OSCAR-NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORTS — 3 stars — not rated; Tower
SALT LAKE CITY — Last year, retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant added a different kind of trophy to his collection when he became an Oscar-winner for his work on the animated short “Dear Basketball.”
Starting this weekend, the Salt Lake Film Society is preparing moviegoers for this year's Academy Awards — which airs Feb. 24 — by featuring a program of animated short films that have been nominated for an Oscar.
As a follow-up to last year’s slate, the lineup this year emphasizes a theme of parenting — four of the five nominees put parent-child relationships at the center of their narratives, and moms and dads might be the most appreciative audience for the program.
To fill the run time, two additional titles — “Wishing Box” and “Tweet Tweet” — have been added to the SLFS program, bringing the total presentation to 76 minutes. Audiences might consider that a bit of a stretch in terms of value, especially in comparison to the 143-minute documentary program, but the films are of notable quality.
Here’s a rundown of the program (“Wishing Box” and “Tweet Tweet” were not made available to critics).
‘Bao’ (8 minutes)
Most audiences will already be familiar with Pixar’s “Bao,” which ran last summer before screenings of “Incredibles 2.” Domee Shi and Becky Neimann-Cobb’s adorable, heartwarming story follows a middle-aged mother who tries to reconcile her relationship with her son through unique culinary means.
‘Late Afternoon’ (10 minutes)
Louise Bagnall and Nuria Gonzalez Blanco’s “Late Afternoon” tells the tender story of an elderly woman named Emily who is suffering from memory loss. As an attendant brings her tea and helps her start her day, Emily travels through an imaginative animated journey that weaves through memories of her childhood and adulthood as she tries to reconstruct her present reality.
‘Animal Behaviour’ (14 minutes)
Alison Snowden and David Fine’s “Animal Behaviour” is a fun short out of Canada about a group therapy session for a cat, a pig, a praying mantis and some sort of parasite. Led by a studious dog, things seem to be going according to routine until a gorilla named Victor joins the group and inspires everyone to revert to their base instincts.
‘Weekends’ (16 minutes)
Trevor Jimenez’s “Weekends” explores the challenges of shared custody arrangements through a young boy named Bruce. As he toggles back and forth between a weekday routine with his mother in the country and party time weekends in the city with his father (watching movies, playing with samurai swords and listening to Dire Straits), Bruce sees his parents start new relationships and try to move on with their lives, while still remaining connected to his.
‘One Small Step’ (8 minutes)Comment on this story
Space exploration was a theme at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which featured highlights like “Apollo 11” and “Troop Zero” that celebrated past NASA accomplishments. If you’re in the mood for more, Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas’ “One Small Step” is a charming animated short about a young girl who aspires to be an astronaut while growing up with her shoemaker father.
Rating explained: Pixar's “Bao” is rated G, but altogether, the animated shorts program lands in PG to soft-PG-13 territory in terms of content — mostly due to adult themes and dialogue (“Animal Behaviour” makes jokes about the praying mantis eating its mate during sex, for example).