Oscar nominated Animated shorts 2017

This year again Ottawa’s ByTowne Cinema programs the collections of Oscar nominated shorts compiled by Shorts international. Every year we can judge for ourselves the qualities of those short masterpieces.

Here are the five nominees:

Dear basketball, Directed by Glen Keane, U.S., 5 min.
Based on a letter Kobe Bryant wrote announcing his retirement from basketball. Bryant reads his letter while we see him as a child full of hope and dreams. It has everything going for it, even a classy John Williams score. Beautiful.

Garden party, Directed by Gabriel Grapperon, Florian Babikian, Victor Caire, Vincent Bayoux, Théophile Dufresne, Lucas Navarro, France, 7
Directed by students at an animation school in France. A few amphibians have taken over an abandoned mansion. Extremely well made, funny and disturbing short.

Lou, Directed by Dave Mullins, U.S., 6 min.
A creature made of items from the school’s lost and found box teach a lesson to a toy-stealing bully. From Pixar/Disney, but much less interesting than their earlier shorts.

Negative space, Directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, France, 5 min.
The sad relationship between a boy and his father, who is a traveling salesman. The father is often away on business, but he has taught his son the best way to pack a suitcase. Good animation.

Revolting rhymes, Directed by Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer, U.K., 28 min.
Adapted from a series illustrated books of poems from Roald Dahl. Fairy tale characters are modernized into a witty and amusing retelling. There is even a possible lesbian romance. Hey, this is 2018!

Additionally on the program there are these three more short films.

Lost property office, Directed by Daniel Agdag, Australia, 10 min.
At the Lost property office (meaning Lost and found) the custodian’s only friend is a toy robot and he spends the long hours listening to old records on his old gramophone. Hand–crafted stop-motion animated films is a bit of a bore. This film was on the Oscar shortlist, but was not retain as a nominee.

Weeds, Directed by Kevin Hudson, U.S., 3 min.
The short life of a flower on a hot sunny day. Clever but too short to have nay impact.
Achoo, Directed by Yuki Hirakawa, Japan, 5 min.
At a flame blowing contest for dragons, the littlest of dragons, blowing only tiny sparkles, doesn’t stand any chance.

And the Oscar went to…  Dear basketball won! Co-producer Kobe Bryant was there to accept the award.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Oscar nominated Animated shorts 2017


Various directors

Approx. 90 min.


The breadwinner

The breadwinner is an animated film about Parvana, an eleven-year-old girl living with her family in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. After her father is arrested, Parvana’s mother is having trouble feeding her children. Women are banned from going out in public without a man and at home there is only Parvana, her older sister and a little brother. So Parvana cuts off her hair and pretends she is a boy. She is then able to earn some money and buy food. One day she meets Shauzia, a girl who also dresses as a boy. Shauzia and Parvana become friends and help each other. At home, Parvana helps her family cope by telling them the story of a young boy named Sulayman who must confront his fears and fight a giant elephant. There are then two types of anination. The more realistic drawings for Parvana’s adventures, and the animation for the Sulayman fantasy tale. It looks like a paper collage, is more colourful, and can be very funny at times. Based on the popular children’s novel by Deborah Ellis, The breadwinner is really for adults and older children. It is beautifully made with a lot of careful details and respect. One more plus: the main character is a fearless girl. It has great artistic integrity and it is charming.

And the Oscar went to… The winner for Animated feature film was the more mainstream blockbuster Coco.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


The breadwinner


Directed by:
Nora Twomey

Screenplay by:
Anita Doran
Deborah Ellis
adapted from The breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

94 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

Oscar nominated animated shorts 2016

I found this year’s Oscar nominated animated shorts to be a mixed bag. Some are great, others are OK. And I found one of them dreadful. Even so, it still interested to see and judge for ourself. Like in previous years, the five nominated films are not long enough for a feature-length program. Three films have been added, two of them were among the ten films on Oscar’s short list but did not make the final pick as a nominee. So here it goes.

Borrowed time (Nominee)
An old West sheriff on the decline revisits the past atop a mountain. Strong contender. Computer animation. 7 min.

Pearl (Nominee)
A girl and her dad and their car. Later on she gets to drive the car, own it and live her own life. Well drawn but short on plot. 6 min.

Piper (Winner)
Canadian director Alan Barillaro’s Pixar/Disney amazing computer animated short a cute baby shorebirds trying to find food on a beach. At 6 minutes it is too short. More please!

Blind Vaysha (Nominee)
A girl who sees the past with one eye and the future with the other. She never sees the present. The usual from Canada’s National film board. A bit boring. 8 min.

