Lyric review: The Oscar’s animated shorts pack a punch

Ty Davis

While the feature films at the Oscars may receive most of the attention, it’s important to remember many filmmakers build their careers from shorts, and sometimes these short snippets can have a powerful impact.

Here are the five short film nominations presented by the Academy Awards.

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“Animal Behavior” – Alison Snowden and David Fine

A group of animals gather together to discuss issues with chronic behavior innate to their species. The set-up lends itself decently to comedy, and the short plays with its premise as you would expect while also hitting the typical group therapy jokes. While there is nothing overtly wrong with “Animal Behavior” it definitely comes off as the weakest of the Oscar’s Animated Shorts nominees. The short offers little outside of its joke set-up, which is trite if I’m being honest, and just doesn’t offer the same heft or depth that the other nominees do.

“Bao” – Produced by Pixar, written and directed by Domee Shi

The strength of the short format is the ability to explore certain topics in ways you might not have enough time to do in a conventional film. Bao utilizes that fact to put an imaginative spin on a familiar topic. Utilizing an animation with the signature Pixar polish, Domee Shi tells the story of short that is funny, weird and pulls at the heartstrings.

These Shorts are playing at The Lyric Cinema

“Late Afternoon” – Written & Directed by Louise Bagnall

“Late Afternoon” is one of those aforementioned shorts that explores a topic seen in feature films, but rarely explored with any amount of depth. “Late Afternoon” is a journey through an elderly woman’s memories as she struggles with dementia. If that weren’t enough,  “Late Afternoon” is a visual smorgasbord, mimicking a variety of physical styles like watercolor, acrylic, crayon and more.

 

“One Small Step” – Taiko Studios

A tragic yet endearing entry about following your dreams, “One Small Step” brings a level of polish yet uniqueness not seen from studios like Taiko. While offering an all too relatable story of failing to meet one’s own expectations, Taiko offers a short with a soft 3d animation that rivals the beauty of stills.

 

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“Weekends” – Written and Directed by Trevor Jimenez

“Weekends” tells the story of a small boy traveling between his mother’s house and his father’s apartment after a divorce in which his father gains custody during the weekends. At times funny, nostalgic, depressing and horrifying, “Weekends” takes you on a journey of adult life through the perspective of a child. While utilizing a wide yet muted palate, “Weekends” is animated in this beautifully rough animation style that seems to emulate a mixture of pencil and acrylic paint. This short is definitely one of the better nominees.

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @tydavisACW.