ShortsHD is bringing the Oscar shorts to theaters in the US, Canada, and Europe beginning February 1st. Along with the live action and documentary short films, ShortsHD will be presenting the much beloved animations, including the five nominees and three highly commended works: Dripped, Abiogenesis, and The Gruffalo’s Child. This year’s finalists—The Longest Daycare, Adam and Dog, Paperman, Fresh Guacamole, and Head Over Heels—showcase a diverse array of techniques and concepts. But they do all have one thing in common—no dialogue. Instead, these animators do what animators do best—visual storytelling.
The Longest Daycare, directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), features the youngest and least conspicuous member of The Simpsons family, Maggie Simpson. Marge drops Maggie off at the Ayn Rand School for Tots. At the security gate, she is systematically determined to be of “average intelligence.” She is promptly whisked down the hall past the “gifted” room to be placed in the “nothing special” room, where she is confronted by Baby Gerald—butterfly killer and future socio-path. When Maggie discovers a caterpillar in the room, she takes it into her care, knowing she must defend the soon-to-be butterfly from her newfound nemesis. “The Longest Daycare” is the kind of tightly composed biting satire we hope for, but don’t always get from The Simpsons.
Adam and Dog, directed by Minkyu Lee, is a Garden of Eden story. It is a genesis not only of mankind, but of man’s best friend. The story is told from the perspective of a dog, whose formative bond with man soon becomes an enduring alliance. Beautifully crafted, “Adam and Dog” is hand-drawn and digitally colored. All of the elements—the classic, even nostalgic imagery, the sound design by John Maximillian Repka, and a score by Joey Newman—come together to create an experience that is warm and impressionistic.
Disney’s Paperman, directed by John Kahrs (Toy Story 2, Ratatouille), is a black and white animation set in mid-century New York City. A lonely office worker bumps into the woman of his dreams while waiting for a commuter train. In a moment of distraction, he loses her as she boards a train. Later at work, he is surprised to see her in the building across from his. He desperately tries to get her attention, with only stacks of paperwork at his disposal. Paperman has all the hallmarks of Disney—the characters with the big Bambi eyes, the cuteness, the magic. What makes Paperman unique is its innovative blending of hand-drawn animation with CG technology—a sign of things to come.
Fresh Guacamole is a surreal concoction by stop-motion animator Pes. With its vivid colors, excellent sound design, and strangely lifelike imagery, Fresh Guacamole is as much a textural experience as it is a revisionary look at everyday objects.
This year’s only non-American nominee is the stop-motion animation Head Over Heels by English writer/director Timothy Reckart. Head Over Heels is a highly original story about Walter and Madge, an aging married couple whose relationship has soured over the years. Walter tries to revitalize the relationship, but to no avail, and soon things come crashing down. Head Over Heels examines the ups and downs of marriage quite literally, making the best of the animation format with what might be called “cartoon physics.” Like Chuck Jones’s Roadrunner episodes, the world of Head Over Heels operates according its own physical laws—laws that, for this couple, may well be linked to the heart.
The Oscar Nominated Short Film releases will open in over 200 theaters throughout the US, Canada and Europe starting February 1st, and will continue to expand in the following weeks. www.theoscarshorts.com/