2018 Oscars Best Animated Short nominee: ‘Negative Space’ explores a complicated father-son relationship

Even parents that have complicated relationships with their children can still find ways of bonding. The short film, “Negative Space,” explores this with the activity of packing a suitcase. It may seem like a simple concept, but the stop-motion short film is now one of the five nominees for Best Animated Short Film at this year’s Oscars. Filmmakers, Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, both scored their first career nominations.

A man is seen finishing packing a suitcase. The man then describes how his dad taught him how to pack a suitcase properly. As he sets off on his trip, we see how these interactions with his dad came about during his life. We first see him as a very young child who would help his father roll up socks to put in the suitcase and then his father would put him in it as well. Being in there, surrounded by all the articles of clothing, would be like going on an underwater expedition, but he would come crashing back to reality when his father leaves for his business trips.

As a 12-year-old, the narrator would pack his father’s luggage for him if he was too busy to pack himself. While his dad is emotionally distant, when he sees the way his son packed his suitcase, he would text him one simple message: “Perfect.” The narrator arrives at his destination which turns out to be his father’s funeral. As the narrator looks at his father laying in his casket, all he can think is, “Look at all that wasted space.”

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Does this father-son tale have what it takes to take home Oscar gold? Let’s examine the pros and cons of what this film has to offer.

PROS

The film is short, sweet and to the point. Much like his the narrator’s packing jobs, there’s not a wasted moment here.

The stop-motion animation style is very distinct and stands miles apart from the three computer animated shorts as well as the hand-drawn entry.

The depiction of this weird father-son dynamic is actually very sweet.

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CONS

The subject matter might seem trivial to some voters and that might prevent them from being able to appreciate it.

Because it is about experiences packing luggage, it may not even hold the attention of some Academy members.

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