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A Look At The Animated Short Film Oscar Contenders

A Look At The Animated Short Film Oscar Contenders

The Guild Cinema (3405 Central Ave. NE, Albuquerque) Will Screen All Oscar-Nominated Short Films Feb. 10-17

“Borrowed Time”

Directors: Andrew Coats, Lou Hamou-Lhadj

Though not officially a Pixar production, this side project from animators of the studio giant shows that at least some at Pixar are thinking beyond their usual demographic.

“Borrowed Time” is a beautifully-rendered story about a sheriff trying to overcome a haunting event from his past. It’s a simple, singular story, and compelling enough for what it is. The short’s strength comes from its sparse use of dialogue, instead utilizing a Western score that is appropriately evocative of its themes.


Director: Patrick Osborne

Osborne brings us a fantastically directed short that, while simple in animation style, has a huge emotional payoff.

“Pearl” recounts the changing relationship between a father and daughter living out of a car, showing us that it isn’t necessarily where we are that makes a place a home, but rather who we are with.

A great original song that plays throughout helps get the theme across, but it’s the tried-and-true technique of showing how priorities change over time that makes “Pearl” perhaps the most universally engaging of the bunch – even if it doesn’t particularly bring anything new to the table in terms of narrative.

“Blind Vaysha

Director: Theodore Ushev

In sharp contrast to “Pearl,” “Blind Vaysha” is the most difficult to engage with from the start, in terms of animation style and storytelling.

However, it will probably stay in your mind the longest.

Vaysha is a girl cursed with only being able to see the past through her left eye, and the future through her right. Her plight will make you rethink how we tend to take living in the present for granted.

If not, the short’s narrator will accomplish that task, addressing the audience explicitly in the end in a tone that feels strict without completely venturing into that territory. More than anything, it’s a warning we didn’t know we needed, delivered via hand-drawn animation that is simultaneously engrossing and disturbing.


Director: Alan Barillaro

Pixar’s official entry in the Best Animated Short race is also the most perfectly executed of the bunch.

“Piper” introduces – in stunning, nearly photorealistic fashion – the audience to an adorable young bird trying to get out of its comfort zone on the beach where it resides. There’s obviously no dialogue, but Barillaro makes sure we understand what is going on, be it through Piper’s incessant chirping or the fantastic score that swells up and dials down at the perfect moments.

“Piper” is equal parts sweet, funny and intelligent, with a pervading sense of wonder stitching it all together. And it has Oscar glory written all over it.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

Director: Robert Valley

A personal account of his decades-long friendship with a troublemaker who is simultaneously in control and out of control, Robert Valley’s “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” is the longest of the group at 35 minutes.

It’s easy to tell how much this project means to Valley, with its acute focus on Frank Miller-esque visuals. It’s the most mature entry in the race (put the kids to sleep before watching this one), and while some may find themselves lost in the stripped-down visual style, “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” feels, more than anything, like the end of a long journey for Valley.

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David Lynch is an award-winning film critic and journalist and the current editor-in-chief of the New Mexico Daily Lobo.

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