2011 Oscar Live Action and Animated Shorts

Charlie and I got to see all of the Live Action and Animated Shorts over the weekend (we just couldn’t squeeze in a showing of the documentary short subjects too, alas) thanks to Landmark’s E Street Theatre in DC. Have to say, there are no duds in either category, just ones not up to the strength of its fellows. So good pickings overall. I definitely want to make seeing all of the nominees a tradition.

ANIMATED SHORT:

Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage — The one that, were I a voter, I’d cast my ballot for. Someone’s sketch-journal coming to life and illustrating a trip to Madagascar, which switches styles effortlessly and looks amazing. I was almost disappointed they showed this one first because nothing else could live up to it. (It also helps that I am a big fan of travel writing.)

The Lost Thing — Based on Shaun Tan’s children’s book of the same name, it’s got the strongest “message” and the inventiveness of Tan’s illustrations is just amazing. Beautiful, beautiful work.

Day & Night — The one everyone’s seen thanks to it being at the front of Toy Story 3. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good, one of Pixar’s best short animated features to date. The only reason why it’s not at the top has to do with the strength of the first two (especially Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage). If Day & Night wins, it’s not for a lack of talent and skill involved. I’ll still be pleased if any of these first three win, honestly.

Let’s Pollute! — A fun parody of informational films from earlier days with a strong, in-your-face environmental message. I suspect that’s going to actively turn some people off though (there’s no subtlety at all involved).

The Gruffalo — My least favorite, it’s not bad but it’s a very literal adaptation of a children’s book, and it overstays its welcome at 29 minutes. The repetition of events and phrases that works well in reading a kid’s book gets tiring in this adaptation. It’s nicely animated and the actors they got for the voices are all strong, but toward the end I began actively wishing it was over.

LIVE-ACTION SHORT:

The Confession — Once again, the best one was the first one aired. Great child actors, emotionally brutal, and even though you see some parts totally coming a mile away it still grabs you and squeezes hard. Really happy this one was nominated.

God of Love — This one was, however, the most enjoyable one to watch. Loved the entire cast, the sensibility, the music, everything about it. It’s very light and fluffy unlike The Confession, and this is one I’d want to watch again. Just great, and I want to see more from this filmmaker.

Wish 143 — It’s good (and it’s got the best basic concept, with a teenager with cancer getting a facsimile of the Make-a-Wish foundation asking what he wants, and he says to lose his virginity), and it earned its nomination, but… this is a short film that felt like it was trying to cram an entire movie into its shorter length. Emotionally it’s all over the place. I’d actually quite like to see this one remade into a full-length film; it’s got more than enough material to do so. (Added bonus: Margaret Slitheen appearance!)

Na Wewe — Is it wrong to say that this short film needed a minute or two trimmed off of it? I can see why it got nominated, because it’s an extremely tense story set during the Hutu/Tutsi conflicts in Burundi. But the cycle goes one too many times, I think, and part of the resolution ultimately relies on an extremely lame pun. This is one that I liked less the more I thought about it, and while it still ended up in 4th place in my book, the amount in which it was in fourth place slid down a great deal.

The Crush — It’s not a bad idea, but the child actor who plays the lead is really poor. As the entire short film hangs on him (he’s in all but maybe two scenes?) he drags this one to the bottom. The other aspects (the writing, the directing) are good, and when it was all said and done I had a smile on my face, but I think this film is lucky that everything else was strong because that kid needed to be recast and badly.

How Many Chances?

There are times when I wonder if as I grow older I am giving people less chances because I am getting crochety, or if it’s simply that I am better at recognizing warning signs.

Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say I’ve known someone as a friend of a friend (whom we’ll call Raoul, because that is always my fake name for people be they male or female) for quite a few years. I run into Raoul at least once or twice a year, always been cordial. And through the world of social media, I’ve started to “know” Raoul a little better in terms of likes and dislikes, that sort of thing. I ran into Raoul this year, we chat for a while, and in the process it comes up that Raoul loves to go to museums and is simultaneously sick of friends whose sole social interaction is late-night boozing. And I said, “Hey, great, I love going to museums, next time I will let you know.”

Hmph [365portraits: 260]So, fast forward a tiny bit. Planning on going to a museum with Charlie and a couple of other friends on a Saturday. So mid-week, I drop Raoul a line saying, “Hey, we’re going to the museum on Saturday, at this time to see that exhibit. We might grab food afterward, too. If you’re interested in coming that’d be great!”

…and I get no response. Not before, not during, not afterward. It’s been long enough that there won’t be even a belated response coming. And I have to admit that I’ve written Raoul off.

Not as a person, of course. That’d be overkill. But I have no real desire to invite Raoul along to anything else. It’s not that Raoul didn’t come (we all have our own plans going on after all) but rather that I sent the e-mail specifically to Raoul (not to a large group, at which point it’s vaguely acceptable to not reply) and got no response. It’s the whole, “Why should I go out of my way to invite you to things if you aren’t going to respond?” Especially since it’s not like I have a long history with Raoul where we’ve done tons of things together. If I run into Raoul I’ll certainly be friendly. Raoul is a nice enough person, there’s no anger. But no more invitations, I think.

Maybe I’m overthinking it. And it is certainly better than other behavior that gets you written off entirely. But the way I see it, I’ve got too many friends that I barely see as it is to try and add in someone who can’t even bother to respond. Why wait around for a non-responder?

Is it just me who feels this way?

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Jose Garibaldi

Jose Garibaldi provided this awesome sketch for me; he’d just drawn Maria’s Wedding for Oni Press, which sang so very true to me when it came to families and weddings and the best of intentions and all that. Since then he’s worked on a variety of projects, but most prolifically a lot of Jingle Belle comics. (The adventures of Santa’s slightly naughty hockey-playing daughter, as written by Paul Dini; they’re rather hysterical.)

I love that this one tells a whole story, and while most were upbeat and adorable, this one shows the down side to my sketchbook’s theme. Nicely done.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Doug TenNapel

Doug TenNapel, when he drew this sketch for me, was probably still better known for his work on the computer game Earthworm Jim, but he’d just had the graphic novel Creature Tech published. Since then he’s had a lot of graphic novels published (I believe the most recent is Ghostopolis), but I have to admit that Creature Tech is almost certainly still my favorite.

Anyway, TenNapel took a distinctly different (and funny) approach to the book. Maybe he was trying to purify my book after Brian Azzarello’s sketch two pages earlier?