OSCAR-NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORTS — 3 stars — not rated; Tower
SALT LAKE CITY — Starting this weekend, the Salt Lake Film Society is showcasing a collection of Oscar-nominated animation shorts in the run-up to this year’s Academy Awards. This year’s lot boasts a wealth of creativity that explores a variety of animation styles, and the program should be an excellent option for families.
The total collection, being shown at Tower Theatre, features five short films that are nominated for awards and three bonus shorts that push the program’s running time out to 83 minutes.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll see:
'Dear Basketball' (5 minutes): This short from director Glen Keane is a kind of farewell tribute from longtime Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who retired after the 2015-2016 season. Framed as a letter to the sport he loves — and narrated by Bryant himself — it features some creative chalk-style animation that is fun to look at, but to be honest, your final verdict may have more to do with whether you’re a Lakers fan.
'Garden Party' (7 minutes): Easily the most macabre entry in the group (and the one credited to the most directors — six!), “Garden Party” is a CGI short that follows a group of frogs as they explore the cold and empty aftermath of a chaotic shooting at some kind of multimillion-dollar estate. It’s very interesting visually, even if the brief story’s dark conclusion feels a little too anticlimactic.
'LOU'(7 minutes): Most audiences will recognize Pixar’s “LOU,” which ran this past summer before screenings of “Cars 3.” Dave Mullins’ story of a ragtag collection of lost and found items coming to life to teach a lesson to a playground bully is creative, sweet and a tight narrative gem. Definitely one of the best of the bunch.
'Negative Space' (5 minutes): Kids may not appreciate “Negative Space” quite as much as “LOU,” but adults will adore this stop-motion short from Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter about a young boy who bonds with his father by making a ritual out of packing his suitcase for business trips. Stop-motion never ceases to look fantastic, and “Negative Space” is no exception.Comment on this story
'Revolting Rhymes' (29 minutes): Based on the book by Roald Dahl, “Revolting Rhymes” is the longest entry of the animation program, featuring a creative and wry mashup of several familiar fairy tales such as "The Three Little Pigs," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and "Little Red Riding Hood." The mini-saga is narrated by a beleaguered wolf, who tells his tale to a nervous woman in pink at a diner. The effort isn’t quite as good or memorable as some of the shorter competitors, but it should be a lot of fun for anyone familiar with the source material.
The program isn’t rated, and the three bonus shorts ("Lost Property Office," "Coin Operated" and "Achoo") weren’t made available for critic screening, but aside from the sight of a bloated dead body in “Garden Party” which may be a little frightening for young children, the collection is pretty family friendly.