ROAD TO OSCARS: The Animated Shorts (2021)
This Icelandic short focuses on an eclectic mix of people all living in the same building, and dealing with the crushing mundanity of everyday existence. Whilst it does have some funny moments, overall it is a bit dull, although that might just be the point! There’s quite a lot of characters in a short space of time so it is hard to really relate to anyone as the moments don’t have much time to breathe. There’s also a very unnecessary reliance on fart gags and one of the most awkward off-screen sex scenes you could imagine! And yes you did read that bit correctly. It’s certainly one of the more unique offerings of this year, but without a clear message or captivating plot, it is unlikely to make waves.
Genius Loci ★★★½
Playing with abstract images and utilizing interesting shapes and colours, Genius Loci is certainly visually striking although it becomes a little alienating as it progresses. There’s an unpredictability in this short that is quietly captivating however and it’s expert use of colour, texture, movement and sound is oddly hypnotic. You might not realise what it is you’re looking at, but it is easily one of the more creative offerings in the line-up this year.
The intricacy of this short is pretty mind-blowing, and it’s continuous loop style means that it is hard to look away from. Opera is non-narrative and deals with religion, class struggle, racism, war and terrorism on a gigantic canvas of multiple moving pieces and interconnected sections of a pyramid. It is hard to describe and truly unlike any other short I have seen, but is absolutely one that needs to be experienced if possible. It is a bit of a sensory overload in places, but it is an incredible technical achievement and fully deserving of it’s nomination.
Many will assume this short to be the frontrunner in this category simply because it has the Pixar name attached to it, however this category is much more open than perhaps it used to be, when Disney dominated for decades It is a strong category this year, but there is much to appreciate about Burrow beyond its well-known studio. For a start it is hand drawn which is a welcome change for the Pixar branch of the Disney animated family, and whilst the storyline is simple, it is super cute with some fun setpieces and great character design. Set to music, this otherwise silent short features a little bunny desperately digging to find a new home and finding that all the spaces are occupied. There’s some great sight gags and physical humour, and the music choice gives it that Fantasia flavour as well which is a lovely touch. It lacks the finesse of some of Pixar’s previous wins in this category, such as 2018’s Bao, but it’s hard not to be charmed by it.
If Anything Happens, I Love You ★★★★½
Inspired by the equally gorgeous Father and Daughter by Michaël Dudok de Wit (the winner of this award in 2001), the stripped back simplicity of this short, with its pencil-sketch style and beautiful score is instantly poignant. We’re introduced to a couple who have grown distant from each other, watched over by shadows of themselves. It becomes apparent that they have lost a child, but the true beauty of this short is in the way it slowly peels back the emotional layers. Watching the story unfold in it’s quietly devastating way, to its emotional gut-punch reveal is a masterclass in storytelling and the fact it achieves this in such a short amount of time is remarkable. An incredibly powerful piece of storytelling and a devastating portrayal of grief, it is hard to imagine what will be able to beat this film on Oscar night!
Shorts TV presents the Oscar-nominated shorts in theatres from April 2, 2021.
The films go into theatres around the world shortly after nominations are announced and are not released anywhere else until a few days before the Oscars®, when they are also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand.