and quickly find out just how bad of a choice they have made. Vincent D’Onofrio kicks things off as a vengeful husband and things only get worse. This movie was funny and touching, and had a very poetic ending.

Once again, I really enjoyed all the short films. My favorites were The Lady and the Reaper and The New Tenants, but I predict Logorama and The Door will win come Oscar night.

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