We watched the Oscar nominated shorts prior to awards night, but were unable to get our reviews properly finished and posted before the big show. This year’s entries were okay for the most part, though perhaps a bit underwhelming compared to past years. Don’t just take our word for it though. All of the shorts, except La Luna (Disney is apparently planning to show this one in theaters this summer in front of the new full length Pixar feature Brave), are available for download in one convenient package from iTunes for the low price of $6.99.
Note: We saw the shorts via the iTunes package mentioned above and as such we still haven’t seen La Luna. Therefore a review of that particular short is absent from this posting.
Canada / 10 Minutes
An interesting yet flawed short with some decent animation and sound, this one tells the tale of a young boy who is forced to attend church services on a lazy Sunday morning and then from there is shuffled to a family gathering. There’s a fair bit of animal cruelty present, which is weird, but otherwise it’s an interesting story involving giant trains, a coin, and an unlucky bear. The whole tale is told through the eyes of a child, therefore some of it is wondrously magical while other pieces feel hopelessly depressing. There’s a lot of emotion packed into this short’s ten minute run time, but we’re not quite sure it would stand up so well upon repeated viewings.
A Morning Stroll
UK / 7 Minutes
This one probably gets our vote for possessing the worst animation of the bunch, but it’s also the one our kids enjoyed the most because it’s got a zombie in it. The basic premise involves a chicken who goes for a stroll around a busy city block every morning. Our first introduction to him is in the glorious black and white of 1959. Then his story is shown again, updated in color for 2009. Finally, his tale is thrust into the future setting of 2059 where the world is in ruins and the chicken comes face to face with the aforementioned zombie. Honestly, we probably would have written this one off if not for the foul flesh eating undead beast that’s hell bent on devouring poultry. A slow setup, but the ending makes this one worth watching.
Canada / 13 Minutes
Wild Life was easily our least favorite of the four. This one is a bit of historical fiction about a British man who moves to Calgary in 1909 in search of a better life as a cowboy. We get to watch as he writes false letters home to his family about how great he’s doing while the reality of the situation is that he’s actually in pretty dire straits. After bearing twelve minutes of his tedious tale we finally get to watch him freeze to death. Uplifting? Not really. Depressing? Heck yes. We’re not sure who the target audience is supposed to be for this one, but it certainly wasn’t us.
The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore
USA / 15 Minutes
Without getting to see La Luna it was difficult for us to predict a winner, but out of the four we did get to see this one was clearly the best, though we’re obviously a bit biased since this one is all about the love of books. With stunning visuals and a wonderful story this short really does a wonderful job at driving home the affect that stories have on us all and the incredible power they possess to lift us to new heights of imagination.
After a hurricane a man’s home is destroyed (think Wizard of Oz), but in the middle of the devastation all around him he stumbles upon a sanctuary in the form of a massive library full of living, flying books which heal his broken spirit and he in turn decides to live amongst them, caring for them as needed. It’s tough to say anything more without getting into spoiler territory, so we won’t, except that if you’re going to see only of this year’s offerings make it this one.
Looking for more Oscars coverage? Click here for a complete one-page guide to all of this year’s nominated titles along with links to each of our reviews.