2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films

One of the nicer aspects of the explosion of “alternative programming” at movie theatres the last few years is the annual showing of the short subjects in movie theatres. This first of three articles looks at the beloved animated short films.

The five nominated shorts run the gamut from light fare for the entire family to ruminations on sex and drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

 

BLIND VAYSHA
Country of origin: Canada
Language: English
Directed by: Theodore Ushev
Running time: 8mins

Synopsis: Young Vaysha was born with unusual sight: her left eye can see only the past and her right eye can see only the future, while the present is a blind spot. Called “Blind Vaysha” by the people of her village, the girl is tormented by the two realities that she cannot reconcile.

 

BORROWED TIME
Country of origin: United States of America
Language: English
Directed by: Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
Running Time: 8mins

Synopsis: A sheriff of the Old West returns to the scene of a tragic accident from his past that shaped his life. As memories wash over him, he is engulfed by emotion and must find the strength to carry on with his lifelong quest for redemption.

 

PEAR CIDER AND CIGARETTES
Country of origin: Canada & United Kingdom
Language: English
Directed by: Robert Valley and Cara Speller
Running Time: 35mins

 

Synopsis: Hard-living Techno Stypes has been Robert’s best friend since childhood, and over the years, Robert has been amazed by Techno’s ability to sabotage himself. When Techno is hospitalized in China and needs a liver transplant, Robert goes on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver.

 

PEARL
Country of origin: United States of America
Language: English
Directed by: Patrick Osborne
Running Time: 6mins

Synopsis: An itinerant musician travels around the country with his young daughter in their old hatchback and juggles his passion for performing with providing his daughter with a stable life. The daughter grows up with a love of music and adventure, and is able to repay her father for nurturing her creativity.

 

PIPER
Country of origin: United States of America
Language: English
Directed by: Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer
Running Time: 6mins

Synopsis: Young Piper, a sandpiper hatchling, leaves her nest for the first time to hunt for food but is too scared of the crashing waves to reach the yummy morsels hidden in the sand. After meeting an unusual ally, Piper attempts to face her fears and increase her confidence.

Of these five, “Piper” is easily the one seen by most people, having played in front of “Finding Dory” last summer. It’s cute, it’s funny and will likely be the one that gets the most votes in Oscar pools because of its familiarity. And, granted, Disney/Pixar has won two of the last four Oscars in this category. But that will likely be a sucker bet, because there is one cartoon short in this group that is better.

“Blind Vaysha” might be from Canada, but the feel is purely Eastern European. The artwork is as stunning as the prose is bizarre, and the work will likely be too deep for Academy voters.

“Borrowed Time” feels a lot like other works. The hero of the work feels like it could have been voiced by Sam Elliott. He sure does look a lot like Sam Elliott. The visuals are reminiscent of “Rango.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s lack of originality, and of a satisfying resolution to a already unsatisfactory story will keep it from the winner’s circle.

“Pear Cider and Cigarettes” is the clear outlier of the group. With a running time longer than all four other entries combined, “Pear Cider” is that story your friend tells that you’re kinda obliged to listen to that wasn’t very interesting to begin with and really doesn’t go anywhere for a very long time, and that clearly is far more interesting to the storyteller than anyone who was willing to listen. The animation is the best of this bunch, but that won’t be good enough for a victory.

Which leaves us with “Pearl,” the one story which will have everything Academy voters will be looking for in a movie: it’s well designed, tells an effective story with a clear beginning, middle and resolution, and it makes one feel good about themselves and the world around them. Come February 26th, it is the opinion of both Cassy and I that it will be Patrick Osborne’s name called out for this category.

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