Friday, February 15, 2019

Movie Review: 2019 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films

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Each year, we seek out "the Oscar-Nominated Short Films," in particular the animated shorts, because we love watching what directors can do with such a small amount of time and a large amount of imagination. 2019 has several strong contenders, so without further ado, here are our reviews for the five Academy Award-nominated animated shorts!

Animal Behaviour 2019 Academy Awards nominated short film
"Don't be afraid. We won't bite." (Image Source)
Director: David Fine and Alison Snowden
Running Time: 14 minutes

Different animals whose species's traits matches their issues attend a group therapy session.

Written and directed by David Fine and Alison Snowden, "Animal Behaviour" boasts a cute, fun story about different types of people and their behavior as represented by anthropomorphic animals. There is a leech who is too clingy and acts more like a parasite than a partner, a praying mantis who goes through partners because she is a literal man-eater, a pig who can't stop eating, a giant ape with anger issues, and a dog with a penchant for butt-sniffing, though the metaphor of the last one is sort of hard to grasp. It is entertaining enough and has some funny moments, but overall, we cannot say we were wowed by this short despite its interesting comic-esque animation style. It just doesn't feel like anything more than a sketch show premise. Still, it is a decent enough watch, but we know for a fact that we saw other better-animated shorts come out of 2018.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
Bao 2019 Academy Awards nominated short film
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Director: Domee Shi
Running Time: 8 minutes

A woman making Bao has one of her dumplings come to life and act like a surrogate son.

Written and directed by Domee Shi, "Bao" offers a metaphorical exploration of motherhood and empty nest syndrome. No matter what you do, there comes a time in every parent's life where their child leaves home...well, most children. For some parents, this leaves a vast hole in their lives that they struggle to fill. This short shows a woman getting a second attempt/chance at parenthood, only to arrive at the same result, which ultimately is a testament to her good parenting. As with most Pixar films, feature-length or otherwise, "Bao" is filled with absolutely gorgeous, photo-realistic animation and offers a heartfelt story that made both of us tear up quite a bit. Though some elements may be a bit weird for many viewers, we urge you to look past the exterior and search your soul for the beauty of this message. We have seen this short film twice now and have enjoyed it both times.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
Late Afternoon 2019 Academy Awards nominated short film
"I hope I'm not too late." (Image Source)
Director: Louise Bagnall
Running Time: 9 minutes

An elderly woman has her memory sparked when she is served some tea and biscuits.

This short is written and directed by Louise Bagnall, who worked in the animation department on films like "Song of the Sea" and "The Breadwinner." Here, Bagnall gets to showcase her writing and directing talents in the same beautiful, more traditional animation style that we saw in the two previously mentioned films. "Late Afternoon" is a moving tale that looks at how aging and memory loss impacts the lives of so many. It explores how seemingly innocuous things can spark a vivid, crucial memory that can lead to a single moment of joy, however fleeting it may be. It spoke to BigJ and me, having experienced something similar in our own lives. It is a tender story that is relatable, emotional, and extremely well animated. It is sure to tug at the heartstrings of all viewers, and we think it is absolutely worth watching.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
One Small Step 2019 Academy Awards nominated short film
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Director: Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas
Running Time: 8 minutes

A young girl with aspirations of being an astronaut receives support and motivation from her father, a humble shoemaker.

Upstart company TAIKO Studios and directors Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas have created a touching, timeless story about never giving up on your dreams in "One Small Step." It shows the importance of having support from loved ones and how critical it can be for young children to have in their formative years. It also explores the parent-child bond in a tender, sometimes heartwrenching way. This film is gorgeously animated. It is a short movie, but it pulled more feeling and emotion out of us than most feature-length films that came out in 2018. If you want to see the best film of the year that explores loss through preparing for a trip to the moon, look no further than "One Small Step."

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
Weekends 2019 Academy Awards nominated short film
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Director: Trevor Jimenez
Running Time: 15 minutes

A young boy navigates life the differences between his divorced parents.

Writer/director Trevor Jimenez explores a topic that many are all too familiar with given that the divorce rate in America is ~50%. The majority of children will be or have been affected by divorce in some way, and roughly a third live in a single parent household, much like the character in this film. It explores the duality of this living situation and shows how children can experience two vastly different lifestyles with one parent compared to the other. It also takes a look at how a mother and father's follow-up romantic relationships can impact a child's life through the use of surreal animation to show the young child's view of the world and those in it. The animation, which reminded us of "The Snowman" (1982), is a bit rough, but it is quite a striking style that we very much enjoyed, even when it offers up some creepy, haunting imagery. In the end, there is a lot to like about this short film, though we have a hunch it may leave some scarred.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10

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