Adam and Dog (Director Minkyu Lee)
Fresh Guacamole (Director Adam Pesapane)
Head Over Heels (Director Timothy Reckart)
Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’ (Director David Silverman)
Paperman (Director John Kahrs)
While the Animated Feature films each year often get the most attention, some years actually feature the best animation being done in the short film. In my humble opinion, 2012 was just such a year, so it was very pleasing to see the Best Animated Short category as stacked as it is this year. A pair of the five nominated shorts are better than any of the feature animated flicks that got nominated, and honestly better than any that were released last year. The category itself isn’t easy to predict, but I’m going to be taking a crack at it anyway. Lets get started and begin by getting to know the nominated works!
Adam and Dog is up first, and this a very quiet nominee that I think could play the spoiler to the big contender of the category. While much too long, it’s very beautiful and tells a simple and heartwarming story. It’s kind of Adam and Eve meets Paradise Lost, but much of the potential darkness of that mashup is kept on the sidelines. Director Minkyu Lee did a very solid job here with simple 2D animation, and given how I think the Academy might respond to it, this may very well be the second most likely winner of the group.
Fresh Guacamole is the second nominated short, and boy was it clever. Honestly, I think it’s the second least likely to win, just due to how slight in nature it is, but a victory would thrill me just a little bit. Director Adam Pesapane pretty much presents a stylized stop-motion version of making guacamole from scratch in under two minutes. I’d have watched for twice as long, but it’s really the perfect length. Voters would have to have a sense of humor to give it the win, so I’m not expecting it. Still, this was a charming delight of a short.
Head Over Heels is next, and while it’s also clever, it overstays its welcome a bit, much like the first short we discussed. It felt like a kindred spirit to Up, but without as much warmth, telling the tale of the living arrangement an elderly couple has devised after steadily growing apart. This one was a bit quirkier, and as such probably won’t be able to get the emotion out of enough voters to make it a likely win. Honestly, I think it’s right in the middle of the pack, but if it did wind up winning I certainly wouldn’t be upset in any way. Director Timothy Reckart applied claymation for this short, and that’s been a winning formula here and there with Oscar, so don’t let this one out of your site…it could surprise.
Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’ is the fourth nominee, and it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, this adventure featuring the youngest Simpson child gives you a good laugh and leaves you feeling pleased. The thing is, how many members of the Academy are fans? They didn’t wind up nominating The Simpsons Movie, so without that citation, I feel like this is the least likely winner. It’s not a quality issues, just the sad truth. Had their feature film gotten nominated, then I’d say watch out for this one. Since it didn’t, I’d say we can more or less cross it off. Director David Silverman is a veteran helmer of the show, so it looks and feels like a piece of an episode. I liked that approach, but it likely won’t charm the Academy much.
Paperman is our last film, but it’s certainly not the least. Personally, it’s the best piece of animation that I saw in 2012, and even one of the best pieces of cinema that I saw. Yup, it’s that good. Director John Kahrs blended his animated beautifully, and when I saw it in 3D, everything just popped in way you hope it does. It’s an old school romance, with the black and white images sweeping you up in them. Far and away this most deserves to win, and it’s the frontrunner right now. The category is a funny one, but this more than likely will triumph.
The short form categories are among the very hardest to predict. Without much in the way of precursor factors (if any) to consider, one has to look at the work and just try and apply some feeling to it. Honestly, while I feel like Paperman is clearly out in front, I think the #2-5 spots are real bunched together, and honestly likely are closer to the top slot than I’d like to think. The only one that would shock me with a win is Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’, but that’s just because I don’t think voters are huge fans of the show. I’m very interested in seeing what pulls out the win here, and I hope you are too!
Snubbed: I honestly couldn’t tell you…maybe one of the Toy Story shorts?
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!
Tags: animated short film, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare', Oscar hopefuls, Paperman