Arts oscar animated shorts review

2018 Oscar nominated animated shorts

Five Animated Shorts range from the heartwarming, to the intriguing, to the downright strange.

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Lou only wants to be found at the Lost and Found.
Courtesy of Pixar Creative Services

Dear Basketball
Directed by Glen Keane
Written by Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s tribute to basketball was touching and well made. The short is narrated by Kobe himself as he tells of a little kid who lived, breathed, and dreamed basketball before becoming a professional player. Six-year-old Bryant’s game with only a trashcan and a rolled up tube sock is overlaid with the Lakers championship game. Bryant tells of how much that six-year-old loved the game, how he gave the game his all. In return, basketball gave that little boy his Lakers dream. The charcoal drawing style of animation was engaging and its fluidity matched the transposing narrative between the older and younger Bryant, and its looseness gave the impression of a game without needing to show all the details. It is an excellent short, and at only five minutes it is engaging enough to spare the time.

Negative Space
Directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwuhata

Negative Space is adapted from a poem that tells the story of a connection between a father and a son over the art of effective packing. Of all the shorts, Negative Space had the most unique style. It’s a stop-motion short, the only one in the lineup, and I found that it added a bit of caprice to the story. It was whimsical and while the relationship between the father and son is seen as cold in the poem, the directors made it seem as though there was something special between the two in between every sock or crease of the shirt, which I appreciated especially with the sad ending of the poem.

Directed by Dave Mullins

My personal favorite short, Lou is about an animated creature made from items in a playground lost-and-found who teaches the schoolyard bully how to give rather than take. The shapeshifting, expressive creature named Lou rotates his various parts (a slinky, a hoodie, two baseballs, etc) into new forms to battle the bully for the other children’s toys. I enjoyed how clever it was, and how engaging the movement of each scene was. If you need an uplifting break in between psets, watch this short. You won’t be disappointed.

Revolting Rhymes
Directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

At close to a half hour, by far the longest of the nominated shorts, Revolting Rhymes needed to carry a lot of momentum to get an audience through. This short is based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, where the classic fairy tales get a slightly strange twist. In this short, the stories of Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs are combined. It is told from the point of view of a wolf and from his side, and little Red is not so sweet and innocent. The content was entertaining enough, albeit strange, to hold for the entire 30 minutes, and the style of animation was well done, earning this short a solid three stars.

Garden Party
Directed by Gabriel Grapperon, Florian Babikian, Victor Caire, Vincent Bayoux, Théophile Dufresne, Lucas Navarro

No doubt about it, Garden Party is well made. The animation is crisp and clean and the details shine through. Yet the story was always unclear and dragged on for too long for the surprise ending to make up for it. The audience follows around a couple of frogs as they make their way around what appears to be an abandoned mansion. Clues are picked up here and there to indicate that all is not as it seems, but I was too bored to care. I wasn’t invested in the short like I became in the other ones. So, while the style was good, it couldn’t make up for content.