Film Review: 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animated) **** Highly Recommended

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto from Feb 12th until Oscar Presentation Day – on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories – animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that most of the animated shorts will leave one teary-eyes.  And for a variety of reasons – joy, sadness, loss and pure beauty.  These are animation for adults that kids can also enjoy.  Total length of program around 70 minutes.

ANIMATED SHORTS:

Capsule Reviews:

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR (Canada) ****

Directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine

Five different animals meet with a canine therapist to discuss their inner angst and how to overcome it.  Among them is a praying mantis (who eats her partner after mating), an angry ape, a worm and a cat and a pig.  This animated shot moves fast and furious and is undoubtedly the craziest and most hilarious of all the shorts.  A bit of all over the place piece but one can forgive this fact if one laughs hard enough.

BOA (USA) ****

Directed by Domee Shi

This American production is from Disney/Pixar and will most likely be then that will win the coveted Oscar.  Set in Toronto, the animation is immediately recognizable from the subway train interior to the neighbourhood chinatown.  The story follows an aging Chinese mother suffering from empty nest syndrome.  One of her dumplings becomes her new son till it grows big and leaves hime.  BOA is a feel-good tearjerker that will definitely leave one in tears – but in a  good way.

LATE AFTERNOON (Ireland) ****
Directed by Louise Bagnall

An elderly woman Emily switches from the past and present memories in what could be Alzheimer’s.  A perfect excuse for the animator to have colours and images flow comfortably into each other resulting in a  very beautiful piece of animation.  Emily tries to piece together her life while trying too to remember what is going on at present.  Very sad and remarkably moving, LATE AFTERNOON is my favourite of all the animated shorts.

ONE SMALL STEP (USA/China) ***

Directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas

This is a beautifully told animated tale of dreams coming true.  The protagonist is a little girl who lives with her shoemaker father.  She dreams of becoming an astronaut.  No wonder her name is Luna Chu.  The story unfolds from the point of view of the shoes that grow from kid’s spaceman boots to adult footwear.  Luna has problems in school, in sports but presses on till she eventually succeeds.  Teams can come true when one does not give up on them,

WEEKENDS (USA 2018) ***
Directed by Trevor Jimenez

Another animated short from the U.S. (besides BAO) in this program that is set in Toronto.  The CN Tower can be seen in the background.  On WEEKENDS, a young boy leaves his mother’s house to stay with his Japanese samurai loving father who then has custody,  The living conditions are very different.  The boy appears to enjoy both worlds.  The boy drifts into fantasy and dreams and ponders over his stay at both places together with their new partners his mother and father are dating.  Beautifully drawn and touching, WEEKENDS is a pleasure to watch.

Other shorts films shortlisted that will be screened:  

Wishing Box, dirs. Wenli Zhang and Nan Li, USA, 6 minutes, English  Tweet Tweet, dir. Zhanna Bekmambetova, Russia, 11 minutes, Language TK