The Oscar races are heating up, with studios trumpeting their prestige pictures and indie darlings hoping to ride a wave of sentiment to unlikely glory. For my taste, the most hotly contested battle isn’t among the glamor categories. It isn’t a competition of magazine cover idols or household names.
The most captivating race is for the Best Animated Short Film statuette.
Last month, the Academy Awards trimmed the list of animated shorts under consideration from 56 to just 10. In January, the list will cut be down to the final 3-5 films in competition. But for the time being, we have ten pretty amazing films that span the spectrum of styles from cell to stop-motion to experimental 2D-3D, each worthy of honor.
The race is on
While the race lacks the mega-star power of a Brad Pitt, or the iconic allure of a Quentin Tarantino, the Animated Short Film category is nonetheless dominated by heavyweights in their own right. Paperman, a short we covered recently, is a Disney creation. The Longest Daycare continues The Simpsons’ legacy, as we follow the exploits of Maggie Simpson on that fateful day(care). And Combustible was made by Katsuhiro Otomo, best known for the seminal Anime classic Akira. Past nominees, veteran animators, and rising stars round out the list.
Eagleman Stag: a thesis project
Media chatter has Paperman as the frontrunner, with The Longest Daycare winning the nostalgia vote. I contend there’s another short with the buzz to get to the podium. The Eagleman Stag, a thesis project at London’s Royal Academy of Art, has earned director Mikey Please a raft of awards around the world, from LA to Sundance, even picking up a BAFTA along the way. The stop motion short, which is like Malick’s Tree of Life by way of Aronofsky’s Pi, feels immediately familiar from the outset, almost predictably so, then snares the viewer in a deepening emotional story, providing an anchor to ground the film’s airy ideas. The result may be the best film of the year, in any category.
Unfortunately, neither Paperman and The Longest Daycare have been released online, as they are in theaters as the opening shorts for Wreck-N-Ralph and Ice Age 4, respectively. However, check out The Eagleman Stag, if you haven’t already seen it, or even if you have, because it’s definitely warrants repeated viewing. We’ve also included Please’s Making The Eagleman Stag, one of the most compelling behind the scenes videos ever made.