Paperman

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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Paperman

Why Watch? Ah, sweet perfection. Not only is this short from Disney a gorgeous blend of two kinds of animation styles, it’s a perfect wedding of humor, romance and paper airplane folding. In it, a young man and woman meet at a train station, and after she rides out of his life, she re-emerges in a highrise window across the large city street from where he works. Armed with boring forms and goaded by a lipstick kiss, he risks his job (and a major fine for littering) trying to catch her eye. This is classic Disney magic at its peak. Soaringly well-crafted, it’s magical realism in service of sweetness that should cause a few hearts to swell. With Paperman, director John Kahrs and his team created an endearing throwback to the silent era and used some simple Vaudevillian storytelling to wordlessly reward a man in love for his persistence and a woman in love for her charming curiosity. What will it cost? Only 6 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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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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