Fresh Guacamole

Fresh Guacamole

As I watched this year’s nominees for Best Animated Short Film, I noticed something a bit strange. PES’s Fresh Guacamole, a 90-second stop-motion film, has no dialogue at all. Adam and Dog, set in a beautifully drawn Garden of Eden, has no dialogue either. The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare, being entirely about Maggie, of course has no speaking. Paperman is also silent, in the spirit of some more recent Disney and Pixar shorts. Head Over Heels, finally, is just as willfully mute as the rest. There is not a single audible word of dialogue in any of this year’s nominees. What’s the significance of this? The silence has no bearing on the quality of the shorts, though it works better for Paperman and Fresh Guacamole than it does for Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels. However, I do think it has some relationship with the old Oscar adage of “Most” rather than “Best.” It’s usually more apt to describe categories like Best Production Design or Best Costume Design, but I think it might be applicable here.

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2013 Oscar Animated Shorts

Short films are an easily misunderstood art form. At the Oscars, celebrity introductions of the short film nominees and winners often justify the importance of the category by citing shorts as a platform for future feature-length filmmaking. But the elements that make up a great short are hardly the same as those that make for a great feature. Here at FSR, we’ve made something of a habit of looking at short films on their own merits, as relatively brief works of storytelling with their own unique possibilities. The short film category at the Oscars is typically a rushed-through affair so that the broadcast can proceed to more ratings-friendly moments. But the Academy Award-nominated short films make for some of the strongest categories of the event; all the nominees are, most often, very good. It’s also a level playing field. In the shorts categories, studio properties can compete with self-funded passion projects and film school theses. Since they’re out in a handful of theaters today, here’s my take on the Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short Film.

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Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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