The entire week we have celebrated all the Academy Award nominated animated shorts by reviewing one of the shorts each day. With only a few more hours left until the Oscars ceremony it’s time for us to discuss all of our personal favorite shorts. In this article some of our writers will discuss their favorite animated short nominated for an Oscar tonight and why they think that particular short deserves the Academy Award the most.
Hannah Wilkes – The Dam Keeper
This year, one animated short in particular stands out to me. If I could see any of the nominated shorts win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, it would be Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi’s The Dam Keeper. To me, The Dam Keeper is the perfect balance of simple and appealing character design, moving story, beautiful art direction, and intricate symbolism. The result is a deeply emotional and complex story that feels effortless.
When first watching The Dam Keeper, I was immediately captivated by the pastel and painterly style of the short. The beautiful backgrounds show amazing use of color and texture and the European-influenced setting complements the animal characters and contributes to the short’s ‘fable-like’ feel. The characters’ designs really draw the viewer into the story. I am a firm believer that animated shorts require strong character design, especially if (as with The Dam Keeper) the story is told with very little dialogue. As a viewer, I really appreciated that I was able to understand almost everything I needed to know about the protagonists, Pig and Fox (as well as the myriad of supporting animal characters) just by seeing them on the screen. So much of these characters’ traits and dispositions are communicated through their designs (and, of course, the skillful animation that brings them to life).
However, the main element of The Dam Keeper that really makes me believe that this short is deserving of the award for Best Animated Short Film is its story. While The Dam Keeper is one of this year’s longer animated shorts its length, rather than being a hindrance, really works to the film’s advantage. As a result, The Dam Keeper is able to present an elaborate story with developed themes and real substance that will immediately enchant anyone who watches it.
Morgan Stradling – The Bigger Picture
As usual, this year’s contenders for Best Animated Short for the 2015 Academy Awards are top notch. From bold and simple traditional animation to painterly and experimental forms, the sheer variety in animation styles in this year’s batch is inspiring, making me appreciate the medium even more.
Every year, Disney/Pixar has a dog in the race and this year it literally is a dog, an adorable Boston Terrier named Winston. The story focuses on a simple love story from the viewpoint of the pooch. The animation style is the 2D/CGI hybrid style, which the studio first debuted for the short Paperman. While I loved this short and was smiling the entire time I watched it, when compared to some of the other shorts, it just didn’t quite have the ‘it factor’ that the other shorts had.
A Single Life, while cute and with a fun ending, again, didn’t quite cut it for me. I enjoyed Me and My Mouton, as well, but really my decision between the best animated short this year lay between The Bigger Picture and The Dam Keeper. Interestingly, both shorts used a painterly style, although the execution is about as different as different can be.
All that being said, after watching and re-watching both shorts, I feel that this year’s winner should be The Bigger Picture. This film had me thinking and pondering on its message for a long time after the credits rolled. Anyone who knows me, knows that I typically lean towards anything happy, jolly, and Disneyfied, which is why no one would bat an eyelash if I picked The Dam Keeper or Feast. But, to me, The Bigger Picture is the better picture. It’s mature, serious, and solemnly heartfelt. No to mention the painstaking work that went into creating its life size, painted animations. It’s simply wonderful and a winner. That’s what my gut is telling me, at least.
Max den Hartog – The Dam Keeper
Choosing an animated short that deserves the Academy Award most was hard. All the nominated shorts this year have something that make them unique and Oscar-worthy but after watching all the shorts several times and really thinking about what I liked and disliked about each short I decided that The Dam Keeper is the short that should take home the little golden statue tonight.
The Dam Keeper is a beautifully told story enhanced by its amazing animation and art style. The team behind the short managed to tell an incredibly touching and dark story in a very simple but effective way. By using cute animals as the main characters in this heartfelt story the powerful message of the short comes across in a very effective way but, at the same time, makes the short suitable for people of all ages. By using very little dialogue and mainly music to move the plot along, The Dam Keeper managed to move me to tears with only using its incredible animation and storytelling.
I think that The Dam Keeper deserves the award most because it is a heartfelt short with a beautiful message and a story and amazing animation that, in only 18 minutes, moved me more than some features can accomplish in 90 minutes. While the other shorts are pretty amazing as well, what makes this short the true winner for me is its story with its very powerful message about bullying, friendship, and acceptance.
So there you have it: the shorts that three of our writers would love to see win the Oscar tonight. We can’t wait to see which short will win the award and we wish the best of luck to the amazing artists behind the shorts during the ceremony tonight.
The 2015 Oscars will air on ABC tonight. The red carpet starts at 7 pm EST / 6 pm CT / 4 pm PST / 12 am GMT / 1 am CET. The ceremony starts at 8:30 pm EST / 7:30 pm CT / 5:30 pm PST / 1:30 am GMT / 2:30 CET.
Let us know in the comments below which short was your favorite and which short you think deserves the award most!
Read all our reviews of the nominated shorts here: