Monday, December 4, 2017
Best Animated Short 2017 - The Shortlist
Yes, I am still alive. I will admit I've kind of fallen behind on the animation scene. When Cartoon Brew reported on the qualifying films this year I didn't feel like writing a post about all 63 of them. And Jerry Beck has been writing excellent articles about the films that qualified for the Academy Awards but were not nominated from 1947-1975, but I haven't written about them. Part of it may be related to the fact my computer has gotten agonizingly slow, but part of it may be because I've had my attention elsewhere, such as baseball. Still, I figured I'll write about the shortlist once it's been revealed. However, Thanksgiving came and went and there was still no sign of a shortlist. I was beginning to think that they wouldn't even announce a shortlist this year and I'll be REALLY out of the loop, but loyal reader Sean Ramsdell reported to me that the shortlist is FINALLY out. So I'll take this opportunity to give my quick thoughts about each of them, just like I have in the past few years.
Player's Tribune with a poem he wrote describing his love for the game. The article won wide acclaim, and one of the people it touched was legendary animator Glen Keane, who has made several films since striking out on his own including the Oscar shortlisted Duet. He went to Bryant and together they set out to make the poem into a film hand animated by Keane with music done by Oscar winning composer John Williams. The end result with the fluid animation from Keane and the rousing score from Williams and Kobe's heartfelt words was certainly stirring. There are a few videos of the film being shown at the Hollywood Bowl with a live orchestration and a live reading by Kobe, but I won't link to that. I'm sure you can find it yourself.
*And yes, I will point out the fact that the Lakers won the first game of the 2009 NBA Championships over the Orlando Magic on June 4, 2009, which is incidentally the day that Randy Johnson won his 300th career game.
Fox and the Whale
In a Heartbeat
Life Smartphone (Di Tou Ren Shen 低头人生)
Lost Property Office
The Lost Thing won an Oscar in 2010.) Anyways, the film is done in stop motion animation and everything was evidently made out of cardboard. I suppose it's fitting because cardboard is something that people often lose but really don't care that they lost. The character design is somewhat generic, but I said the same thing about More and that was one of the best animated shorts in the history of this category. We'll have to see what the finished product is like if and when it gets posted online.
Mike's New Car, One Man Band, Lifted, and Presto. That's not to say it's bad but it's something that have been done many times before. However, the film becomes more than just a slapstick title when it tries to get into the history of the bully and why he acts the way he does. That's one thing that is so complicated about bullying that the bullies often does so as a way to displace their negative feelings. It doesn't make what they do okay, but it also doesn't mean that they deserve to be universally condemned. Anyways, there's a lot more to say on this topic, but this probably isn't the place for it. There are a few bootlegged videos floating around online, but the film is available on the Cars 3 DVD and Blu Ray, so go watch it there.
Ron Koertge. The subject matter appealed to the filmmakers, and they worked together to make a stop motion animated film. Like Lost Property Office, the character design was a little bit unappealing, but the original poem was an emotional knockout, so I'm sure the actual film itself would do the original source material justice.
The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom made an adaptation of Revolting Rhymes co-directed by Jakob Schuh (who worked on The Gruffalo) and Jan Lachauer (who worked on Room on the Broom). The films aired on BBC, and they also qualified for the Academy Awards, and made it onto the shortlist. The film combined the many storylines into one interweaving narrative. However, the maximum length of a short film is 40 minutes, while Revolting Rhymes was split into two 30-minute shorts. The question I have is did the Academy consider both films, or did they take only Part One, or only Part Two? I suppose that's a question that won't be answered unless the film gets nominated and we see which part plays during the showings.
Well, here are the ten films. I hadn't taken a close look at all of the qualifying films so I can't say for sure whether or not these are the ten best, but none of them seem to be bad. I did note that the World of Tomorrow sequel The Burden of Other People's Thoughts was on the qualifying list but is clearly not in the shortlist, which is a shame. Olaf's Frozen Journey, the Frozen spin-off film that controversially played before Coco is also missing, but looking back I saw that it didn't qualify anyways. I've been so out of the loop I'm not going to venture a guess as far as who's going to get nominated, although it will probably end up being a bunch of the short films I haven't seen yet. It always seems to work out that way.