The 2020 Oscar Nominated Animation Shorts

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  The 2020 Oscar Nominated Animation Shorts
 

Robin:
“Dcera”

This 15-minute, deftly done stop-motion animation, by Daria Kashcheeva, is about a daughter and the love and loss of her beloved father. But, it is far more complex than that as hurts go unspoken and the rift it causes are there for life. I give it a B.

“Hair Love”

Did you ever wonder what it is like to be a young dad facing, for the first time, the daunting task of braiding his daughter’s unruly mop top? “Hair Love” answers that question. I give it a B-

“Kitbull”

“Kitbull”, to me, is a modern, new millennium retelling of the old Looney Toons cartoons about the big, tough dog, Spike, and the little kitten that wins his heart. This time, though, there is the overtone of animal abuse and, finally, freedom, safety and a happily ever after ending. Director-writer Rosana Sullivan wins me over with her sweet story of love and caring. I give it a B+

“Memorable”

Dementia and aging are the theme for this thoughtful story about a wife coping with losing her once-brilliant artist husband to his mental incapacity and the difficulty of the life-altering task. Director-writer Bruno Collet deftly depicts the impact of dementia on the victim and, more importantly, those left to care for them and watch, helpless, the deterioration of a once formidable person. I give it a B.

“Sister”

This is a warm and touching story, with stop motion figures made of felt fabric, about a boy and his little sister that has meaning for any guy who has had a little sister. The story, though, takes a very different path than expected and, in the end, is an indictment of China’s former one-child policy and what it did to the traditional fabric of family. I give it a B.

Laura:
“Daughter”

The Czech Republic’s Daria Kashcheeva’s stop motion puppet animation is the first of three stop motion animations to be nominated, each using a different medium.  This positively stunning piece of work features papier-mâché figures with animated eyes, a father preparing dinner (and dealing with convincing boiling over pots) fails to react to his young daughter’s distress over a dead bird.  Years later, the incident comes full circle when a bird crashes through the window of his hospital room.  This moving animation uses surreal bird imagery throughout, its dark visuals a testament to the legacy of the great Czech stop motion animator Jan Švankmajer.  This is my pick for the Oscar.  A

“Hair Love”

Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and Bruce W. Smith’s delightful animation uses a hand drawn look to showcase the struggles of an African American father trying to accomplish his daughter Zuri’s chosen hairstyle.  Both amusing and of the moment, “Hair Love” achieves deeper emotion when we realize just who Zuri is getting dolled up for.  B+

“Kitbull”

Rosana Sullivan’s Pixar short will tug at the heartstrings of all animal lovers.  A stray kitten surviving on the streets comes into contact with an abused pit bull looking for affection.  Initially terrified by the scarred bait dog, the little kitten not only cozies up to him, but finds a means to escape to a new life.  Pixar’s first hand drawn animation features simple backgrounds to foreground its expressive characters and is a real charmer.  B+

“Memorable”

France’s Bruno Collet uses clay in this stop motion piece about an artists world becoming more and more surreal as he is overtaken by Alzheimer’s, a subject featured in this category last year with “Late Afternoon.”  This incredibly expressive piece is a real work of art, Louis world morphing into imagery reminiscent of the famous artists who have influenced him as his own appearance becomes represented by impressionistic brushstrokes.  When he no longer recognizes his wife, she becomes his model, then dance partner, before flying upwards as disassembled blobs of paint.  A

Siqi Song’s “Sister” uses felt-like dolls for a man’s recollection of his ‘annoying’ little sister.  The film steps through a series of sibling battles (fighting over the TV, etc.) before its last minute twist, one which comments upon China’s One Child policy.  This one excels more with technique than narrative.  B-

Grade:  B+
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