Daily Archives: February 18, 2017

2017 Oscar Nominated Short Animation Films

pear-cider-vinegar

I got a chance to see the short animated films nominated for an Oscar this year. Lucky for us TIFF Bell Lightbox plays these for us along with the short live action films. I have still to see the latter. At any rate because some the animated films are so short they enhance the showing with some honourable mentions. The five nominated films are: Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl, and Piper. Two are done by Pixar and one, Blind Vaysha, by Canada’s National Film Board. The image above comes from the longest and most adult of the five, Pear Cider and Cigarettes. This one is a very dark story of a man in total decline due to addiction, injury and depression. I suspect the latter will be the winning choice but I much preferred Borrowed Time which is also very serious but better animated and a more tightly told story. The animated films are definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. In fact, the short films are often more interesting than the feature length films. Even if you don’t get a chance to see these movies before the awards ceremony make an effort to track them down. They are often available on iTunes after the awards are done. I will not go into a description of each of the films other than to say that they are not necessarily for children and especially not Pear Cider. Brief descriptions of each film are below with my rankings.  I think animation is going to be an increasingly important film medium and it will not be long before they show up in the Best Picture category rather than relegated to their own animated film group. Do not assume that cartoons are only for kids.

Borrowed Time – dirs. Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj, USA, 7 minutes, English

A weathered sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. With each step forward, the memories come flooding back. Faced with his mistake once again, he must find the strength to carry on. My favourite.

Pearl – dir. Patrick Osborne, USA, 6 minutes, English

Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love, and finding grace in the unlikeliest of places. Boring

Piper – dir. Alan Barillaro, USA, 6 minutes, No Dialogue

Directed by Alan Barillaro and produced by Marc Sondheimer, Piper tells the story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore. Very cute and very funny. Kids would love it.

Blind Vaysha – dir. Theodore Ushev, Canada, 8 minutes, English

With one eye that can only see the past and one that can only see the future, a girl is tormented by two irreconcilable realities. Blind Vaysha is a vivid and gorgeously crafted 3D fable about living in the present. Interesting philosophical look at the nature of life.

Pear Brandy and Cigarettes – dir. Robert Valley, Canada and UK, 35 minutes, English

Drink and smoke – that’s what Techno Stypes liked to do. Drink, smoke… and fight. Except he was in no condition to fight. He was sick. Really sick. His disease had whittled him down to a shadow of his former self. Yeah, he was broken alright, what the hell was he fighting for anyway, and what was he still doing in China? His father had given me two clear instructions: get Techno to stop drinking long enough to receive his liver transplant, and get him back home to Vancouver. This was not going to be easy. This is maybe the favourite for an award but it is in my opinion too impressed with itself as a tough look at a tragic figure. I was not impressed and felt it was really pretty empty. The animation is interesting however.

Lion – Director, Garth Davis

lion

Lion is an interesting movie and actually quite enjoyable. Briefly it tells the story of a very young Indian child (Saroo) from a poor family in a poorer village who gets lost in the chaos of life in that country. He is rescued from a several potentially horrible fates but no one can find his family and he is too young to help them. He is adopted by a family in Australia where he is raised to adulthood. Haunted by his childhood memories of his mother and brother he finally decides to track them down. The movie is a great ad for Google Earth which is the tool he uses to search for the village he was born in. He is finally reunited with his mother and the film ends happily. This is no spoiler as the film is richer than the outcome of the search and there is much about the finding that I have not shared. The film is in two parts. The first hour follows the young boy as he is lost, escapes several potentially awful fates and ends up in Australia. We then jump ahead 20 years to him as a young adult and follow his efforts to seek out his roots. Dev Patel plays the older Saroo and has won a BAFTA for his performance but I actually liked Sunny Pawar who played Saroo as a child. I am unable to find out his age but did learn that he is very young, beat out 2000 other children to win the part and was unable to attend the US premiere of the film because he was denied a visa. Really??? The US is pretty messed up even before Trump. I am guessing the movie will not win Best Picture but it might very well win Best screenplay. It is adapted from an autobiographical story and is based on a true story. The latter fact is interesting because the story is an amazing adventure and helps prove the adage that truth is stranger than fiction or at least as strange.

Moonlight – Director, Barry Jenkins

moonlight

This movie is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and has had some over the top positive reviews including absolute raves from Cameron Bailey. The movie is running non-stop at the TIFF Bell Lightbox instead a number of other excellent films that audiences might like to see. I think I was influenced by all the buzz and was expecting to be blown away but…. Not so much. It’s a good movie but really not in a class with some of the other films that have been nominated. So far I the major awards ceremonies it has won only one for best actor. It was completely shut out at the BAFTA awards. So while I see the attraction I just don’t think Cameron got it right on this one. The movie is interesting in the attempt to trace the coming of age and maturing of a gay black man. Three actors portray the young man from childhood to teenager to young adult. It is a challenging theme and the film does an admirable job but in this year of very high quality nominees it just doesn’t cut it.