Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1952

Ah, we have arrived at 1952. Apologies to everybody that was born in 1952 (including my aunt who would probably never read this blog entry), but 1952 just feels like an undistinguished year to me. Other than the birth year of my aunt I really can't think of anything significant from this year. Yeah, 1951 has the dual debuts of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, the Shot Heard Around the World, and an epic lineup of Best Picture nominees. 1953 saw the birth of George Brett, Mickey Mantle's legendary 565-foot home run (that probably didn't go 565 feet), and the fifth consecutive World Series win by the Yankees. And what did 1952 have? The birth of my aunt, which is much more of a personal thing.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that the films of 1952 were rather undistinguished. There is only one film that really stands out today, and that was the delightful Gene Kelly musical Singin' in the Rain. But Singin' in the Rain was only a modest hit at the box office, and scored only two Oscar nominations. The Gary Cooper Western melodrama High Noon is also highly regarded today, but it did even worse at the box office and was highly criticized for its supposed allegory on the Hollywood blacklisting.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Best Short Subjects Highlight: Ben and Me (1953)

So as you might have figured out by now, there are three short categories. Best Animated Short is the one we've been focusing on for the past year, and it's been the most stable since the introduction of the short categories in 1932. The only changes is in the name, which was Best Short Subjects (Cartoons) for almost 40 years before changing to Best Short Subjects (Animated) to the current Best Short Films (Animated). The second is Best Documentary Short, which has also been stable since the introduction of the documentary categories in 1941, although there have been some confusion between this and the third category: Best Live Action Short.

The Best Live Action Short has undergone the most changes over the year. In fact, it's only been known as Best Live Action Short since 1957. It debuted in 1932 as two separate categories: Best Short Subjects (Comedy) and Best Short Subjects (Novelty.) In 1936 they decided to change the category into One-Reel and Two-Reel, meaning they will be competing with films of about the same length. I don't have the rules for the categories back then, but I don't presume that they actually have anything ruling out having animated films compete in these Short Subjects categories like they do nowadays. How else can we explain the presence of Ben and Me, a film animated in the traditional style, in the category that would become Best Live Action Short in four years time?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1953

Well, I've officially graduated from medical school this past weekend, so that would make me officially a doctor. I suppose it's weird thinking of myself that way, along with taking on the responsibilities of such a title, but it's something I've been working towards for almost ten years so it's something that I'm quite pleased about. Now I still have about a month before I have to start orientation for residency, but I have over 20 reviews to go, so I'll still have to work on reviews while I'm in residency. Hopefully I get enough of a queue that I won't have to take any more hiatuses.

Anyways, onto 1953, a full 60 years ago and the year of George Brett's birth. It must be a bit disconcerting for Kansas City Royals fan to think that their best player, the one that led them to seven playoff berths and one World Series title, is now 60 years old. That's the same age that legendary manager John McGraw was when he died shortly after retiring from managing in 1934, and nobody was saying he's a spring chicken (especially not after a 33-year managerial career that includes 2,763 wins - second of all time.) But hey, he still displays quite a bit of vitality for a guy his age.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Best Live Action Short Highlight: Pas de Deux (1968)

Pas de Deux was a film that was nominated in the Best Live Action Short category, and I decided to skip writing about it back in October because for one reason I was struggling to keep my queue up, and for another reason I didn't really think it was animated. Why, the question even came up in the Canadian module of my History of Animation course, and I argued that it was live action. However, while doing some research about A Chairy Tale I found that Norman McLaren won a BAFTA award for Pas de Deux in the Best Animated Film category! Then it hit me. Who gives a buck about what I feel? My opinions are more worthless than the garbage you threw away a few days ago (which makes it kind of dubious as to why you're reading this in the first place.) I may not be as much of a fan of the BAFTA awards as the Oscars, but if they say Pas de Deux is an animated film then by golly we're going to review it like it's an animated film, which means it's going to be another highlight post. Yes, after going what seems like ages without a Saturday post, we're having our fourth Saturday post in a row, and we're not closed to finished yet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1954

So today is George Brett's 60th birthday, and it is also one of the saddest days of my trip. Yes, as this post is going up I will be returning from Taiwan to prepare to return to my normal life, which includes graduating from med school, either moving or getting my unexpected roommate to move out after seven long months, and onto residency and beyond. Considering I'm only in my first week at Taiwan, it's a bit sad to think that in a few short days I'll be leaving, but that's just a consequence of the inevitability of the passage of time. That's something that has been bothering me for ages and is now still haunting me.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Best Documentary Short Highlight - The Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein (1992)

In my last Saturday post about A Chairy Tale, I mentioned that there was an animated documentary that was nominated for the Best Documentary Short in 1992. My review of the nominated films of 1992 went up almost a year ago, but the film was nowhere to be found on the National Film Board of Canada website. I went back and checked periodically to see if it was posted, but it never was. By August I was desperate and decided to buy a copy from the NFB website. However, it never came and I decided to give up looking for it. If it ever gets posted then great, but I wasn't going to sit around waiting for it.

Well, when I was writing my thing on A Chairy Tale, I mentioned it when I talked about how I didn't always post these highlights in the year where it was made. After I made the reference I went and looked and lo and behold, there it was. Apparently the National Film Board posted it when I was wasting my time, money, and energy on futile interviews for programs that hated me the moment they saw my worthless obese self. Well, now that it's posted I might as well review it.

So here it is: The Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1955

We have now gotten to the year 1955, which is the year that my dad was born. When I was young I idolized my dad and thought everything in the world about him.* I even thought that he was really old, and that anything or anybody that was older than him would be really, really old. Of course he was only in his 30s back then, but it's been over 20 years since those days and my dad is closing in on his 60th birthday. So I guess the films from this year and the ones I'll be reviewing later would be really, really old.

*I still think everything of my dad. He is the mot selfless and hard working person I've ever known. I know that we have clashed from my laid back nature and his more serious nature, but I understand that he wants me to be the best that I can be because he is always demanding his best. I don't think I've ever told him that I appreciate everything he's done for me and that I love him, but I might as well do it here. 爸爸,我愛你.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Best Live Action Short Highlights - A Chairy Tale (1957)

So I was so eager in getting the Non-Nominated Highlight up for What's Opera, Doc? after the 1957 review that I plum forgot that 1957 also had one of the strangest nominations in the history of the shorts category: an animated film getting nominated for the Live Action Short category. Of course, there's no rule that absolutely says I have to post one of these highlights in the year where the film was made. I just chose to do so*.

*However, there was an animated documentary that was nominated for the Best Documentary Short category back in 1991, but I never posted about it because it wasn't online. Of course it's online now so I'll have some catching up to do after this.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. How is it possible that an animated film gets nominated in the Live Action Short category? The answer lies in one of the most interesting of animation techniques: Pixilation

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Best Animated Short - 1956

The year 1956 is pretty significant even if neither of my parents were born that year. I did have an aunt born that year, on Christmas Eve no less. It was also the year that Mickey Mantle won the Triple Crown and his first MVP award. It remained so significant to him that he even dedicated a whole book about that season. I was reading through the book as a ten year old boy when I heard the devastating news that Mantle had died from metastatic liver cancer. It was very tragic to me. I never did get to meet my childhood baseball hero, but I did get to visit his grave over 15 years later.

And finally, 1956 was the earliest year where I saw every Best Picture nominee.