Skill and artistry in Oscar nominated animated short films

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Animation is a sophisticated art form often in service of the juvenile and elementary.

Short films are the exception to this. They invite the innovation and imagination that can, over time, seep into the mainstream. And they serve as platforms for a filmmaker’s skill and artistry.

There is a little of all of this in the Oscar nominated short films, showing in a program at the Oriental Theater this week. The live action Oscar nominated shorts are showing on a separate program.

Go to the theater’s website for more information.

The Oscar nominated animated short films are:

“The Dam Keeper” (18 minutes) This compassionate tale of friendship between a friendly fox cub and a bullied piglet goes to a very dark place. It is brightly colored and subtly lighted with a smudged pencil and chalk texture and watercolor elements. With a keyboard driven Philip Glass type soundscape by members of the Wisconsin band Phox. (Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi), USA. ***

“A Single Life” (2 minutes) Stop motion type technique applied to a tale about a life that passes by like a needle hopping across a 45 rpm record on a turntable. (Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen, The Netherlands) ***

“The Bigger Picture” (7 minutes) Stop motion and hand drawn film with surrealist elements and a roughed in palette that changes with each scene. Story of bickering brothers caring for their aged and infirm mother. (Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees, UK) ***1/2

“Me and My Moulton” (14 minutes) If Ikea animated its catalog it might have the clean lines of this colorful, post-modern style tale with nods to Dick and Jane, “Where’s Waldo?” and “The Sims.” It is told from a  young girl’s point of view of her embarrassing family – her father has a moustache! – and her feelings of not fitting in. The Moulton of the title is a strange looking brand of small wheel bicycle.(Torill Kove, Canada) ***1/2

“The Feast” (6 minutes) Soft focus digital Disney film is a “Lady and the Tramp” love story between man and beast. An emotionally evocative tale of the friendship a dog and his owner that is revealed through food they eat and someone they meet. (Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, USA). ***

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