Oscar Pool Help: Animated Short Subject

We know how important it is for you to win your Oscar office pool. But how do you pick some of those more obscure categories, like Best Animated Short Subject? Only two of the five nominated cartoons, “The ChubbChubbs” and “Mike’s New Car,” have any kind of name recognition, the former having been attached to theatrical prints of “Men In Black II” while the latter is part of the special features on the “Monsters Inc” DVD.

But what about the other three? You probably haven’t seen them and chances are you never will. So how do you pick wisely? Today, I will help you try to make as best an informed decision as I can.

Cathedral is a six and a half minute CG animated tale about a stranger who discovers a forest-like cathedral, learning his presence there is for a reason. Made in Poland, it is a beautifully rendered adventure story that uses the visual medium to its full advantage. This is my pick to win the award this year, and after seeing the ninety second trailer at the site linked above, you’ll probably agree. Please note the trailer is in DivX format, so you will either need to download the free DivX media player or make sure your media player has the latest DivX codecs.

The ChubbChubbs is a six minute CG animated sci-fi short about a lowly bar janitor on an alien colony who tries to warn the patrons of the impending arrival of the dreaded ChubbChubbs. It’s cute and mildly funny in spots, but is no real threat to take home the big prize. You can view the entire short for free from the link provided, but be forewarned you must download Movielink’s proprietary software, also provided free of charge, in order to view the short. Available in Real and Windows Media Format.

Das Rad (Rocks) is an eight minute stop-motion animated comedy about two rocks on a hillside, Hew and Kew, observing and commenting on life in the valley below. Made in Germany, the film is well made and has an inside chance of taking home the Oscar. Currently, the short in unavailable online. The link above will take you to the filmmaker’s site, where you can learn more about the film and see production and behind-the-scenes photos.

Mike’s New Car is a four minute CG animated comedy that follows the misadventures of Mike Wazowski and his roommate James P. Sullivan as Mike shows off his new car. The short is inventive, perfectly utilizing the chemistry these two characters created in the 2001 film “Monsters, Inc.” However, since Pixar has previously won three Oscars in this category (“For The Birds” last year, “Geri’s Game” in 1998 and “Tin Tiy” in 1989), chances are voters will give someone else the award. “Mike’s New Car” can be seen in the special features section of the “Monsters, Inc.” DVD

Mount Head (Atama-Yama) is a ten minute hand drawn animated feature about a man who lives with a cherry tree growing out of his head, after eating some cherry seeds, a modern interpretation of the traditional Japanese Rakugo story “Atama-yama” set in contemporary Tokyo. Best compared to the works of American cartoonist Bill Plympton, this strange film might be too bizarre for Academy viewers.

If you would like to catch these five short subjects on the big screen, Apollo Cinema has packaged these together with four of the five nominees for Live Action Short Subject, which will screen in the following locations:

Laemmle’s Fairfax Cinemas in Los Angeles, March 14 through 27
Vision Cinemas in Washington DC, March 14 through 27
Coolidge Corner Theatre (site closed) in Brookline MA, March 16 only
Two Boots Pioneer Theatre in New York City, March 19 through April 1
Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma City, March 20 and 21 only
Magnolia Theatre in Dallas, March 21 through 27
Key Cinemas in Indianapolis, March 21 through 27

The collection will also tour through Albuquerque, Hartford, Lexington, Milwaukee and Seattle this spring.