Saturday, March 31, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2000

Well, we've reached the final year of the second millennium, or the first year of the third millennium, depending on your stance on these definitions. At any rate, this year's Oscar race started out to be quite special, as the Chinese film 臥虎藏龍 (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) earned ten nominations, including Best Picture.  Yet it ended up kind of a downer. While it won four Academy Awards in the end, including Best Foreign Language Film (the first for a Chinese film), it lost out on the two top prizes. Losing Best Picture was not entirely unexpected, but losing the Best Director award was a bit more crushing. 李安 (Ang Lee) won the DGA award, which should have made him a front-runner. Instead he became only the sixth person in 50 years to win the DGA and lose the Oscar. He would eventually win the Oscar in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain, but it would have been better to see him win for a Chinese film.

Anyways, enough of that tangent. This is supposed to be about Best Animated Short. There was something quite different about the race in this category, although this difference was once quite common. What is this difference? Well, there was only three nominees. It was the first time in nine years that happened, and it hasn't happened since. So why was there only three nominees? Well, it would be helpful to review the rules for the short film categories as stated on the Academy Awards website.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2001

So we've come to the ceremony ten years ago. This was the year that Lord of the Rings made a splash onto the scene, leading people to wonder whether or not this would finally overcome the Academy's bias against science fiction or fantasy films that cost Star Wars a Best Picture Oscar. (In the end, it wasn't.) This was also the first year of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, which Shrek pulled off the win over Monsters Inc. But it wasn't a total loss for Monsters Inc., as it helped end Randy Newman's streak of nominations without a first win at 16, when he won for his song "If I Didn't Have You." (The record is now at 20, held by sound mixer Kevin O'Connell). And then there's the Best Animated Short category. This was the first year when I became aware of the nominees of the year. Before then the nominees had always been nameless art-house independent films that I never really cared about, and that the popular stuff never gets nominated (more about that in a later entry). Then a few days before the Oscars, I went to IGN and saw this article showcasing the Oscar nominated animated shorts. They seemed interesting, but I wouldn't watch them for another five years, except for one of the nominees which I saw later that summer.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ranking the Oscar nominated shorts: 2002-2011

Well, lets pause and take a break here. I've reviewed ten years worth of Oscar-nominated animated shorts, and since the history of this category can be broken down into eight ten-year blocks, we should pause and take a look back every ten years. And how would I look back? Well, I like making ranked lists, so I figure why not rank the films by how much I liked them? There have been a total of fifty nominated shorts, meaning that there was five nominees every year. It's the second time in a ten year stretch that has happened, and the first one was 2001-2010. I've seen 49 of the 50 nominees, so it's a good time to reflect on the shorts that I just saw.

And remember, this is solely by how much I liked the short. There are excellent films that rank low because it didn't click with me, and mediocre shorts that rank highly because I have terrible tastes.

NULL: Lorenzo (2004)
It's the film Disney refuses to release, a fact that still drives me absolutely nuts.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2002

We have come to 2002. In many ways this was the most memorable Oscar ceremony, even more so than 1997, the first one I saw. It's got Michael Moore blasting the Bush administration while accepting the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for Bowling for Columbine. It's got Eminem winning the Best Original Song Oscar for Lose Yourself in 8 Mile without even performing it. It's got Adrien Brody laying one on Halle Berry after becoming the youngest Best Actor winner for The Pianist. Most importantly, it featured the one award that made me forever loyal to the Academy Awards: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (aka Spirited Away) winning Best Animated Feature.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2003

Welcome to my review of the Oscar nominated animated short films from 2003. So we are in 2003. The big news this year was that The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won all 11 nominations, thus tying it with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the films with the most awards. (West Side Story could have been on the list if only it had won Best Adapted Screenplay over Judgment at Nuremberg . :() I remember posting the results on Nintendo NSider after the awards. I'm pretty certain I included the Animated Short award, but I glossed over it as I didn't care about the award back then. How things have changed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2004

We've come to it at last: the most recent year with a Best Animated Short that I haven't seen. You'd think the older shorts would be harder to find, but all of them are studio films, like Disney or MGM or Warner Bros., so almost all of them are readily available. (Although the archiving of Columbia films before 1945 is a complete disaster. There is even one that is considered lost, so my goal of watching all of the Oscar nominated shorts will most likely end in complete failure.) Things are different when the missing short is under the firm control of one of the most suppressive corporations out there: Disney. While older Disney shorts leak out constantly, some of their newer shorts are under more security than some of our national secrets. It's probably easier to find out the truth of Area 51 than it is to watch the two missing shorts that Disney has condemned to eternal purgatory. And it is fans of great animation that suffer as a result.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2005

