By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
For the fourth year in a row, “Oscar Shorts! Academy Award Nominated Films” opens Friday, Feb. 11 at the Ruth Sokolof theater. They will present the films nominated for Best Animated Short and Best Live-Action short, as they have done in the past. For the first time, they will be showing this year’s nominees for Best Documentary Short. The films nominated for best animated short are:
“Day and Night” 5:55 minutes
From Pixar studios, “Day and Night” is perhaps the most happy-go-lucky film out of all the selections this year, which is, of course, the general trend of all Pixar films, short and long. The cutest aspect of the whole feature comes when Day and Night (both identical sort of blob creatures) meet for the first time. They show each other all the things that they miss when not in each other’s presence.
“The Gruffalo” 26:00 minutes
Featuring the voices of Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson, “The Gruffalo” shows a mother squirrel telling her children the story of a mouse who sets out to travel a dangerous path through the woods to find a tree with acorns. To save himself from dangerous predators, he makes up a story of a fearsome creature called a Gruffalo.
“Let’s Pollute” 6:26 minutes
Easily one of the most entertaining stories in the entire bunch, “Let’s Pollute” is done in the style of a 70s commercial and chronicles the history of pollution. It sounds really boring but is actually quite entertaining in a snarky and depressing way. It’s very tongue-in-cheek with lines like “Some of our efforts to pollute have been counter-productive like in the past women wearing shoes more than once,” or the tagline, “Don’t delay, pollute today.”
“The lost thing” 15 minutes
A boy who has forgotten all his stories in a strange and minimalist world discovers a large mechanic creature that looks like an odd lobster and acts like a lost dog. It’s a poignant and sweet story with the ultimate message, “Some things in life, they’re just plain lost.”
“Madagascar, a journey diary” 11:00 minutes
Flipping pages of a scrapbook lead us into a world of Madagascar and its colorful streets, accompanied by traditional music and showing a young man’s journey through the city. It’s in French, with English subtitles. They are simple animations, but they tell a much bigger and more complex story.
“The cow who wanted to be a hamburger” 5:27 minutes
Brightly colored kinetic images tell the story of a baby cow who becomes hypnotized with the idea of becoming a hamburger after seeing a billboard. He runs away from his mother, buffs up to become his dream, only to realize what he must sacrifice to save himself and the other cows. It actually features what may be the most bizarre “Rocky” training montage parody that I think I’ve ever seen.
“URS” 10:00 minutes
The poignant, compelling story is of a man who has taken care of his aging mother for years. He decides to set out on a perilous journey to carry his mother up a mountain to find a better situation for both of them. There are no words, but I was moved to tears by the images and extraordinary story-telling. Through some of the more harrowing scenes I held my breath with nerves. I won’t give the ending away, but I will say it packs an emotional wallop.
The live action features are:
“The confession” 25:17 minutes
In a lush country side, a boy named Sam and his friend Jacob prepare for their first Catholic confession. After trying to decide what to say in confession, they pull a prank that leads to tragedy after tragedy. It’s a startling shift from the sweet youthful innocence at the beginning of the film.
“The crush” 16:15 minutes
A little boy with a crush on his teacher is the focus of the film. At the beginning, he proposes to her only to discover that she is engaged to another man. It’s a film that alternates between sweet commentary on first love and the jealousy that often comes with it. I thought the film was going to fall into sadness, after the boy – who is obsessed with cowboy movies – discovers a gun that his father has and decides to fight for the honor of the woman he loves. Let’s just say the ending isn’t quite what you would expect and is actually quite charming.
“Wish 143” 22:55 minutes
This was one of my favorites from the entire selection. It’s about a teenage boy living in a hospital fighting terminal cancer. After deciding he doesn’t want to die a virgin, he sets out on a journey to have sex for the first time. He is aided by a funny and caring priest. The filmmakers did a wonderful job of not letting the story fall into a cruel or exploitative story. Instead, it is a poignant story about discovering life. I was pulled into the humor and sweetness throughout this short.
“Na Wewe” 18:39 minutes
Taking place in the early 90s, this story is about an attack on a minibus in the civil war-torn Burundi. There is a genocidal conflict between Hutus and Tutsis, and for the next 18 minutes the viewer is taken on a harrowing and devastating look at war.
“God of love” 18:32 minutes
During this short film, I kept wishing it was longer. Told in black and white, it’s the story of Raymond Goodfellow – a lowly Woody Allen-type character who lives in Brooklyn, plays in a jazz band with his best friend and his unrequited love Kelly. He happens to be a championship dart-thrower as well. His prayers are answered one night when a box of “love darts” are delivered to him.
It’s an insanely brilliant story that had me laughing with all the jokes and quips. “Do you want to hear a poem I wrote for you?” Raymond asks Kelly after stinging her with a love dart. “It’s nine pages long and in Portuguese.” After their first date fails, he goes on a journey to find his true love, and along the way matches up numerous couples, later becoming the “god of love” or Cupid. It’s a witty and clever story by Luke Matheny that got me excited for his next film.