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Ranking the 5 Oscar-Nommed Animated Shorts

Ranking the 5 Oscar-Nommed Animated Shorts

Although Disney’s Feast has been the presumptive frontrunner for its inventive technique and hilarious story, don’t be surprised if  “The Bigger Picture” wins the Oscar. It’s got a clever hand-drawn/stop-motion look and a funny and poignant story about two estranged brothers coping with their aging mom.

1. “The Bigger Picture” (Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees): Jacobs learned how to paint watching her late grandmother, Eileen, who mentored her, and this short is a beautiful tribute to her gran. Dark emotions take on animated importance as tea keeps on pouring and filling the room and a Hoover sucks up everything.

“The painting and animation comes naturally. What was harder was incorporating the stop-motion element because we’d have quite a lot of things we were focusing on with the animation: characters were speaking, their hands were going in and out, picking things up as well, two of them at the same time,” Jacobs explains.

2. “The Dam Keeper” (Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi): These former Pixar art directors blend hand-drawn with lush brushstrokes to bring this Dutch-inspired folk tale to life about an unsung hero combating pollution. Pig works tirelessly to keep the sails of a large windmill spinning to protect his desolate town from poisonous clouds despite an indifferent public and bullying.

“In building a crew for ‘The Dam Keeper,’ it was a volunteer project and we turned to the community a lot more than using [our friends at Pixar],” says Kondo. “Growth was a big part of our crew and who we selected to bring on. We kept asking what can you gain by working on this project? Just as we about animation as illustrators.”

3. “Feast” (Patrick Osborne): The love of food and dogs turned into a clever and romantic conceit for Osborne (head of animation on the Oscar-winning “Paperman” and co-head of animation on the Oscar-contending “Big Hero 6”). Staying exclusively with Winston’s POV, he utilizes a quick-cutting, mockumentary style and a look comprised of warm colors, flat shapes and shallow depth of field.

“To me when you’re working on a piece of artwork, you’re constantly interacting with it, and we’ve been developing our tools on the CG side where you’re not waiting for stuff while you’re working,” Osborne suggests. “The computer is fast and it’s interactive and you’re able to design as you go for every frame, so you’re not influenced to make other choices just because it’s slower. In fact, when animators were working, they didn’t see shading and shadow: they only saw silhouette and shape. They were able to be fast and only shapes went upstream, not dimension.”

4. “Me and My Moulton” (Torill Kove): Oscar winner Kove (“The Danish Poet”) completes her autobiographical trilogy about growing up in Norway in the ’60s with the brightest-looking and most humorous hand-drawn short. It’s about three sisters growing up with unconventional parents and the stir they cause when asking for a Moulton bike. 
“I had a mother who was really ahead of her time, full-time job in a profession that was totally male dominated,” Kove recalls. “And here I am, the middle daughter who just wishes she’d stay home and make me lunch. And I find that really complicated. That is a voice that we don’t here anymore from anybody. It’s a forbidden territory to entertain the idea that some kids would like their mom to be home. I realize this in my aspirations for what kind of mother I want to be [for my 12-year-old daughter].”
5. “A Single Life” (Joris Oprins): The dark horse comes from Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins and Markieke Blaauw: three young partners who run a Netherlands-based design studio. In ‘A Single Life,’ Pia finds a strange vinyl single. If she spins the record forward, she becomes older. If she skips backward, she gets younger. The CG short (which played in front of blockbusters in Holland theaters) has a quirky stop-motion vibe and a catchy title tune composed by Roggeveen.
“For everyone, it’s really curious what their life would be like in the future,” Roggeveen relates. “It would be a big change to jump into the future and also really weird to experience your childhood again. And all the different phases in her life have different angles that could help us with the story. It’s about how fast your life can be over, so I think it’s a good thing that it’s over with a bang.”


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