“Get A Horse!” – Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
Disney usually takes home the Best Animated Short award, and with “Get A Horse!” an animated short that not only brings back the beloved Mickey Mouse with all classic voice work used from previous recordings, chances are it will be taking home yet another Oscar. Seeing Mickey battle longtime rival Peg-Leg Pete over Minnie, what starts off as a normal black-and-white cartoon slowly utilizes three dimensions in bringing the characters out of the screen and into color. Having had the pleasure of seeing this short both in 2D and 3D, there is definitely something special about these characters being brought to the new generations and with a play on coming directly out of the movie screen, we’re given the meaning of 3D and where it should remain, all while making a comment on the future of technology and how far we’ve come. A capstone to animation, this one will be tough to beat. “Get A Horse!” can be seen playing before the feature “Frozen”, in theaters now. This is a first nomination for director and producer.
“Mr. Hublot” – Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Coming from France, “Mr. Hublot” is a steam-punk stop-motion animated short that will have you in awe over the quality of the images, not to mention the depth of the story in such a short period of time. Following the main character, Mr. Hublot, an O.C.D. homebody that spends his days flicking light switches and punching numbers. But when his heart goes out to a stray dog outside, you see the emotion come across this inanimate object and are instantly drawn to it. It amazes me, the stories that can be told in such a short period of time and most conventions are thrown out the door for a simple three act structure (beginning, middle, and end), but even “Mr. Hublot” allows for a few surprises, especially in the conclusion, where the audience assumes one thing but the big reveal at the end of the film gives everything in the short a meaning. For a short with no dialogue, the creators definitely deliver a satisfying story, along with some of the most sharp and impressive stop-motion I’ve ever seen, to the point where you’re completely unsure whether this is entirely computer generated or not. If “Get A Horse!” didn’t come from Disney, I would vote strongly for “Mr. Hublot” and it remain a very strong second choice and who knows, it might even take the prize. This is the first nomination for Witz and Espigares.
“Feral” – Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
Not to completely take away from the short and its success of landing an Oscar nomination, but “Feral” was my least favorite of the bunch. Telling the story of a wild young boy that is taken home by a man riding a horse, the short is made of almost sketches rather than anything fleshed out. The story feels unoriginal and eventually just literally floats into the abyss. With other shorts originally up for consideration, including the George Takei narrated “The Missing Scarf”, they would have fit in much better than “Feral” does. The chances of “Feral” winning are very dismal, with “Get A Horse!” and “Mr. Hublot” remaining much better films with much better animation than this. This is Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden’s first Oscar nomination.
“Possessions” – Shuhei Morita
Unmistakably Japan’s entry into the Oscar shorts race, “Possessions” sheds light on the legend that after a certain amount of time passes, household objects take on a soul and a life of their own. A Japanese man who wanders into an abandoned hut is tested by discarded objects as he repairs them and attempts to survive the night. “Possessions” falls to my second-to-least favorite, but not for a lack of animation or story, but just for not being my cup of tea. In fact, the animation styling are of the short is extremely textured and reminiscent of video game animations, especially the series “Borderlands” which almost takes on characteristics of a comic book panel. With sharp lines and textured graphics, “Possessions” is definitely not a weak film, but does not quite live up to “Get A Horse!” or “Mr. Hublot”, which are much more digestible. This is also Morita’s first Oscar nomination.
“Room On The Broom” – Max Lang and Jan Lachauer
Narrated by Simon Pegg, “Room On The Broom” was definitely the funniest of the five shorts, but still does not have the depth that either “Get A Horse!” or “Mr. Hublot” have. Regardless of that, the stop-motion animation is rich in color and seamless in movement and with a voice-cast led by Gillian Anderson, it’s hard to tell what star power can do for a film. Rhyming a nice little fairy tale, this short definitely hits at a younger audience, telling the repetitive story of a nice witch that finds room on her broom for the animal outcasts she meets along her journey including a cat, a dog, a bird, and a frog, as a dragon approaches to end the fun. Reaching a young audience could easily work in this film’s favor, but “Mr. Hublot” also reaches a younger audience and has a much more emotional level to it, on top of comedy. This is Lachauer’s first nomination and Max Lang snags the only second nomination in the entire bunch, with a previous nomination for “The Gruffalo” (2010).