If you haven’t had an opportunity to see these 2012 Oscar nominated short films and you’re placing last- minute bets, here are personal picks courtesy of Brennan Foster:
BEST SHORT ANIMATION
A MORNING STROLL. Winner of the BAFTA, this nominee depicts a chicken walking down a city sidewalk — over a hundred-year time span. Its animation style ranges from line-drawn silent film to post-apocalyptic 3-D landscape.
Of all the nominees, A MORNING STROLL entertains. It does so while riffing on Looney Tunes, smartphone apps, chickens and zombies with great invention and impeccable comic timing.
Another favorite: SUNDAY, a droll look at a Canadian family’s narrow worship rituals — traveling to church and gathering for dinner; only their child notices the many animals blithely getting killed as the day passes in the dying industrial town.
Presumed Oscar Favorites: Pixar’s LA LUNA and former Pixar animator William Joyce’s THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE showcase gorgeous visuals that can’t overcome maudlin sentiment.
The latter gets a prize for Tweepiest animated short (‘twee’ and ‘creepy’.) Look, Mr. Lessmore: if a bunch of flying books are going to lure you to a magical house and adamantly insist (like a cat lady’s clowder rubbing against her legs for food) that you read them repeatedly for decades until you die… That’s horrifying.
BEST LIVE ACTION
THE SHORE. This Northern Irish production, starring Ciaran Hinds, wins top honors for its gorgeous setting and understated style.
Decades after fleeing the Troubles, a man returns to Belfast with his grown daughter and pays a visit to his old best friend and former fiancee, who married each other after he emigrated.
Gracefully directed by two-time Academy Award nominee,Terry George, the film shrugs off melodrama and enjoys the company and maturity of its characters, allowing them to have a good laugh or two at themselves.
It’s a wiser film for approaching major topics with small gestures. Another favorite: TUBA ATLANTIC. A complete antithesis to THE SHORE, this Norwegian short is about the last days of a cranky old man being watched over by a willowy teenaged Angel of Death.
The film gleefully depicts numerous seagull deaths and features a gigantic tuba built to sound across the ocean. TUBA ATLANTIC may bite off too much, but it chews with absurd gusto, like Popeye swallowing a can of spinach.
Finally, my late, Academy Award-related contribution to this week’s Top Ten List:
“What movie do you think should have been made naked?”
CHARIOTS OF FIRE! It adds a new fold to the religious context. Plus, the races would be much more entertaining.
Enjoy your evening!