Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the titles of 10 animated short films that will advance in the voting process for the 88th Academy Awards. A total of 60 animated shorts representing all shades of the colorful animation spectum were officially submitted, displaying traditional hand-drawn and stop-motion, experimental rotoscoping, cutting-edge CGI and playful claymation.
Members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch viewed all eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting and will now select five final nominees from among the titles on this semi-final shortlist. The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Jan. 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The Oscar ceremony airs on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 28.
Best Animated Short Film reigns as one of the purest creative categories in the often-muddled Oscar process, with a broad variety of amazing projects flocking to the competition from all over the world. Crafted by a talented range of first-time filmmakers and storied veterans, witness this whirlwind of imaginative shorts featuring artful executions of ideas both sublimely simple and profoundly complex.
Have a look at these 10 toon teasers and tell us which contestants you believe should make the final cut.
BEAR STORY (DIRECTED BY GABRIEL OSORIO)
A sensation at many film and animation festivals, this sad CGI short tells the tale of an old, lonesome bear who relates the story of his life through a mechanical tin diorama. A personal allegory for the violent period of Chile's Pinochet regime in the 1970s.
CARFACE (DIRECTED BY CLAUDE CLOUTIER)
In this whirling, twirling automotive waltz, carefree cars cavort in all directions to the tune of “Que Sera, Sera,” while the black ooze that fuels them is unremittingly pumped from Mother Earth. If Busby Berkeley and Mel Brooks were asked to co-direct the apocalypse, it might look like this uproarious festival of destruction—the ultimate spectacle for our Big Oil-based civilization. Produced by Canada's National Film Board.
IF I WAS GOD (DIRECTED BY CORDELL BARKER)
Another excellent entry from Canada by the two-time Oscar nominated animator. What would you do if you were 12 and suddenly found yourself charged with God-like powers? Would you use them for good? For bad? Perhaps a little of both? For one seventh-grader whose mind wanders while dissecting a frog in Biology class, the possibilities seem endless: having the power to toy with life and death, to create monsters who can punish those who torment him daily and to create that one perfect day with Lily, the love of his 12-year-old life.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF MARCH MADNESS (DIRECTED MELISSA JOHNSON AND ROBERTINO ZAMBRANO)
Co-director Melissa Johnson hit 6’4’’ tall in 8th grade, and although this made her an instant basketball star, it also became the source of hilarious anecdotes. This true-life story follows her awkward misadventures in romance as she dates shorter men and gets cheered or jeered wherever she goes. Blazing with dark humor, this animated “tall short” is about embracing difference that is certain to disarm and delight.
MY HOME (DIRECTED BY PHUONG MAI NGUYEN)
The cinematic debut of the Vietnamese filmmaker who now calls France her home. A whimsical fable about a young boy named Hugo who wakes one morning to find a trail of black feathers scattered all over his home and his attempts to discovery the mystery behind them.
AN OBJECT AT REST (DIRECTED BY SETH BOYDEN)
A seemingly simplistic subject becomes a fascination less of progree and history, an Object at Rest follows the life of a stoic stone as it travels over the course of millennia, facing nature's greatest obstacle: human civilization. This low-key entry could be a sleeper in this year's competition.
PROLOGUE (DIRECTED BY RICHARD WILLIAMS)
Animation legend Richard Williams' (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Thief and the Cobbler) long-awaited six-minute short, directed by Williams and produced by his longtime collaborator (and spouse) Imogen Sutton. Beautifully hand-drawn and dialog-free, Prologue had its U.S. premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, telling the captivating tale of two Spartans and two Athenians fight to the death while observed by a little girl.
SANJAY"S SUPER TEAM (DIRECTED BY SANJAY PATEL)
Pixar's entry into this season's Oscar race, this eye-popping CGI short chronicles the fanciful daydreams of a young Indian boy who conjures up Hindu superhero gods from his active imagination after growing bored with his father's religious meditations. Patel's sentimental animated short will premiere in front of Disney's The Good Dinosaur when it is released later this week.
LIFE WITHOUT COSMOS (DIRECTED BY KONSTANTIN BRONZIT)
An award-winning entry from the Russian Federation, this enlightened story of the space program follows two cosmonaut friends as they try to do their best in their everyday mission training to make their life's common dream a reality.
WORLD OF TOMORROW (DIRECTED BY DON HERTZFELDT)
This 17-minute existential sci-fi short from experimental animator Don Hertzfeldt was the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival and has been hailed as one of the finest short films ever, depicting a little girl name Emily and her mind-bending tour of her distant future through the cosmos. I smell Oscar!!