I didn’t think I’d have much to say about the Oscars this year, but since I saw the nominated shorts at the Detroit Film Theatre last weekend, and my choice for live-action short is of a geeky bent, I figured I’d pontificate here.
If you didn’t make it to the DFT, I’d recommend hitting Youtube and finding as many as you can. It was a decent bunch. I think last year’s crop was stronger overall (the first year I went to the DFT showing), but I found something to like this year, too.
My pick for live-action short is a tie. “Death of a Shadow” is a Dutch film about a World War I soldier trapped in a sort of purgatory where he’s forced to take shadow photographs of people as they die. If he hits 10,000, he can return to life and the woman he fell in love with just before he died. It’s beautifully shot and full of emotion. I’d love to see it expanded into a full-length movie, as long as it’s not turned into some generic actioner. So that’s the geeky one that hit home.
But I really enjoyed “Curfew,” too, a very dark comedy about a suicidal man who winds up babysitting for his niece, seeing her for the first time since she was a baby
All that said, I think “Asad,” the story of a Somali boy in a fishing village, will win, though. It had a lot of heart and has a production background that will probably sway voters (all the actors are Somali refugees). It was probably my second favorite of a bunch of depressing films.
Disney’s “Paperman” was my favorite of the animated shorts and was also the strongest. “Adam and Dog,” about how man and dog first become a classic pair, was a close second. Paperman is the fun story of a man and woman drawn together through a bit of magical whimsy (and a bunch of paper airplanes). It was nice and sweet with a little bit of heft.
“Head Over Heels” reminded my group of “Up” a bit, but not in the best way. It was nice but a little too off-kilter. “The Longest Daycare” is a “Simpsons” short starring Maggie. It was funny, but it was weird seeing a TV show as part of the Oscar race. And while visually clever, I don’t understand why the two-minute “Fresh Guacamole” is in the race at all. It must have been slim pickin’s this year.
And that leads me to the animated feature category. First of all, it’s a pity that “Rise of the Guardians” wasn’t nominated. I think it deserves the spot taken by “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” Maybe the committee thought it would get in trouble with an all-U.S. slate. “Pirates” was fun, but it was no “Wallace and Gromit,” Aardman’s most famous output.
I wouldn’t pick “Guardians” to win, but it should have been an option. So of the other four nominees, “ParaNorman” gets my vote. Maybe it’s my “Ghost Hunters” addiction, but I really got into this story of a kid who could speak to ghosts. And it had a good anti-bullying message. I immensely enjoyed “Brave” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” but “ParaNorman” just spoke to me. “Frankenweenie” was fun, too, but it left me a bit cold.
The Oscars are Sunday night on ABC. Check to see if I was right!