The Power of Simplicity: Our Review of The Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 30, 2020
The Power of Simplicity: Our Review of The Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

Brevity often speaks to the heart of wit…

It’s that time of year as everyone is playing catch up and all the Oscar nominated short films are hitting the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a limited run.  In short film (animated) category every film is worthy but there are a couple that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Dcera (Daughter) takes us to a hospital room, the Daughter recalls a difficult childhood moment when as a little girl she tried to share her experience with an injured bird with her Father.  Told through stop motion animation and detailed puppetry, writer/director Daria Kashcheeva gives us a very stylized and effective ode to grief that never had to say a word.  Through it’s dirty but effective style it puts us in the place of people needing to make resolution with one another when they realize their options are increasingly limited.  3/5

Hair Love is the story of an African-American father learns to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. From filmmaker Matthew A Cherry this is a simple but amazingly sweet tale that speaks to the modern 21st Century family unit.  There’s simply something beautiful about seeing a little girl who wants to have her hair done just like her mom’s and this film is a stunning example that less can be more.  4/5

Kitbull is the story of a fiercely independent stray kitten and a chained-up pit bull experience friendship for the first time.  A rare effort from Pixar films that was both hand drawn and animated in 2D but it all just works so stunningly well as the hand drawn style really finds away to evoke genuine emotion.  If you’re an animal lover you’ll simply cry from minute one as you get behind these two lovable characters who don’t say a thing. I want to see a whole feature like this as it reminds us of the genuine power of animation. 5/5

Memorable takes us to painter Louis and his wife Michelle who are experiencing strange events. Their world seems to be mutating. Slowly, furniture, objects, and people lose their realism. They are “destructuring,” sometimes disintegrating.  This is the one that just didn’t work for us as it just feels like it’s trying too hard, sure the puppetry and the digital effects were first rate but the narrative just felt a little too esoteric and didn’t quite work for me in the short format.  2.5/5

Sister takes us to a moment of reflection as a man remembers his childhood and growing up with an annoying little sister in 1990s China. How would his life have been if things had gone differently?  In a simple black and white palour we get a genuinely complelling and existenal ‘what if’ kind of a moment that plays with a beautiful simplicity that never tries to broach into any kind of reality given the subject matter but keeps the emotions of the moment as high as they can possibly be.  3.5/5

Ultimately all of these shorts hold the common thread of hope throughout them and remind audiences of the simply yet beautiful moments that are right in front of us that we often take for granted.

Both the animated, live-action and documentary shorts are playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox as of tomorrow.

  • Release Date: 1/31/2020
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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