The head vanishes (Among the ten films on Oscar’s short list)
An elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer and dementia is walking around without a head. A Canada (National film board) and France co-production. 9 min.

Two astronauts are ready to plant a flag on a newly discovered planet. But some other species got there before them, Much fun. 5 min.

Once upon a line (Among the ten films on Oscar’s short list)
A man who lives in a black line world comes across a lady from a pink line universe. Chaos follows. Clever. 7 min.

(Please note, this is the last film in the programme and is NOT suitable for young children. A warning card will advise parents prior to the start of this short.)

Pear cider and cigarettes (Nominee)
Canadian animator Robert Valley’s tale of his alcoholic friend Techno Stypes and his health problems. At 35 minutes it is too long and repetitive. Simply dreadful. Does not belong among the nominees.

And the Oscar went to … I predicted that Piper would win, and it did. Sometimes you get it, others you don’t.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Oscar nominated animated shorts 2016

Directed by:
Theodore Ushev
Andrew Coats
Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Patrick Osborne
Alan Barillaro
Franck Dion
Lola Grand
Alexandre Arpentinier
Mathieu Blanchys
Tristan Lamarca
Thomas Lemaille
Jean-Charles Lusseau
Alicja Jasina
Robert Valley

86 min.

Rated 14A

The red turtle

The red turtle is one of the best animated feature film I’ve ever seen. It is certainly the most beautiful. It tells the tale of a man shipwrecked on a deserted island. After exploring the island, the man realizes that he is indeed alone, except for a small colony of crabs, that acts as the film’s comic relief. The man is comfortably settled into a routine of days at the beach, and sleeping under the stars, on a diet of coconuts and other exotic fruits. After a while though, he feels the desire to rejoin civilisation. He build a raft from bamboo trees and sails away from the island. But he doesn’t go very far because the raft is suddenly attacked and destroyed by an unseen underwater animal. The man does not know what animal that would be. He swims back to the island. Later, he builds a second raft, and again it is destroyed. The man still has no clue what it could be, but it is obvious that something won’t let him leave the island. On his third try he comes face to face with an enormous red turtle just before it breaks the third raft. To tell you more would spoil the film. Let’s just say that I would describe The red turtle as an animated romantic fantasy. Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit’s first feature was funded by Japanese producers. The red turtle shows eastern and western influences, using both hand-drawn and computer-drawn animation techniques. Quiet and poetic one moment (it has no dialogue, except for the occasional international “Hey!”), The red turtle can suddenly become spectacularly powerful. The same could be said about the work of soundmen Sébastien Marquilly, Matthieu Michaux and Florian Fabre, and a magnificent score by Laurent Perez del Mar. Dudok de Wit’s drawings are visually stunning. Images of the sea (waves, underwater sequences and the dangers of the ocean) are particularly effective. Simply breathtaking and jaw-droppingly beautiful. Not to be missed.

And the Oscar went to… Best animated feature film went to Zootopia. Unfortunate.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

The red turtle

Directed by:
Michael Dudok de Wit

Screenplay by:
Michael Dudok de Wit
Pascale Ferran

80 min.

Rated General.

Oscar nominated animated shorts 2015

It is always fun and interesting to see the Oscar nominated animated short films. Every year, we get to see films with a wide range of animation techniques. The first short is from Pixar. Sanjay’s super team is about Hindu boy Sanjay’s love for video games and super heroes crashing with his father’s traditional views. Heartfelt and sweet. Next: From Chile, Bear story (Historia de un oso), is an allegory set Pinochet’s Chile. Animation innovator Don Hertzfeldt’s World of tomorrow was made from recorded conversations between Hertzfeldt’s four year old niece and actress Julia Pott. It’s all about the future. Abstract and artsy. In We can’’t live without cosmos (Mi ne mozhem zhit bez kosmosa) two Russian cosmonauts anxiously awaits their first trip in space. Well made but conventional. Before the last movie plays, there are four bonus shorts. The reason will become clear if you read the following warning found on the ByTowne page:

NOTE FOR PARENTS : All films in this year’s programme are suitable for children, except the Oscar nominee Prologue, which contains graphic violence and nudity. We’ve arranged for Prologue to be the FINAL film in the show, and an Advisory notice will appear before that film. Parents who do not want their children to see Prologue will have time to gather up their things and head for the lobby.

