Movie Review ~ The 2015 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated



I first saw this short before Disney’s Big Hero 6 and was struck by how much it seemed to be Disney’s animated answer to Boyhood.  Following a dog from his days as a puppy relishing in the single life with his bachelor owner through marriages and children, there’s also an element of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree involved here as well.  The animation is swell (even if the 3D wasn’t working the first time I screened it and I ended up with a set of crossed-eyes) and who can resist an animated puppy?

The Dam Keeper
For my money, this is the short that felt the most complete to me and was delivered with the most heart.  Former PIXAR designers Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi helmed this tale of a pig that lives and works in a windmill that keeps a local town from the brink of darkness held back by a damn.  All alone in the world, the pig carries on the work of his family during the night but also has to go to school during the day.  With his smudged face and dirty clothes, he’s bullied and teased…until a new friend appears and offers him happiness like he’s never known.  With animation that looks like an oil painting, The Dam Keeper has beautiful images to go with a touching tale.

Me and My Moulton
Based on director Torill Kove’s life as a girl growing up in Norway, Me and My Moulton is an often humorous but ever so pedestrian take on the biographical narrative.  With animation that feels straight out of educational cartoons from the 80s, there’s a feeling that the short has sprung to life from the doodles the young girl made in a sketch pad – which serves the story well but didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would.  It’s fine…simple but fine.

A Single Life
The shortest of all nominees this year, A Single Life is a clever little morsel focused on time-travel at the hands of a mysterious record.  It’s fast and funny but lacking in the kind of overall substance that voters would look for in rewarding the creators.  Actually, it would be better off as an ad that played before a YouTube video…because it comes on so strong that you’d think twice before clicking “Skip Ad” to get to your clip of Ellen Degeneres scaring her audience with the help of Justin Bieber.

The Bigger Picture
With its blending of animation and still life scenes, The Bigger Picture may be the most innovative of the five nominees but it was also the only one that had me checking my watch to see how much of it was left.  The story of two brothers caring for their elderly mother (one’s devoted, one’s careless), it’s a chilly little film from the UK that’s notable for what director Daisy Jacobs was able to accomplish but rather dull when compared to its fellow nominees.

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