2016 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts Dazzle, Inspire


Like most years, the Oscar animated shorts are an eclectic mix of creative enchantment. Every year, these nominated movie allow me to appreciate the medium I take for granted. With a brisk running time of 91 minutes, there is a lot to admire and fall in love with. Here is a run down with synopsis and intital reaction.

Sanjay’s Super Team – dir. Sanjay Patel, USA, 7 minutes

In SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM, the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios, accomplished artist Sanjay Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop-culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions. Sanjay is absorbed in the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into the traditions of his Hindu practice. Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.

This whimsical and enchanting infusion of modern superheroes with Hindu traditions, Sanjay Patel creatively invokes a sublime conflict between father and son, colorful comics and sacred texts, missionial destiny and peaceful reflection. It is sleek and super cool with bright tones and a scrappy attitude. Smart people would place bets on Sanjay winning the animated Oscar short though it is a runner up in my book.

Score: 8 out of 10



World of Tomorrow

Dir. Don Hertzfeldt, USA, 17 minutes

A little girl named Emily is taken on a fantastical tour of her distant future by a surprising visitor who reveals unnerving secrets about humanity’s fate.

A perfect animated short. So much has been said about Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, which is a breath taking experience. There’s nothing like this ever to live in the animated category during this or even other years. I am not sure if this could actually win, but I am rooting for this one to win. This boldly original science fiction tale involving a chosen girl as the world is ending is the vastly superior short nominated on this list.

Score: 10 out of 10


Bear Story

Dir. Gabriel Osorio, Chile, 11 minutes

Every day, a melancholy old bear takes a mechanical diorama that he has created out to his street corner. For a coin, passersby can look into the peephole of his invention, which tells the story of a circus bear who longs to escape and return to the family from which he was taken.

Cuddly and old fashioned, Bear Story has a charming and polite sensibility to it. Despite meandering at times with stale storytelling elements, it has some very good moments (the shadows in the toy house really sticks out to me). The dark moments overshadow the lighter tones that most audiences want from this.

Score: 7 out of 10


We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

dir. Konstantin Bronzit, Russia, 16 minuteS

Two best friends have dreamed since childhood of becoming cosmonauts, and together they endure the rigors of training and public scrutiny, and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their shared goal.

A cute movie that delves into serious issues. What a special short that says so much about companionship, the space program, and grief without saying anything at all…literally. No lines of dialogue are spoken. I found myself watching this over again to catch smaller details. I learned something new with each rematch. For a Russian animated short, emotional moments and witty gags have no language or cultural barriers.

Score: 8 out of 10



Dir. Richard Williams, UK, 6 minutes

Clocking in at six minutes, PROLOGUE describes an incident in the Spartan-Athenian wars of 2,400 years ago. In it, a small girl bears witness as warriors battle to death. The dialog-free project utilizes natural sounds to complement the intense animation (entirely animated by Richard Williams himself). Williams – who is best known for his work as animation director on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, his unfinished feature “The Thief and the Cobbler” and Academy Award-winning “A Christmas Carol “adaptation – has worked on PROLOGUE for many years in between other projects. It was finally completed this year at the Aardman Studios in Bristol, U.K.

The synopsis is longer than the brisk pencil drawn, battle ready sketch-book. It starts iut soft showing flowers than ends hard with men going into battle. While only lasting a few minutes, it is the shortest one yet feels so long. It is an admirable achievement but leaves much more to be desired. Bloody gentians isn’t one of them.

Score: 6 out of 10


The nominated Oscar animated shorts are playing in theaters and OnDemand.

About Kenny Miles

who has written 313 posts on The Movie Blog

Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion for interacting with moviegoers (something most movie pundits lack) as a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and working as floor staff/special events coordinator in the film community. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.