The short film categories in the Oscars are a bit of an oddity. They used to be much more important way back in the day when a short film usually played before the feature presentation at theaters. But today the only Pixar has maintained this tradition consistently. Thankfully, now with the Internet these short films have become available once more for all to see that is if you can find them and if someone was kind enough to share it. Otherwise, the only other way to see them is at a special screening of some kind. That is how us, here at The MovieWatch were able to see them, and here is our reviews:
Day & Night
Perhaps the only of the nominees you would be familiar with. If you saw Toy Story 3, it was the short that came right before it. Like Wall-E, I found this short to be a testament of how far Pixar’s creativity can stretch. And just like in Wall-E, a preachy third act makes what would have otherwise been a perfect film stumble and trip on its own audacity. It is the story of Day and Night, two entities that should not know the other exists. When they meet for the first time suspicion and jealousy make way to the most creative penis sizing competition.
If you live in the UK you might be familiar with this short, which premiered as a Christmas special. Or at the very least you might have read the children’s book, it is based off, at some point. It tells the story of a mouse who outwits a fox, an owl, and a snake by telling them he is friends with a gruesome beast he calls the Gruffalo. When it turns out the Gruffalo is real the little mouse might have run out of luck. The animation is CGI but its texture is so rich you might mistake it for stop motion. Personally I think this one has the Oscar in hand.
A quirky parody of those 1950s animated educational videos, which promotes the time-honored traditions of polluting, dumping, wasting, and destroying the environment. Preachy? Certainly. Fun? Yep. Will it win? Unlikely. Although the quality is higher, the short simply feels like a You-Tube animation drawn to make a point.
The Lost Thing
Every now and then there is a nominee that makes your scratch your head in wonder asking, “how the hell was that nominated?” This is one of those. It is the story of a man who finds a lost thing, and although he doesn’t know what this thing is decides to keep the thing. It kind of reminded me of English class in Middle School when we were supposed to come up with ideas for a creative writing assignment and you knew the least creative person in the room was the one that explained his story as follows, “it is about someone and then something happens, so that someone has to do something to fix that other thing because otherwise something will happen”. Blank… insert plot here.
Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar A Journey Diary)
This film more mediums than any other film before it. It has everything from CG to animated weaving on canvass. It is an impressive work, and perhaps it belongs more in museum than in a movie theater. If you can guess from the title, the film is about a voyage to Madagascar. It is entirely in French, Malagasy, and probably a few languages more. I didn’t understand it much, but that is the point. It is about the feeling you get while traveling in a place were you are unfamiliar with the language, the sounds, the sights, and smells of the place. You become overwhelmed with new sensations, experienced travelers are able to cope with it but it is common to see the inexperienced one hold a cloth to his nose and cover his eyes. If anything this film recreates such feelings quite accurately.