After trickling out for a few months, all 5 nominees for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film are now online.
Paperman may have already won the Internet’s heart, and Fresh Guacamole definitely makes for a tasty little bonbon, but to my mind neither number among the very best here.
Head Over Heels is a melancholy stop-motion story about being anything but, as a couple struggles with what it feels like to drift apart while still living under the same roof for too long. It’s every bit as touching as Paperman, but its romantic catharsis comes not from a sudden burst of magic but from hard-earned truth. Update, Feb. 14, 2013: This video has been removed by request.
By far the funniest of this year’s batch, Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” also shows an attention to theme and storytelling that the Simpsons hasn’t shown since its seasons numbered in the single digits. Directed by Simpsons Movie director David Silverman and set in “The Ayn Rand School for Tots,” it’s part social satire, part loss-of-innocence story, and part Looney Tunes-style caper. Update, Feb. 14, 2013: This video is currently unavailable.
Perhaps the best of the bunch, though, is Adam and Dog, from 27-year-old director Minkyu Lee. As the title implies, it’s a Genesis story that focuses instead on man’s best friend, and is told from the dog’s perspective. If you know your Bible you can guess where this is going—my one complaint is that the short could do a better job of not blaming Eve once again—but it’s worth sinking into for Lee’s crisp soundscapes and painterly compositions. It’s the most vividly imagined of all the shorts, and a reminder of why, if you can swing it, you should see all these on the big screen. Update, Feb. 14, 2013: This video has been removed by request.
And here are Paperman and Fresh Guacamole:
The Best Animated Film of the Year