Oscars 2018: Best Animated Short Film nominees tell stories in mere minutes

Three of the most difficult categories to call every year at the Oscars are those of the short films. They lack precursor prizes and, in many cases, visibility. If you are not able to see these films before the Academy Awards on March 4, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Below is our take on the five nominees for Best Animated Short.

A screening committee drawn from the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members winnowed a field of 63 entries for Best Animated Short down to 10 semi-finalists using an averaged scoring system.. All members of the branch could cast preferential ballots for the five nominees and the entire academy can vote on the winner.

SEE 2018 Oscars: Best Live Action Short Film nominees by rising stars of world cinema

“Dear Basketball” (USA)
Director: Glen Keane; Writer: Kobe Bryant
Running Time: 6 minutes

In this heartfelt ode to basketball, Bryant narrates his lifelong love affair with the sport that made him a legend. The five-time NBA champion poetically describes what basketball means to him and why he now must say goodbye. Enhancing the story is an original score that modulates to an emotional climax so moving that even the star’s harshest detractors are bound to feel something. While this film successfully tugs at the heartstrings, the sketch animation may not be sophisticated enough for academy voters. This film is a contender, but it won’t be a slam dunk.

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“Garden Party” (France)
Directors/Writers: Gabriel Grapperon and Victor Caire
Running Time: 7 minutes

This fantastically beautiful CG animated short is so realistic I almost felt like I was watching a documentary. The viewer follows a cluster of rambunctious amphibians as they wreak havoc within a deserted mansion. Not only is this a visual spectacle, but it’s impossible not to be smitten by these adorable, at times hilarious creatures. In between breaking dishes and chasing insects, we soon learn the reason these toads have this big house and majestic swimming pool all to themselves. It concludes with such a dark, disturbing twist that some academy voters may be too alarmed to recognize the brilliance of this film.

SEE 2018 Oscar nominations: Full list of Academy Awards nominees in all 24 categories

“Lou” (USA)
Director/Writer: Dave Mullins
Running Time: 7 minutes

In this submission from Pixar Studios, a thieving playground bully learns his lesson from the mysterious creature living inside the lost and found box at school. Pixar has a longstanding history with the Oscars. This is the studio’s 14th animated short film to receive a nomination and they have come out victorious four times, including last year with  “Piper.” This film is meticulously executed from an animation standpoint.

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“Negative Space” (France)
Directors/Writers: Ru Kuwahata, Max Porter
Running Time: 5 minutes

Based on a poem by Ron Koertge, “Negative Space” depicts how a father and son bond over the art of packing a suitcase. The animation may not be of the contemporary design typical of recent Oscar champs, but it packs a heartfelt punch. The hero of the film is Sam, a young boy whose father frequently travels for work. To appease him, Sam meticulously packs his father’s luggage before each trip. When Sam’s father acknowledges a job well done, it becomes his greatest source of pride. Academy voters will likely smile when they watch this film.

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“Revolting Rhymes” (UK)
Directors/Writers: Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer
Running Time: 29 minutes

A young Snow White and Red Riding Hood develop a lifelong friendship in this twisted re-telling of our most beloved nursery rhymes. The duo must contend with a conniving Big Bad Wolf and an obnoxious trio of little pigs. The film is undoubtedly charming and offers a multitude of laughs from crass, unexpected jokes. But at nearly 30 minutes long, its running time eclipses that of the other four nominees combined.

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