Getting to watch the 2016 Oscar Nominated Shorts, Animation, was so much fun! Seeing the creativity of the artists as they tell the stories I find so interesting and intriguing. Eight very well done shorts were shown; however only five are up for winning the Oscar: Bear Story, Sanjay’s Super Team, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, World of Tomorrow, and Prologue.
One thing that struck me as I was watching these brilliantly made shorts, was that most of them while being humorous, were also sad or even depressing. World of Tomorrow (WoT) had many fun moments, like when the Emily Clone reads a letter to little Emily Prime: “Oh, oh God, oh Holy Mother of God….”. And when Emily Clone, in a matter of fact tone of voice, states she fell in love with a rock during her first work assignment on the moon most of the audience laughed. But throughout this narrative to Emily Prime, we see that the future is not good or hopeful. The world is about to end, clones are desperately trying to save themselves through memories uploaded, and Life is sad and long, and then we all die horribly.
The Russian nominee, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (WCLWC) has many funny parts. We don’t learn the main two characters’ names, just their numbers: 1203 and 1204. As the story unfolds we discover that they are the best two cosmonauts in training. They are friends, they train and compete together, they room together, they bounce on their beds together like kids – pretending they are up in space with no gravity to pull them down. Finally they get to suit up! Everyone cheers for them as they make their way to the command center. 1203 gets to go into the rocket first, making faces at 1204 as the elevator takes him to the pilot seat. Everyone is excited. The launch is a success, and 1203 is shown holding his book “We Can’t Live without Cosmos”. But then contact is lost, and we see the book, damaged, floating in space. 1204 is so depressed and sad, he doesn’t speak, he hardly moves, they can’t get him out of his suit, he is despondent. It turns out that 1203 and 1204 have been friends since childhood.
Prologue, from the UK, is not all that comedic. Actually it’s not funny at all. But it is a sad view of Life. Now, I could go all “literature teacher” on you, pointing out how the story has the age old theme of Man vs Man, or even Nature vs. Man, and the symbolism of the little child witnessing the horrific deaths, or the importance of the old grandmother figure at the end with the knowing, wise look on her face. But I won’t bore you with that. And as a history scholar, I could go into the significance of naked warriors, but that might get distracting so I’ll pass on lecturing you about the history of hand to hand combat.
All of the eight animated shorts were very well done I think. The use of humor in all the stories except Prologue of course were excellent. Catch It, from France, had me laughing hard. The color red stood out, and the animals and reactions reminded me of Wile E Coyote and his many “accidents”. It was animated to look realistic, and I thought it was the most realistic looking film of the eight. Other more realistically animated films were The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse, If I was God, and Bear Story. WoT, If I Was God, Loneliest Stoplight, and Prologue were more sketches and line drawings. Sanjay’s Super Team and WCLWC were more like cartoons in style.
Which do I think will win? I have no idea. All were so good, with good storylines and great use of animation and color. I am a sarcastic person by nature, and so the most entertaining for me were Loneliest Stoplight, WoT, and If I was God. Sanjay’s Super Team was well done; Pixar I’ve long been a fan of since the shorts they used to do before movies like Cars and A Toy Story. The story of Sanjay and his relationship with his dad was touching, and entertaining. So I guess I will be rooting for WoT and Sanjay. All I know is whoever is judging these animated shorts will have a difficult time in choosing just one as an Oscar Winner for 2016.