This Oscar season has been more painful than the last one but worry not! It also means that it is time for regular human beings to feast their eyes on the animated shorts that the Academy likes. As usual, they picked shorts that represent different animation methods, although it seems more of a mixed bag this year. But let me write about these shorts to see whether you should watch this before catching the documentary or the live ones.
Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour is getting a lot of flack online but it’s fine. I like how it plays with animal proportions and uses a more muted color palette. That comes in handy as it shows a dog, Dr. Clement (Ryan Beil) tries to, shall I say, corral a group therapy session with other animals.
We’ve all seen Domee Shi and Becky Neimann-Cobb’s Bao, and I’m happy that this is one of three shorts that have Asian representation. It also represents the Falun Gong and Toronto’s Chinatown East neighborhood. Telling the story of an auntie (Sindy Lau) who finds an anthropomorphic dumpling also means that it will show some good Chinese food. The only reason that this is my least favorite short here is because Pixar’s style is tiring.
Things get much better with Louise Bagnall and Nuria Gonzales Blanco’s Late Afternoon. It’s about an old Irish woman, Emily (Fionnula Flanagan) remembering her past despite having Alzheimer’s disease. This is gorgeous, as Bagnall and Gonzales Blanco uses pastel colors. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did this by hand.
The program’s highlight is Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas’ One Small Step. It’s about a Chinese cobbler, Chu, living in San Francisco and his daughter, Luna, who wants to be an astronaut. They reinvent the idea of a foreground and background in animation. Other animators should also take note of how they use modern color contrasts. Bao‘s probably going to win because it’s Pixar but I’m rooting for this one instead.
Lastly there’s Trevor Jimenez’ Weekends, about a child shuffling between his divorced mother and his father’s places. There are moments of slack in the story but I like its textural animation style. Jimenez adds things in his mise-en-scene that makes this more authentic. The mother’s house isn’t typically suburban, and the drive to Toronto feels as emotional as it does when I did it for the first time.
- Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family, fantasy
- Release Date: 2/8/2019
- Directed by: Alison Snowden, Bobby Pontillas, Domee Shi, Louise Bagnall, Trevor Jimenez
- Starring: Fionnula Flanagan, Ryan Beil, Sindy Lau
- Produced by: Jeremy Slome, John Lasseter, Michael Fukushima, Nuria González Blanco, Shaofu Zhang
- Written by: Alison Snowden, Domee Shi, Louise Bagnall, Trevor Jimenez
- Studio: Cartoon Saloon, National Film Board of Canada, Pixar, Taiko Studios