Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1965

Ah, the joys of residency interviews. People keep saying that these are informal and that the residencies are making sure that we can work well with the staff in that facility, but that's what they said about medical school interviews. You still have dozens of people interviewing for one spot, so the chances of you getting that one spot is much diminished. Perhaps I'm still haunted by my med school interview season back in 2008-09, one that ended up with me getting waitlisted on seven schools in ten interviews, even though I was told that the interviewers liked me. Thinking back to those days turn me into a nervous wreck like Rainbow Dash over there. Maybe that's why I bomb these interviews. I can only think back to my failures and that set me into a cycle of failure. Well today is my ninth interview (at Eastern Virginia Medical School, which waitlisted me in 2008) so hopefully I can keep my composure, but I doubt it. Perhaps that's why I scheduled 27 interviews and am planning on going to all of them. Because part of me knows that's what it's going to take in order to get in somewhere. I wish I had the confidence to take only 5 - 12 interviews like everybody else that's doing psych at my school, but just look at poor Rainbow Dash. You think she'd be fine doing only 12 interviews in that state of mind? I thought not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1966

Well, we're closing in at the end of the year, and now we're entering the time of year when all of the Best Picture hopefuls are coming out in theaters. Today is a pretty significant day where no less than two films with Best Picture aspirations are opening wide. The first is Life of Pi, the film based on the highly symbolic novel from Yann Martel. While the film deals a lot with Indians, it was actually helmed by Taiwanese director 李安 (Ang Lee), the man behind such classics as 臥虎藏龍 (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Brokeback Mountain, and my personal favorites 喜宴 (The Wedding Banquet) and 色,戒 (Lust, Caution). He has a special skill of mixing art and symbolism and would be a perfect choice for a film like this. Of course, the one that I'm more curious in is Silver Linings Playbook. The trailer caught my attention with its portrayal of a guy that's clearly in a manic state, and then showed Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence's characters swapping lists of mood stabilizers and benzodiazepines that they took. I have no idea how accurate the portrayal of psychiatric illnesses will be, but as an aspiring psychiatrists I am very curious. All of the Oscar buzz doesn't hurt either. Unfortunately my life will be rather turbulent for the next month what with interviews and traveling to Conshohocken, Pennsylvania for the COMLEX Physical Exam test, but hopefully I'll find some time to watch it. And work on more reviews.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1967

Well, our journey backwards through the history of the Best Animated Short category continues. I really hope I'll get time to write all this in the next two months because I'll have residency interviews up the wazoo. I have 27 interviews scheduled, which is 2.7x more than the number of med school interviews I had. And since some of my interviews will be two in one, I'd have to rank 31 programs come match time. Yep, it's going to be a busy three months.

But I cannot take a break. After all, there are still 36 more years to review, and the 2012 Oscar season is starting. Why, the shortlist was posted just last week. And the final list of nominees will be announced in January, and I'll have a review for that to interrupt the reviews from the 1950s. And then the cycle begins again with new films competing in new festivals and so on and so forth. Hopefully I'll get to go to some of these festivals someday.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Documentary Short Highlight - Why Man Creates (1968)

You stay classy, Rainbow Dash
So today was the premiere of Season 3 for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and to be frank it was soooooo awesome! Yeah, the adventure elements are kind of underdeveloped. All of the possible tension points were resolved anti-climactically, and there were a lot of build-up for something that never delivered with the villain. Still, there were a lot of great moments: Pinkie Spy with her night vision goggles and undercover costume. Some more hilarious over-the-top Rarity moments. It convinced me that the show should stick with the slice of life angle because that's what they do best. Why worry about adventures and stuff when it's more interesting to see how the characters with distinct personalities interact?

