2020 Oscar-nominated Animated Short Films Review

On January 29, ShortsTV will debut THE 2020 OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS at the IFC Center in New York City and in select markets, and then roll out across the US and Europe on January 31. This marks the 15th consecutive year of the Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical experience. It is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the short film nominees in theaters before the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday February 9, 2020. They will also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The release ensures the greatest number of viewers can see all the nominees before the ceremony, while providing short filmmakers with an unprecedented opportunity to commercialize their movies. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation, or Documentary.

The Animated Short nominees are:

Dcera (Daugther) (director Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic, 15 min) – While her father is in the hospital, a daughter reflects on their disconnected relationship. This stop-motion short impresses with its production design, its telling of the story without dialogue, and its camera work, which constantly moves about. However, I can’t stand that camera technique in live action, so it distracted me here as well, since the movement adds nothing to the storytelling.

Hair Love (directors Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith, USA, 7 min) – A young girl wakes up on a special day and wants to get her hair done. Being African American, this isn’t a simple task so she looks at some video tutorials. Her father tries to help and is nearly overwhelmed by her hair in an amusing sequence. Using the video of the hair style his daughter selected, he is able to accomplish the task. The reason the day is special is very touching and cleverly written.

Kitbull (directors Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson, USA, 9 min) – From Pixar, this comedic short feels like the prologue to a story as it tells of the first time a stray kitten and a pitbull met. While not dealing with the subject directly, the story is a little dark for young children as the pitbull looks to have suffered injuries in a dog fight. I like the look of the animation, especially the impressionistic design of the kitten, because it doesn’t share the photorealistic appearance of other Pixar shorts.

Memorable (directors Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre, France, 12 min) – Another stop-motion short, this film tells the heartbreaking story of a painter whose mind is slipping away, which is illustrated in part through the use of CGI as he has trouble identfying things. The fine detail on the character figures, evoking Van Gogh and Cubism, is impressive.

Sister (director Siqi Song, China/USA, 8 min) – A Chinese man reflects on growing up as a child with a younger sister in the 1990s and ponders how life could have been different. The plotting pulls the viewer into their lives, allowing a twist in the story to be surprising yet believable. Using felt, the characters are brought to life. The movement in the strands of material adds a vitality to the figures.

All these nominated shorts are worthy Oscar winners. If I had to vote, my choice would be Memorable on the strength of its animation and story, followed by Hair Day. Good luck in your Oscars pool.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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