Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Shorts Review - R.J. Cavender

The 2010 Academy Award Nominated Short Films program came to the Loft Cinema this past week. The event was at near-capacity both nights I attended, with the evenings split into two categories: Live Action Shorts and Animated Shorts.

Ballots were available to all audience members to vote on their favorite films from each program, with the winning predictions being eligible for free passes to future shows at The Loft.

Of the Live Actions Shorts, there were two movies in particular that sent the audience into laughing fits, “The New Tenants” and “Instead of Abracadabra”. Both of these shorts were comedies, and while the other films were certainly worth viewing, the three remaining films ranged from heavy handed and dark, to outright depressing.

My choice of the two comedic entries would be “The New Tenants” from Denmark. From the first frame of the film, the audience was treated to the overblown world-view of a smack-talking chain smoker who thinks he can diagnose all of the world’s problems from the sanctity of his breakfast table. That is, until he and his roommate, the proverbial ‘new tenants’ in the building, meet their neighbors and become entangled in a web of confusion that involves a jealous husband, a sweaty drug dealer, and an industrial size bag of heroin. It’s funnier than it sounds, trust me. And as pitch-black comedies go, this one is one of the better ones I’ve seen in short film format. Highly recommended!

“Instead of Abracadabra” was charming in its own lopsided way; a tale guy who is quite possibly the world’s worst magician, and the lengths he’ll go to in impressing the girl of his dreams. This one relied more on prop gags and physical humor, while “The New Tenants” was fueled more on snappy dialogue and the escalating situation the characters found themselves in. But, both films had the theater roaring with laughter and each had their own special qualities that made them endearing, wildly entertaining, and memorable.

The second night of programming brought the Animated Shorts program, and again just from audience reaction I can say that the two films best received were the new Wallace and Gromit short “A Matter of Loaf and Death” and the Argentinean entry “Logorama”.

Personally, Wallace and Gromit shorts have never done much for me. The films are fun, and cheeky, but ultimately I feel the running times are generally too long to retain interest. This one was no exception. I love the Claymation that Wallace and Gromit director Nick Park uses and think it’s far the best looking for the process, but ultimately I feel his shorts are just too long. A half-hour “short” seems anything but.

My personal choice for Animated Short would have to go to the wildly inventive “Logorama” from director Nicolas Schmerkin. The entire film was created using nothing but corporate logos and mascots from over 2000 different companies. For the life of me I have no clue how he was able to release this without pending litigation by these companies, but the ending result is just fantastic. The film itself was a high-speed action romp through a fictional LA, but part of the real experience was the realization that I personally recognized almost every single logo that was used. It’s kind of eye-opening, and the film can be viewed on many different levels.

I’d also like to mention that of the Animated Shorts there were other films that seemed to keep the audience laughing for their entire run-time, but I felt both were too short to be really considered.

Those films were “Granny O’Grimms ‘Sleeping Beauty” from Ireland and “The Lady and The Reaper” from Spain. Both were fun little encounters with some really innovative looking animation, but having run times under ten minutes I felt like they were more of the viral video variety-- a funny clip you’d send a friend on YouTube. Both were great, and worth looking up online, but my vote is for “Logorama” to win this year. If this year’s presentation is any indication of things to come in the world on animation, then we’re going to see some really incredible stuff in the years to come.

For a full list of all the 2010 Academy Award Nominated Short Films and information on where you can watch them online before the show, check out the Shorts International website at:


  1. Unfortunately, I only caught the second night of shorts (the animated showcase). I agree that "Logoroma" stole the show (and won the Oscar) but I really liked "The Lady and the Reaper". Although it was short it had a vibrancy that lasted throughout, an almost Looney Tunes-like quality to it.

    Although I love Wallace and Grommit, I agree with your point. Oddly enough, I prefer the full length feature Curse of the Were-Rabbit.