If you are curious to watch these short, you can rent them in the following link.
BEST ANIMATED SHORTS:
And so, we start with the first Canadian import.
Vaysha was born with two sights. With her left eye, she sees the past. With her right eye, she sees the future. Everyone she meets is both a child and an elder, which proves a problem when suitors try to court her. This creates a sense of blindness for Vaysha, walking into trees because she can only see it as a seedling and a stump. Her double vision also makes it hard to sleep when her dreams consists of both the dawn of man and the apocalypse. It’s up to 3 medicine women to bring her eyes into the present.
This must be a horrifying way to live. Vaysha’s unable to live in the present, seeing only what was and what will be. It gets so unbearable that Vaysha considers gouging one of her eyes out. Too bad each eye presents its own problems. If she takes out her left eye, she sees only a bleak world. If she takes out her right eye, it’s going to be awkward to see her parents as infants. Either way, she’s still not living in the present.
The animation takes on the style of an old wood cut art style, fitting with the folk tale storytelling. You get lots of beautiful images, including the scene of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The animation also exaggerates movements, especially with character’s stretching their necks. Adding to the folksy tale is the narration by Caroline Dhavernas.
In a way, this feels like a folk tale, the kind cultures would tell to teach children a lesson. This lesson: “Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” It sure gets the message across with its excellent animation.
Here’s the first of two Pixar shorts in this year’s category. It wasn’t shown before any feature length films, probably for good reason. This is the darkest short Pixar has ever done, and probably not suitable for kids.
A weathered old sheriff returns to a top of a canyon to confront a traumatic memory. In his childhood, he and his father chased some bandits on a bandwagon when he fell off, causing a chain reaction that led to his father trapped on the edge of the cliff. With each step, the sheriff confronts a terrible instance of this accident. It cultivates in a shocking and fatal accident. This sheriff has lived with the guilt his whole life, and now he’s stands over the edge of the cliff.
Pixar always deliver brings us superb short films thanks to their stunning animation and articulate storytelling. Never have they done a short film as adult as this. Directors Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj bring up themes of survivor’s guilt and grief over the course of 7 short minutes. The flashback scenes are fast paced and gripping, each one bringing more sense of dread. It all ends in a shocking moment that would scar anyone.
You’ll never forget this short tale of tragedy and forgiveness. You can watch the short film on Vimeo.
Another great Canadian short, this one a gritty character study of a hard living, self-destructive friend.
Writer/Director Robert Valley recalls his friendship with Techno Styles. In high school, Techno was a star athlete who seemed to be the fastest and strongest person in school. The only thing Rob could do better than Techno is draw, which they bond over. Techno was the type of person who would skateboard through traffic or dive from atop a cliff, which makes him a legend among his peers. But his daredevil antics caught up with him via a car accident, changing his life forever.
In Valley’s own words, “Techno seems to be a guy both completely out of control and completely in control at the same time.” From what we can see, he’s either very lucky or very unlucky. The accident left him with a permanent limp and an addiction to pain killers. On the other hand, he manage to win millions of dollars in a couple of lawsuits, allowing him to live the high life. But one of the lawsuits came from a malpractice that left him looking like a Simpsons character. And then there’s his alcoholic and drug addiction.
Techno doesn’t reenter Robert’s life until he gets a phone call from Techno’s father. Turns out Techno is in China waiting for a liver transplant and his father has Rob travel across the continent to bring him home. This begins a frustrating process where Robert tries to get Techno to stop drinking long enough to get his surgery.
A character designer, Valley brings on his trademark sharp, elongated animation style he used for Gorillaz and Aeon Flux. This style is perfect for Techno, whose scrawny demeanor emphasizes his ailing health. Valley also incorporates a film noir style for the environments, showing characters in silhouette in front of neon lights. Thus, he gives us some stunning images, including a montage of Techno driving into darkness, each time wearing a different heavy metal logo on his t-shirt. Valley also narrates the story with a rough, whiskey voice that fits perfectly with the noir style.
Pearl Cider and Cigarettes is the cinematic equivalent to a glass of whiskey. Through Techno, Valley reveals the complications of being friends with a self-destructive addict. You can watch this short on Vimeo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our first Oscar Nominated short film to incorporate 360 VR.
We travel through the life of a guitarist, his daughter Sara, and their car. They start out living happily on the road, with the dad earning money through concerts and busking. He’s living the dream. But after a long time on the road, he switches to a conventional suburban life for his daughter’s sake. Then the film switches to a teenage Sara, who returns to the road with some friends on their own journey to stardom.
The film takes place completely inside the car, telling the story through a montage of life events set to Alexis Harte’s “No Wrong Way Home.” Though only lasting a few seconds, each moment is a beautiful and recognizable piece of everyday life. With little dialogue, director Patrick Osborne’s able to tell a brief story in seconds. One perfect example is one Christmas on the road, when the Guitarist looks at a family home and his face shows his concern about how he’s raising his daughter. In the next shot, we see him in a collar shirt and tie moving into the house.
As I’ve said, this animated short was shot with VR. Available on YouTube, you can move your IPad around to get a 360 view of the inside of the car. So, you change watch the Guitarist driving along, then turn back to see Sara playing around in the back. This way, you are given many choices to see this film. You can either watch the story unfold, or you can just sit back and see the world go by the side window. You can also look at the floor to see all the junk gets left there. It’s best to watch with a VR system.
Pearl is a simple yet relatable coming of age story of growing up and achieving your dreams. Like I said, you can watch this on YouTube.
And now we have our inevitable Disney/Pixar short usually shown before a feature length. In this case, it’s the short film shown before Finding Dory.
On the California seashore, the sandpipers rush across the shore searching for tiny clams to feed on. On this day, baby Piper will no longer rely on her mother to feed her. Now she joins in her first hunt. Too bad she doesn’t get the part where you’re supposed to retreat when the waves come in. After being washed ashore, Piper develops a fear of water. She doesn’t want to go near the waves, yet she still needs to eat. She comes to overcome her fears with the help of some tiny hermit crabs.
Pixar scores again with another example of excellent animation and simple storytelling. The animation looks incredibly realistic, with stunning beach sides and photo realistic birds. Piper is especially adorable, especially in the amusing moment when she’s washed ashore, feathers a fluttered. I’m also amazed how they can capture tiny clams making bubbles under the sand.
Piper so an amusing adorable little appetizer before the main course of Finding Dory.
Who Will Win?
This award will most likely go to Piper because, Disney. But I feel Pear Cider and Cigarettes is more deserving of the award, with its film noir stylized animation and complex character study.