Here we go...the next part of my long and mostly incoherent ramblings on a category that nobody cares about but me for an award that has proved time and time again that they're not the best judge of quality animation. Anyways now we reach 2005, the year that Brokeback Mountain seemed to be riding high until it crashed and burned in front of the finish line. The main storyline for me was whether or not Hayao Miyazaki could win his second Oscar for Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (unfortunately, he wasn't. He succumbed to the immovable force that is Wallace and Gromit.) Best Animated Short was one of the categories in the background, but not for long. It was shortly after this that I had started trying to watch as many of the winning short films as I can.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ticket Tape Parade for Best Animated Short Oscar Win!

So I saw this today on Cartoon Brew (one of the best sources for animation news and info). Apparently the City of Shreveport, LA celebrated the Oscar win by The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore - which was made in Shreveport - in an unprecedented way on Monday March 5. They threw an entire ticker tape parade in honor of directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. It's good to see an entire community embrace the Best Animated Short Oscar enough to do such a thing, but then again it is Louisiana, so they're probably just looking for any excuse to celebrate. Still, I'm pretty bummed I missed such a thing.

Here's the original post on Cartoon Brew.

Some pictures courtesy of Shreveport's Flickr.
 More after the cut

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2006

We come now to 2006, the first year that I had successfully seen all of the nominees. Unfortunately, it came shortly after the Oscar ceremony. I had became interested in the Best Animated Short category back in late 2005 or early 2006, but those early days were spent trying to watch all of the winners. It wasn't until 2007 that I had started to include the nominees as well. I had known that most of the winners were readily accessible, but I had soon found out that the majority of the nominees are easy to find as well. As I said in my last entry, I got from all the way up to 87% after only a year*.  was pretty much able to find all of the nominees on either YouTube or iTunes. It's just getting to that 100% that is difficult. Anyways, most of the nominees should be available online. I hope that these reviews are getting you interested in looking up these nominees and seeing them yourself.

*Although to be fair, my baseline was not 0%. I had seen most of the winners, and a lot of the earlier Disney/Warner Bros/Tom & Jerry cartoons from growing up. I'd have to estimate I had seen about 95/302 of the nominees, or about 31.4%. Still, 56% of the nominees in one year isn't bad.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Non-nominated Highlight - The Cat Piano (2009)


Well, there's only so many films that's been nominated for Best Animated Short, and I'll probably finish reviewing them all at some point in the future. So I'll have to find something to pass the time while waiting for future nominations. Well, I already said that I was planning some lists, since I like making those so much. Besides that, I figure I might as well post some of the incredible animated shorts that don't get nominated. After all, one of the criticism about this category is that through the opaque eligibility, submission, and voting process, several excellent shorts fall through the cracks. For example, What's Opera Doc, the film that most animation historians agree is the greatest of all time, was not nominated for the Oscar. Legend states that the higher ups at Warner Bros. was not pleased with the short and decided not to submit it for Academy consideration. A couple of different Warner Bros. shorts were submitted instead. Two of them were nominated, with one of them taking home the prize. However, most people would agree that neither short lives up to the greatness that is What's Opera Doc.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2007

2007! This was the year after I began watching all of the nominees (before that I had only focused on the winners), and so it was the first year where I had watched all of the nominees before the actual ceremony. I did this by attending the showing of the Oscar nominated animated shorts sponsored by Shorts HQ/Shorts International. I was actually able to find four of the five nominees before the event, but one of the nominees was nowhere to be found online, which led to my sister and me going into Washington DC. It was well worth it, as even the shorts that I had seen looked a lot more dazzling on the big screen.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Best Animated Short - 2008

 Ah, the memories. This was the first time I reviewed the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, in the second year that I had seen the nominees before the ceremony. That year most people were interested in seeing how many awards Slumdog Millionaire would win. I wasn't too concerned, as I had only seen four (yes, only four) of all the nominated films at that time, so I can't say I'm too excited about the traditional awards. Therefore, my main focal points were seeing if Heath Ledger can shake off the stigma of being dead and win Best Supporting Actor posthumously...and the Best Animated Short category. It's interesting to look back at my progression at watching the nominees. Back then, two years after trying to watch the winners and a year after starting to watch all the nominees I had seen 73/76 (96%) of the winners and 275 / 317 (87%) of the nominees, or 87%. Three years later I had seen 100% of the winners, and 322/332 (97%) of the nominees. Evidently I've kind of hit the bottleneck.