Of course, as you can probably tell that's not the reason for this review. It's been a while since I did a review on a film that wasn't nominated for Best Animated Short. The last one I did was Oink back in May. The last time I did a review on an animated film nominated in a different category was Sunrise over Tiananmen Square from April. Sunrise was nominated in 1998, and now we are at the 1968 review, a difference of 30 years. It's not that there hasn't been an animated film nominated in this category in the years in between. The Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein utilized animation in telling the story and the art style of a famous Canadian artist, and was nominated in 1992. However, the film is not available online, and my efforts to acquire a copy of the DVD failed, probably because my address was in flux at the time. (I really should ask NFB for a refund.)

However, animation was featured quite prominently in Why Man Creates, the documentary from legendary graphic designer Saul Bass that was nominated for the Best Documentary Short film Oscar in 1968.

Best Animated Short - 2012 - The Shortlist

And then there were ten...

Well, it's that time of the year again. The Short Film and Animation Branch has voted, and they whittled the list of 57 qualifying films into the list of ten finalists on the shortlist. They will reconvene to vote on these ten films and determine the 3-5 nominees. Of course, there hasn't been a year with less than 5 nominees since 2000, so I don't really expect this year to be any different. Of course we won't find out which ones made the cut until January 10.

To be honest this announcement kind of caught me off guard. For one thing, in the past three years the shortlist had been announced in late November or early December, and I was kind of expecting it to happen again. Still, I usually check Cartoon Brew every day just for the heck of it, and could have got the news from there during my lunch hour. However, the Gameloft My Little Pony game was released on iOS on Wednesday and Android on Thursday, and I spent my lunch break playing the game on both my iPod and my Android phone*.

*So sad. Rainbow Dash is the last of the Mane Six ponies to be unlocked, at 43. I'm at level 23 so there's only 20 levels left, but knowing the way these games work, I'd probably need twice as much XP as I have now to get to level 43. 

Before we move on to the shortlist, here's a few films that were lauded by folks that actually go to these festivals. Don Hertzfeldt was nominated for Rejected back in 2000 (the last year with fewer than five nominees), and since 2006 he had been working on a trilogy of films that many consider his masterpiece. Everything Will Be OK made it onto the shortlist in 2006 but failed to garner a nomination, and I Am So Proud of You missed in 2009. The final film of the trilogy, It's Such a Beautiful Day, similarly missed the cut. Other films include Oh, Willy... and Junkyard. I haven't seen any of those films in their entirety, so I can't really comment on those. One film that I did see that didn't make it was Daffy's Rhapsody. It was the newest entry in the new 3D Warner Bros. films. The interesting thing is that two other entries in the past two years had made it onto the shortlist: Coyote Falls and I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat. Of course, the Academy had nominated several Wily Coyote/Road Runner and Sylvester/Tweety films. They had never nominated Daffy Duck. This bias still persists.

And then there were the ten that made it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Best Animated Short - 1968

Okay, I'm not even going to wait until the end to announce this. I don't even know why I do that because I post the title screen for the winning film on every single of my reviews, so it's not like I'm spoiling anything. It's even more true for this years because I wrote about this year's Best Animated Short winner four months ago. That's right, we have finally reached the year that Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day took home the Best Animated Short Oscar, ending the 13 year drought for Disney and making him one of the select group of people to win a posthumous Oscar. It's hard to believe that it's been four months since I was working on the puzzle based on the film, but I guess time passes when you're busy with clinical rotations, board studying, baseball*, and My Little Pony.

*No idea what to think about the Giants beating the Tigers. I mean, I like both teams. I was born in Michigan and still have aunts that are die-hard fans of the Tigers. And I've kind of gotten board the Giants bandwagon since the entire Randy Johnson's 300th win thing three years ago. I've always liked it when teams that hadn't won for a while wins again, and the Tigers haven't won since 1984, a few months before I was even born. However, I'm also not very pleased with the Tigers' efforts to essentially buy their way to the title with that massive deal for Prince Fielder. On the other hand, the Giants had won two years ago, and they beat the hometown Rangers to do so. So, it really was a lose-lose situation. At least it wasn't the Cardinals that won. 

So in my post back in June I talked quite extensively about Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, but I didn't mention any of the films that it was competing against, so there will still be something to talk about in this post.