Ranked: 2020 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Ranked: 2020 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

Feb 09, 2020
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The 92nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony will happen tonight, February 9th. As in years past, we've taken a look at this year's short film competitions. The Academy defines a short film as an original motion picture running 40 minutes or less, and excludes all advertisments, unaired or unsold television episodes, or credit sequences from feature-length films. Our critic, Shawn Hazelett, watched and ranked all of this year's Oscar-nominated shorts. Here, he looks at this year's animated category.  

Want to judge for yourself? Click here to find a list of theaters and showtimes for this year's Oscar-nominated shorts.

1

Daughter

There’s not much of a story with this short, but there doesn’t need to be. Daughter tenderly observes a relationship between a father and daughter, neither of whom are very affectionate or expressive. It pinpoints little moments over the years where they offer one another subtle forms of endearment that often go unnoticed and the subsequent regrets and frustration that occurs when love is not reciprocated. Ultimately, however, the film is assuring, ending on a beat that’s muted, optimistic, and earned.

2

Memorable

This short about Alzheimers might feel tonally confused, switching on and off between fun and dark without impunity, but that confusion is the point: its main character alternates between his normal, jovial personality and confusion that creeps up on him without warning. No other film here takes better advantage of the medium. Characters are built through the main character’s eyes, but slowly their faces are obscured and their composites are literally stripped away. The story doesn’t wallow, however, implying that these details, while certainly important, can’t completely nullify the human experience.

3

Kitbull

This wonderful little short shows a scaredy alley cat afraid of a mean, ugly pitbull before slowly letting her guard down, allowing a nice, symbiotic friendship to blossom. A fine example of beauty in simplicity, Kitbull is fun and engaging precisely because it doesn’t spare viewers from a few harrowing moments.

4

Hair Love

A young, African-American girl and her widowed father attempt to style the young girl’s hair by following a YouTube instructional video recorded by the girl’s late mother. This short is both incredibly uncomplicated and incredibly sweet, unspectacular but also tidy and affirming. It’s hard to ask for more from a short film.

5

Sister

This one is tough. A Chinese narrator recounts growing up with his sister and the weird hijinks the two engaged in, only to reveal that his experiences were made up in his head. He never was able to experience these moments because his mother had an abortion. Why does it matter that he’s Chinese? Because it was a state-mandated abortion that restricts family size. Sister clearly wasn’t made to espouse religious or right-wing talking points and feels genuinely inspired by an actual experience, but its good intentions are marred by an incredibly manipulative story structure that feels in bad taste.

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