Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The return of OSCAR DEATH RACE (shorts)

We're just a few days from the Oscars, and just a few days after I finished talking way too much about movies I actually liked this year. Sadly, there's no other way to do it. So here we present our Oscar preview which, do to me having a job, is gonna be a hell of a thing to try and finish on time, never mind do with any amount of effort. Nevertheless, I feel like it's something we have to do. So the Oscar Death Race is going to be a sprint this year, but here we go, starting as we did last year with the non-Documentary Shorts, which might very well be playing in a theater near you as we speak.

Best Short Film, Live Action

- The Door - dir. Juanita Wilson
- Istället för abrakadabra (Instead of Abracadabra) - dir. Patrik Eklund
- Kavi - dir. Greg Helvey
- Miracle Fish - dir. Luke Doolan
- The New Tenants - dir. Joachim Back

Who Should Win?: By far my favorite of the five was Australia's Miracle Fish (which you can stream here, about a bullied kid who falls asleep at school and wakes up to find it deserted. It's not perfect, but the middle section in which our hero walks through the empty building is really great filmmaking.

Who Will Win?: I think that we can disregard The New Tenants, a silly little bit of violence with Vincent D'Onofrio getting emotional and Kevin Corrigan channeling Walken. I also think and pray we can disregard Instead of Abracadabra. I know everyone is saying that it's similar in style to Napoleon Dynamite, but I didn't think it was possible that a Swedish short film nominated for an Oscar could be this similar to Napoleon Dynamite.

So that leaves the two "serious" entries: The Door, which is about Chernobyl, and Kavi, which is about Debt Bondage in India. (I do think films being reduced to their subject matter sucks, but these are the Oscars). I'm split on whether the latter will be helped or hurt by its similarity in setting (and texture, it's mud not poop in this case, but it looks similar) to Slumdog Millionaire (that movie seems so long ago). In the end, I'll wager that it helps, and the main character's likability elevates it over the thoroughly bleak Irish/Ukranian film. That's Kavi for the win.

Best Short Film, Animated

- French Roast - dir. Fabrice Joubert
- Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty - dir. Nicky Phelan
- La dama y la muerte (The Lady and the Reaper) - dir. Javier Recio Garcia
- Logorama - dir. François Alaux, Herve de Crecy, and Ludovic Houplain
- Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' - dir. Nick Park

Who Should Win?: Probably Wallace and Gromit again, but I'd very much also like to praise La dama y la muerte, which is a jaunty little picture that seems to be of the opinion that if an old person wants to die, you should just let them die.

Who Will Win?: Nick Park already has three Oscars in this category (and one for Animated Feature), but I just don't see them giving it to anyone else, especially in a year when there's no hand-drawn option and no Pixar option either. Logorama is the only other noteworthy thing here is Logorama, an action cartoon almost entirely made up of corporate logos. It's conceptually interesting for about a minute, and then it's ruined by cop/Tarantinoesque dialogue that doesn't at all work as satire, so must just be written by idiots. French Roast and Granny O'Grimm are pleasant and shrill respectively, but both are minor even for this category. Wallace and Gromit all the way.

(Cartoon Brew has links to view all the animated shorts online here)

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