Thursday, February 6, 2014



FERAL - Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
GET A HORSE! - Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
MR. HUBLOT - Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
POSSESSIONS - Shuhei Morita
ROOM ON THE BROOM - Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

This year's crop of Animated Short films was not as strong as in prior years, and there was probably only one that I would recommend as not to be missed.  Thankfully, that one is a Disney film, so you have a pretty good chance of seeing it before one of their upcoming full length animated features.  The thing about the animated shorts is that they are rarely what we are used to when we think of animated stories.  The winners are not often children's stories, they are more often sentimental or ethereal and beautifully animated.

The Nominees

Feral is the story of a wild child living in the woods who is rescued by an adult who brings him to the city, cleans him up and tries to mainstream him.  You can take the child out of the woods, but you can't take the woods out of the child.  The animation is not the brightly colored kind, it's the more muted version where the faces are just non-specific shadows.  There is at least one of this style of animation each year.  This film was a sleeper for me.

Feral Movie Trailer

Get a Horse! was the best of the lot.  It was an incredibly creative take in which the black and white versions of our favorite Disney characters and scenarios are punched through the screen to the future where they are featured in color with modern technology.  They cross back and forth and it's both adorable and incredibly innovative.

Get a Horse! Trailer

Mr. Hublot was a high concept animated film set far in the future.  An OCD man spots a robot dog on the street and takes him into his home.  As he cares for the robot, the dog gets larger and larger so that he takes up most of the apartment space, and Mr. Hublot has to decide what to do as his solitary lifestyle is lovingly taken up by his companion.  The thing about this film is that it is high concept and the story is fine, but the animation is incredible.  It truly demonstrates the value of animation, where a set decorator and production designer would have a heck of a time accomplishing what this team of animators could with their imaginations and their computers.

Mr. Hublot Movie Trailer

Possessions was a truly interesting film.  A Japanese Mr. Fixit is traveling through a storm and he encounters the bringing to life of a Japanese legend where tools that are around for more than 100 years get up to all sorts of shenanigans.  As he goes from room to room, he calmly embraces the objects and tenderly repairs all broken parts, overcoming the obstacles one by one.  This film was the other animated film that I very much enjoyed, and if you're a recycling fanatic, you'll love watching a person who doesn't give up on things just because they are old.

Possessions Movie Trailer

Finally we reach Room on the Broom.  Every now and then, there has been a nominee which brings to life a children's book with a power cast producing the voice overs.  That's what Room on the Broom is this year, with Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins voicing the bird, and Simon Pegg and Gillian Anderson both participating, as well.  The problem with these and movies like The Gruffalo (nominated in 2010 and produced by the same team that made this one) is that they take a long time (30+ minutes) and even as a child when you are listening to your parent read the book to you, it doesn't last 30 minutes.  It is interesting at the outset, but just lasts too long for an animated short film to remain interesting, especially with a child's story.  The animation is well done and the actors are fun to listen to, but it's mediocre at best.

Room on the Broom Movie Trailer

In the end, it wasn't the strongest crop of films this year.  In fact, two of the "highly commended" films shown at the screening were far superior to some of those which made the final list of nominees.  Both "The Blue Umbrella" and "The Missing Scarf" were wonderful and creative films that I felt deserved one of the top 5 spots.  So come on Academy, where's my ballot?

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