I got very excited yesterday. I found out that iTunes had 4 of the 5 films nominated in this year's Best Animated Short category.
They've got Let's Pollute, Day & Night, Madagascar (carnet de voyage) and The Lost Thing. The only one not available on iTunes is The Gruffalo - but I saw that at Christmas on BBC America.
Unfortunately they're not available to rent as I have been doing with other Oscar nominated movies, but you can buy them for $1.99 (I'm assuming they're available on iTunes UK too?). So in my on-going mission to create a reason/excuse not to watch Black Swan, I decided instead of going to see that I'd buy all four and watch them instead.
They are on at an arty cinema across the other side of Phoenix but it would be $7 for the ticket plus petrol money to get there and back, and if any of them were as good as my favourite animated short Boundin' or previous winners of this Oscar, Wallace and Gromit, they'd be worth owning to amuse me and the kids on journeys.
Since then I've discovered I can rent ALL 5 for just $4.99 in total on my cable on demand channel - doh! Oh well....this is what I'm going to do this afternoon with the 5 nominated Live Action Shorts.
Aaaaanyway...here's what I thought of the 5 contenders:
This was ok, very reminiscent of all those public information films you used to watch (especially in the school hall as a special end of term treat before an informational Disney short featuring Goofy or Donald Duck going back in time or explaining sports....or was that just what we did in Teesside in the 70s?)
It clearly has a message and I have to admit after watching it I did go round and switch some lights off the kids had left on ;) If you are watching it with kids there's a few instances of the word 'crap' (written and spoken) that really didn't need to be included.
It was well made, but I didn't feel it was the best of the bunch.
Day and Night
You've probably seen this one. It's a Pixar short and was shown at the start of Toy Story 3.
It's very good, as you'd expect from Pixar. Very well made, funny, with great use of sound effects to help tell the story. It has a nice message (which I won't spoil if you haven't seen it) plus there's very clever toilet humour that isn't crude but will have all the family laughing. Yep, I had to single that out as a winning point didn't I :)
I've got a feeling this may win the Oscar, and though I really like it - it wasn't my ultimate favourite.
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (a Journey Diary)
This is another ok one - it has the feel that it might be a final year project for art or film degree students...it's a little rough around the edges especially compared the numbers of people and experience of the Pixar short. Perhaps that's not a totally fair criticism. But it was interesting - there are lots of different animation techniques used - black & white sketching, watercolours, embroidery and even stop-frame action with toy cars at one point. The animation interprets live soundtrack from the trip and it does feel very much like a moving/talking scrapbook. There is so much to see in every shot, especially lots of written French descriptions (though the soundtrack is subtitled) that I wish my French was better to take it all in.
It was interesting, the music's great but possibly my least favourite of the five, which isn't disputing it's quality for what it was.
You'll have to forgive me because I'm doing this one from memory and from my knowledge of the original storybook.
Well, if you saw it at Christmas on BBC One (taking the usual Wallace and Gromit spot before Doctor Who...or was it on Boxing Day, sorry I'm rambling) you'll know it's quality. Beautifully made, great sound and music, voiced by some of the best British actors and actresses (one at least up for her own Oscar for The King's Speech) and with a good solid story.
This had been my favourite before watching any of the others ;) and I think the Oscar might be its....if not snatched by Day and Night....but you've guessed it, it's not my favourite because the final short is:
The Lost Thing
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one! It's really beautiful and magical...and I'm very glad I bought it on iTunes because I'll definitely watch it over and over again.
The only thing I can possibly find at fault with it (and forgive me, because if you know me you'll know this is a thing of mine) is there are a couple occasions when the sound mix isn't quite right - Tim Minchin narrates the whole thing wonderfully, and the music is lovely too - but just once or twice, the balance between the two aren't quite right.
But this is the tiniest of grumbles - it is otherwise perfect and lovely and enchanting and most definitely the animated short I'll be rooting for on Sunday night!
Here's some stuff about Tim recording the narration on his website.
Right, I'm off to go and watch the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts now...back soon...
Btw if you're interested in any of the 15 Oscar shorts - there's a special website with all the details, some clips, your chance to predict the winners and where you can catch them for yourself: www.shortshd.com/theoscarshorts
Also if you've never seen Boundin' you really, really should - it never fails to make me smile when I'm down, it's the only movie I permanently have on my ipod...for emergencies :)