A record 92 animated shorts qualified for Oscar consideration this season, and Monday’s shortlist of 10 ran the gamut from unconventional studio entries to acclaimed indies from around the globe to experimental festival faves. And themes of inclusion, diversity, regret, and miscommunication found their way into many of them.
“Hair Love,” from director Matthew Cherry, concerns a single Black father trying to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. It was financed through Kickstarter, animated by Six Point Harness, and distributed by Sony Pictures Animation.
“Kitbull” (from Pixar’s experimental SparkShorts program), directed by story artist Rosana Sullivan (“Toy Story 4”), is a quirky 2D short about the unlikely friendship between a kitten that lives in garbage cans and a pitbull in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The Natiional Film Board of Canada
“The Physics of Sorrow,” from the National Film Board of Canada and Oscar-nominated director Theodore Ushev (“Blind Vaysha”), tackles another adaptation from Bulgarian novelist Georgi Gospodinov. This time Ushev conjures a more semi-autobiographical, melancholy story about lost youth and rootless adulthood in another country. And what’s remarkable is Ushev’s animated experiment with hot wax painting to evoke the look of Egyptian encaustic portrait painting of the deceased.
Another NFB contender, “Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days,” directed by Regina Pessoa, pays tribute to the Portuguese animator’s eccentric uncle (obsessed by numbers), who inspired her to be an animator (“Tragic Story with Happy Ending”).
In “Mind My Mind,” Dutch director Floor Adams explores how difficult, flirting, sex, and romantic relationships are for autistic people, whose brains are wired differently and have to go off-script in social situations.
With “Sister,” director Siqi Song explores China’s controversial “one child” policy with an inventive use of stop-motion designed with felt. A grown man looks back at his annoying little sister and ponders how things might’ve been different.
“Dcera (Daughter)” from the Czech Republic and director Daria Kashcheeva, is an acclaimed stop-motion student film about two characters unable to communicate throughout their entire relationship. It’s documentary-like with lots of hand-held camera work.
In “Hors Piste,” made at French animation school Ecole des Nouvelles Images (directed by Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, Oscar Malet), an attempted mountain rescue goes horribly wrong in hysterical fashion.
Contenders listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.
“Mind My Mind”
“The Physics of Sorrow”
“He Can’t Live without Cosmos”
“Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days”