First impressions, Oscar nominated animated short films


Four students of the Art Institute of California-Los Angeles wrote their first impressions about four of the short animated films, nominated for an Oscar. 

Adam and Dog
Adam and Dog was definitely a soothing animation experience. With a simple story, beautiful, colorful, and rich backgrounds, almost flawless classic character animation, and a soundtrack that will keep you hooked in. The story is quite a creative one, showing how the bond between the first man and dog was created. The loyalty of the dog was displayed with a wide range of character emotions backed up by beautiful scenery. Even when Adam was distracted, man’s best friend can’t help but be loyal to his master. A true natural bond founded by care and affection.

I must emphasize on the gorgeous background designs, one of the most eye capturing features in this Oscar nominated short. The display of nature was incredibly stunning, triggering many moods through color, and design. What let me down in this short, was the very slow and prolonged story. The idea that the director Minkyu Lee was trying to present was quite understood from the title, the story he had was quite simple yet to display all the beautiful scenery he had, prolonging the animation was necessary. The presence of an interesting plot was not there, therefore boring the audience.

In conclusion, with astonishing shots, simple story, and a wide display of colors to stir emotions, Adam and Dog was a pleasure for the eye, true classic animation at it’s best. The story was a bit prolonged and slow with no real breathtaking plot, yet probably intended for a phenomenal scenery experience. Mahmoud Zaini

Fresh Guacamole
Ingredients for the best guacamole: one grenade, one softball, one needle cushion, one green golf ball, and one small green light bulb. Does that not sound right? Well, then you’ve never cooked with PES. PES is a stop motion animator who transforms everyday objects into works of art. In his Oscar Nominated short “Fresh Guacamole” PES takes these items and beautifully transforms them into guacamole. Someone could argue that a short of someone making guacamole doesn’t have much of a story. It is just a guy making guacamole. But, with an animated short like this, the story isn’t a guy making guacamole. The story is how the imagination of an artist can make guacamole. Imagination is the only force on earth that can turn a grenade, a device used for war, into something edible. The execution of this short is brilliant. As PES cuts up his ingredients they become other items. As PES peels his soft ball it becomes a baseball. As he chops up the baseball it becomes dice. That’s awesome! Someone else would have just shot the ball being cut into pieces. But not PES! He took it into the direction of what could be convincing as bits of onion? Dice! He also uses dice to illustrate his needle cushion tomato into pieces of tomatoes. After he pours the tomato dice into the bowl it cuts to a golf ball. What is the golf ball going to be? What also makes PES’s shorts awesome is the fun of wondering what is going to happen next? How is a golf ball going to be used to make guacamole? The golf ball gets cut in half and it’s a lemon! How funny and awesome! The sound on in the short is also super well done. As all the ingredients are chopped and then mixed together every sound is spot on. All around I give this short a five out of five stars. I loved it. Rachel Henry

Head Over Heels
Head over Heels is a beautifully done piece that seems to bring back the old fashion, stop-motion charm from the days of Wallace and Gromit. Although the style of claymation could be compared, the content is much different. Most animated films love to idealize marriage and relationships to give us a happy, innocent feeling about love and romance. However, unlike most animated films, this story brings up an unsettling, yet accurate depiction of most long-time marriages in society. An old couple – a man and a woman – live together in a house where we see all sorts of belongings that indicated that they were once happy together. Yet, they walk around the house as if they were strangers, occasionally grunting, or throwing forks at each other to hint at the fact that they acknowledge each other’s existence. Their marriage has been turned up-side-down – literally! The man and woman live parallel, yet different lives from each other as the husband lives on the floor, while the wife walks around the ceiling, vacuuming loudly in order to piss off her husband who’s trying to watch TV. However, in an attempt to turn the marriage back to what it once was, the husband finds an old, battered pair of ballet shoes that once belonged to his wife. As a peace offering, he decides to fix them up and give them to her as a gift. However, his attempt fails as the two get into another fight, and their strange, gravity-impaired house is thrown off balance and comes falling from the sky, signifying that their marriage has come crashing to their lowest point. It is up to them to fix what had been broken and to make amends to their relationship.
This was made and directed by students at the National Film and Television School. The animation itself is A level work. The characters are charming, the setting and ambience matches the mood of the story, yet that is not what stands out the most in this short film. The viewers, whether they have been married or not, can get a sense of what it’s like to live in such a dysfunctional marriage where things just don’t seem to be the same anymore. For a student film, it’s a very mature piece, recognizing a common social issue, making this more than worth of an Oscar nomination. Elizabeth Mackenzie

Who can resist a short and simple tale of two people coming together, especially when there’s a hint of Disney magic added to it. So is the case when watching Paperman. A younger generation might be off put at first due to the fact that it’s entirely in black and white, but with this simple thought out detail and close eye to depth and style, we are instantly transported back to 1940s Manhattan.
A young man and woman, both professionals, wait patiently for the train to commute into the city holding stacks of what seem to be work paper. In a typical situation these two might never have become aware of each other. Until a gust of wind blows through, grabbing hold of a piece of paper from the young man’s stack flying it into the young female’s face.
Retrieving it, they lock eyes noticing the sheet of paper has some remnants of the female’s lipstick, breaking the ice. “Sealed with a kiss” if you will. They catch their respective trains most likely never to see each other again. Then, as if by fate, the young man sees her through his work window in the building across the street. He starts creating paper airplanes from his pile of work paper, launching them in her direction in many attempts to grab her attention, failing at every try.
Just when he’s completely given up, that’s when the magic and excitement start to happen through the joys of animation. The rest of the story is placed into the hands of destiny.
While it is a CG created piece there’s a core essence of traditional elements added to it, giving it a sense of character and life that seems to have been lost over the past several years. We may be witnessing a new era of animation. Although somewhat of a simple story, stylistically it is both captivating and mesmerizing. Overall Paperman delivers.Abel Lima


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Cinema Without Borders' reporters from around the globe search and find international cinema content for our audience. when an outside source is used, we provide you with a link to the original source at the end of the article

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