The Academy Awards are tomorrow night and I spent some time today watching the shorts that have been nominated in the categories of Live Action and Animated. I went to the theater to see the Shorts.TV program of the Live Action. In past years, they had both the Live Action and Animation together, but that was not how the show went tonight. So when I got home, I went online searching for the animation shorts to watch. I found four of the five, with Boxballet being the only one that I couldn’t find.
So I am going to rank these in each category from my most to least favorite, I will then say which one I think will take the Oscar. I am starting with my favorite in each category.
#1. Please Hold. This futuristic satire focused on the police/law enforcement system if automated, using drones and AIs. The film can be frustrating as we are seeing everything through the eyes of Mateo (Erick Lopez) after he is arrested for a crime that he has no idea about, and none of the automatic technology will inform him why he was arrested. There is a racial profiling beat to the story as well. One more step until our AI masters are in control.
#2. The Long Goodbye. This features an amazing performance from Riz Ahmed as his character’s family is arrested and/or murdered by the racist and Islamophobic police in London. The short begins slowly, but the last half is as powerful and crushing as you will find with Ahmed ending it with a monologue of lyrics from his 2020 album of the same name.
#3. On My Mind. A sad, apparently homeless man enters a bar for some whiskey and wants to sing Always on My Mind by Elvis Presley on the Karaoke machine. He wants to sing the song for his love. This is an emotional short that, I don’t mind saying, had me tear up a bit.
#4. Ala Kachuu- Take and Run This is the longest of the shorts at 31 minutes, but it uses its time well. It is a tragic story of a young girl who is just starting her life, taking a test for a scholarship, when she is kidnapped and taken to be married to a man she never met before. This is something that does go on and is accepted by the families. It is a horrific situation, including how the women are expected to be wives to these men. The first half was a little slow for my taste, but the lead performance by Alina Turdumamatova is sensational.
#5. The Dress. Anna Dieduszycka plays Julka, a woman of short stature who worked at a hotel as a chamber maid. The film is about the desire of Julka to find someone to love, but finding out that there is a lot of pain and hatred directed toward her. This short is certainly tragic and difficult to watch at times. Anna Dieduszycka is tremendous in the short.
All five of these shorts were excellent. Any of them could easily wind up winning the Oscar tomorrow night. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that it is going to The Long Goodbye mainly because of Riz Ahmed. My second choice is The Dress because of the situation that Anna Dieduszycka finds herself in. I would be surprised if the other three were to win. I think it is down to these two.
As I mentioned, I was unable to see Boxballet so it is automatically #5 on the list. Three of the remaining four animation shorts are weird and downright inappropriate for kids. The topics involve sex, violence, nudity, animal cruelty and more. My eyes bulged out a couple of times while watching these.
#1. Affair of the Art. This was my favorite one. It was art from the New Yorker and it told the story of a woman who loved to draw and her family who had other obsessive compulsions. It was laugh out loud funny and shocked into silence at the same time.
#2. Robin Robin. This one was on Netflix and is the sole animated short that is safe for a family to watch together. Robin is a bird that has been raised with a family of mice and she is not a very good mouse. There is a good message of finding your own way in the world and it includes Gillian Anderson voicing a particularly evil cat.
#3. Bestia. This one is quite warped. This short followed the life of a Chilean secret police agent and her dog, which does not sound that bad… but… honestly, there were some intimate moments between the woman and her dog… and I do mean intimate. There is violence and nudity and bestiality. No words or dialogue in this short. Just some disturbing imagery.
#4. The Windshield Wiper. Another one with some hugely adult themes going on, The Windshield Wiper may be the most visually stunning of the animated shorts. The narrative is very disjointed as the short is a series of vignettes that explore the concept of love. It would be a very progressive animation short if it wins.
If the Academy is looking for something different, the The Windshield Wiper is taking this Oscar. If the topics scare them away (certainly a possibility) then you will see Robin Robin take the statue. Even though I was not a huge fan of The windshield Wiper, there is little debate that this short is the most original, most groundbreaking animation of the year.
Now watch, they’ll give it to Boxballet.