This year, I was lucky enough to be able to review the 2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films. First up is the animated series which consists of 5 very different and unique films.
Blind Vaysha (2016) is the story of a girl that is born with a unique ability. Through her left eye, she can only see the past, and through her right eye, she can only see the future. The narrative follows her as she progresses through life and struggles with this ability. The story, while original and creative, did feel a bit flat to me as it lacked any significant character arc. The film takes a very classic approach to its animation style. It uses a hand-drawn flipbook style of animation that fits beautifully with the film's narrative. The story is told through a third person voice over approach which I found to be a bit dull and I found myself wanting more emotion from the narrator's voice. I give Blind Vaysha a 6 out of 10.
Borrowed Time (2016) is the story of an old man who is revisiting the site of a tragic event that occurred earlier in his life. With Oscar-nominated animation shorts, you can always expect creativity and excellent animation. Borrowed Time checks both of these boxes, but what surprised me about this short is how emotionally invested you become in these characters in such a short time and with only seven lines of dialogue. Borrowed Time is an excellent short with a beautiful and tragic story. I give Borrowed Time a 9 out of 10.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes (2016) tells the story of Techno, a recently deceased friend of the narrator, Rob. The excellent narrative explores Techo's life as he spirals out of control with lots of sex, drugs, and alcohol. The story soon takes a serious turn as Rob must travel to China to help Techno quit drinking so he can receive a liver transplant and return home to Canada. Pear Cider and Cigarettes is the longest film in this year's animated series, and honestly, I am glad it was so long as it had a lot of interesting and very well written story to tell. The first person narrative approach through both with the voice over and the animation made this film stand alone from the other films in this series. The narrative has excellent character development for both Rob and Techno which caused me to be truly invested in the both the characters and the story. The animation which made great use of bright vibrant colors was paired beautifully with a solid voice over performance by the narrator and director, Robert Valley. I give Pear Cider and Cigarettes a 9 out of 10.
Pearl (2016) centers around a young girl and her father who survive as traveling street musicians who live out of their car. The story is told from the perspective of the car they lived in when the girl was a child. It progresses through the young girls rebellious teen years and on to adulthood. Pearl takes unique approach to its animation style. While I did love the flat look of the animation, I struggled with the blown out colors and harsh lighting which made it difficult to pick out detail in the fast paced scenes. The saving graces for this short is the very heartwarming narrative and the excellent songs that parallel the short. I give Pearl a 7 out of 10.
Piper (2016) is a Disney Pixar short that I was lucky enough to see on the big screen before Finding Dory (2016). It is an incredibly simple and cute narrative of a baby bird that is learning to fend for itself. Along with the adorable story, Piper offers the best animation I have ever seen. When I was watching this on the big screen I truthfully was questioning if the landscape, specifically the water and the sand, were animated or live action. It is that good. I give Piper a 9 out of 10, you will be smiling and laughing out loud from cuteness overload.
Which of these short films are you hoping will take home this years Oscar?