2013 Oscar Checklist – Animated Shorts


I’m doing my reviews of Oscar films a little differently this year. I’m just going to unload all the reviews of the films I haven’t yet. Then, when I’m done, I will have a post with links to everything. Around that time I hope to have my completed top ten and any other 2012 leftovers. Let the madness commence!

Adam and Dog

I love this movie. It’s a big giant wow. The title is a riff on Adam and Eve, but the movie is about the Garden of Eden through the eyes of a curious dog. As the story unfurls it’s not explicit about what you’re seeing. We’re just following along as this dog explores an impossibly beautiful world. It’s a patient film that pulls you along with its enchanting lyricism. Eventually the dog runs into a wandering and naked man. Soon comes Eve and I think most are familiar with where the tale winds up.


But this new version is a wonder. Using hand-drawn animation with a little digital assist, the director creates a bold vision that amazes with every frame. It’s expressive and uses every inch of the screen to create stunning compositions. Seriously, you could pause any shot and hang it on your wall. But it’s more than just pretty pictures. Along with the imagery, the precise sound design and subtle shifts in color draw out strong emotions. The film is so alive that even though it’s a sad tale it made me super happy.


Fresh Guacamole


This is a very short short. At less than 2 minutes in length, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot to say about it. It’s a stop-motion animation piece showcasing how to make guacamole. Only the playful twist is that every ingredient is made up of household items that resemble the real one. A pin cushion becomes the tomato; diced pin cushion becomes red dice and so on. It’s fun to see what object will be re-imagined next with accompanying sound effect, but that’s it. It’s fun. There’s no story and no pay off. It’s a simple, well made, short but sweet piece of cleverness.



I already wrote about Paperman when it played in front of Wreck-It Ralph. Here’s what I said then:

“Also, a wonderful short called Paperman is attached to the feature. It’s a black & white tale of romance finding its way into a colorless corporate workday. It’s sweet, witty and actually gets a lot of use out of the 3D. The animation is a 2D/CG hybrid that reminded me of The Iron Giant (always a good thing). I wasn’t a fan of the turn it takes from practical to magical, but the execution is so fantastic that I didn’t mind.”


After a re-watch, I stand by my initial thoughts. I’d just add that the score is quite excellent and really enhances the romantic swoon. It’s full of simple joys.


The Longest Daycare

Maggie is dropped off at daycare. She gets placed with the outcasts, including her nemesis, and a few hijinks ensue. But there’s not nearly enough wild or crazy. Anyone familiar with The Simpsons will recognize this short as that. There are the usual sight gags, mockery of the system, and so on.


But like the current iteration of The Simpsons, it looks and sounds like The Simpsons, only a mellower non-genius version of it. The story never reaches a second gear or even tries. Which is fine, it’s just not great. A few jokes go for some very low hanging fruit but I still had a few laughs. It’s not a bad film, but it’s definitely not the best The Simpsons has to offer.


Head Over Heels

This is one of those films with a neat idea but not much story to support it. It’s about an older couple living in a floating house only they each live upside down from one another. The house has been built to accommodate this situation and a lot of the fun of the piece is examining these clever little details. The fridge slides from floor to floor, bookshelves are reversible, and they take turns rotating their portrait on the wall.


There’s a misunderstanding, fallout, and reconciliation but the story is really about becoming distant the more familiar we are in our relationships. Not a terrible theme, and it is inventively visualized, but it meanders too much getting there. The stop-motion animation is pleasant, but the high concept could have used a lower runtime.


4 responses to “2013 Oscar Checklist – Animated Shorts

  1. Full of simple joys – I agree, Paperman did a great job, it shows so many simple little lovely things in life. Characters are cute and the whole idea of making a black and white animated movie makes it even better. All of my friends loved it.

  2. I really dig it…but I urge you to seek out Adam and Dog. It should hit iTunes later this month. I think it’s even better than Paperman.

  3. I agree about Paperman. I was loving it but the magical stuff didn’t really work for me. I thought the idea of it was to keep it simple, even down to the way it looks and the ending kind of took me out of it. Great score though.

  4. Pingback: 2013 Oscar Checklist – The Master List | Shooting the Script

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