The four bonus films are: National film board of Canada’s If I was God. A boy’s daydreaming in class causes a lot of problems. The short story of a fox and a mouse about the most unlikely friendship. Bill Plympton’s The loneliest spotlight: Thirty tears in the life of a traffic light. But the most fun is Catch it. In the jungle various animals are trying to catch a fruit.  The last nominated short is Prologue. There is full frontal male nudity and violence. Beautiful hand drawn animation. The winner will be announced on February 28.

And the Oscar went to… Bear story (Historia de un oso), a short film from Chile won. A first for that country.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

Oscar nominated animated shorts 2015

86 min.

All films suitable for children EXCEPT Prologue

2014 Oscar nominated shorts – Animation

The annual collection of Oscar nominated animation short is back. It is always fun to watch, for the stories they tell and the great variety of animation techniques that are featured. From Canada, Me and my Moulton is the National film board’s 73rd Oscar nomination. Norway born director Torill Kove’s autobiographical depiction of growing up with unconventional parents and her desire to get a bicycle. Although this is well done, the conventional NFB style makes this film less interesting. And technically, it is plain and unexciting. Not so with The bigger picture. British animator Daisy Jacobs paints on walls and furnitures to create life-size characters. This technique looks painstakingly difficult and time-consuming. It tells the touching story of two brothers taking care of their dying mother. Feast is a delight from Disney studio. It focuses on a little dog who is always eating. His life (and food) changes when his owner finds love. In A single life, when Pia plays a single vinyl record, she gets older or younger depending on where the needle lands. At only 2 minutes long, this clever computer animated short is close to perfection. The dam keeper is an allegorical fable about a little pig getting bullied at school. And then he becomes a friend with his new classmate, Fox. A bit like Animal farm. And a bit heavy-handed, with too many topics such as bullying and pollution piled on. Its saving grace is the beautiful animation made by a combination of painting and brush-stroke effects. Those five films being too short, this compilation also include four other shorts. Directed by five French animation students, Sweet cocoon is the story of an overweight caterpillar desperate to get inside his cocoon. It is the funniest and the nuttier film of the bunch. There is also Bill Plympton’s latest film Footprints and Glen Keane’s film Duet. The collection ends with Bus story, another NFB film. Over all this is a better than average collection.

And the Oscar went to… Disney’s Feast won the Oscar. Well deserved.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

2014 Oscar nominated shorts – Animation

77 min.

Rated Parental Guidance

Oscar® nominated animated shorts 2013

For some years the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts have been shown at the ByTowne Cinema. It’s fun to see and decide if the Academy got it wrong. And they always do. The presentation is simple. The two hosts are a giraffe and an ostrich. Animated of course. Bit players in animation films they talk about the animated stars they met and the latest gossips. The shorts are: Get a horse! A Disney film starring Mickey Mouse. The first since 1995. The look of a 16mm black-and-white animated Disney film of the past is accurately recreated. When Mickey gets run off the screen he is in color. The screen is turned upside down, flipped, pierced, ect. A funny and inventive gem. The second film is Mr. Hublot, a Luxembourg-French film. In a futuristic Paris lives Mr. Hublot (porthole in french), a man with obsessive–compulsive disorder wearing enormous glasses. He adopts a stranded robot dog. The dog gets bigger and bigger taking too much space in Hublot’s apartment. The film’s technical aspects are beautifully realized. What irks me is the inclusion of two English songs. Eleven minutes animated shorts from France do not need songs. And if French producers feel it needs some, I’m sure there would be lots of French songs to be found. Daniel Sousa’s Feral is about a boy found in the woods and brought back to civilization. But he doesn’t fit in and becomes wild and savage again. This is the most stylized film of the bunch. Certainly the work of an artist, a craftsman. Japanese Anime director Shuhei Morita’s Possessions is the fourth film. A man lost in a forest finds refuge in a cabin full of umbrellas with eyes and alive kimonos. Based on Japanese myths that after being discarded for more than one hundred years things attain souls. Like the other films this is well made. The fifth short is Room on the broom. A witch and her cat meet along their travels a bird, a dog and a frog. The witch kindly allows them to ride on her broom. The most fun of the shorts on the program with likable characters. Four other shorts complement the program including Chris Landreth’s Subconscious password.

And the Oscar went to… Mr. Hublot. My vote goes to Get a horse!

Rémi-Serge Gratton

 Oscar® nominated animated shorts 2013

Directed by: 
Lauren MacMullan
Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares
Daniel Sousa
Max Lang & Jan Lachauer
Shuhei Morita
and others.
108 min.
Rated Parental Guidance
In English, Japanese and others with subtitles.