The 90th Annual Academy Awards are tomorrow, and like many others, I've decided to ponder ever so pointlessly on my thoughts on the contenders.
To be honest, I never really follow the whole Oscar race too closely. The only categories I pay attention to are Best Animated Short and Best Animated Feature. And the feature award is more or less dominated by Disney/Pixar, (a Disney or Pixar title has won nine out of the last ten years), so any pondering of this category seems more and more futile each year. This year, unsurprisingly, Coco had an impressive emotional resonance, a captivating color palette, and it was fun for the whole family. It will likely win. The End.
Now moving on to the shorts category, which I find far more interesting, as it has historically been a more diverse mix of mainstream vs. indie work, so it's anyone's guess who will win. My thoughts on the five nominees:
Negative Space by Ru Kuwathata and Max Porter
My personal favorite of the five, and the one I hope wins. Based on a poem by Ron Koertge, the story is a unique commentary of a father and son relationship told through packing and suitcases. Dazzling stop motion, and a very intelligent use of animation as both a metaphor and a thematic and narrative through-line that serves the emotional elements of the story. Superbly done and highly recommended!
Dear Basketball by Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
Despite its glowing reception that I spoke of in my last post, the short itself ultimately feels like it wants to say more than it actually does. And it's hard not to view this as nothing more than a Kobe Bryant vanity project, despite the genius of Glenn Keane's animation and John William's score. It also doesn't help that it's stirred up its fair share of controversy. But hey, it might still win, like it did at the Annies.
Lou by Dave Mullins
Pixar is unavoidable by all accounts with animation, and while I grow frustrated by their unfairly ubiquitous presence (their short Piper won last year, not to mention countless other past victories), their new short Lou is by far one of their best, and quite topical, with an anti-bullying message, and a rather unique 'monster' in a lost-and-found bin. Probably the most likely to win.
Revolting Rhymes by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer
A very funny, revisionist fairy tale setting, and an impressive mash up of Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, Snow White, and plenty of other hi-jinks. It has a unique and simplistic use of CGI, but story-wise, it's rather long, as it's one whole episode of a two-part series. So the whole thing as a stand-alone work feels both excessive and incomplete at the same time.
Garden Party by ILLOGIC
Amazing photo-realistic CGI, adorable frogs and insects, no dialogue, and a mysterious chain of events that leaves the viewer pondering why these animals are invading a human's mansion. But the overall lull in the pacing, and the underwhelming payoff make you wonder what the whole point of the story was in the first place.
What I want to win: Negative Space
What I think will win: Lou or Dear Basketball
Even more unsettling is the recent change in the Academy voting process, which may likely tilt the scales in favor of more industry heavy candidates, so if there's any campaigning to be done for the foreign and independent creators, now's the time to lend support!
I look forward to seeing how accurate my predictions will be, and then ultimately realizing none of this matters in the long run! Or maybe it does in some small way.. who the heck knows?