Commentary 19 Nov 2012 06:55 am

A Short List

Many are called but few are chosen

Let’s look a bit more closely at those films which have fallen onto the short list as potential nominees for the Oscar. Of 56 films, ten have been selected for this honor. In the past, this list would never have been released, now it’s part of the process, and a good one, I think. Let’s make the most of the feast.

Back in 1984 when I was nominated, I learned of the nomination the night before the full list of three nominees were announced. Prior to that I had no clue I was even being considered. As a matter of fact, after submitting the film, Doctor DeSoto, I virtually forgot about having entered it. I’d considered it such a ridiculous long shot that I knew there was no chance of it happening.

The nominees have two short periods of glory, and the most has to be enjoyed when you’re on the list. On January 10th 2013, the nominees will be selected. That gives those who are on this list now a good six weeks to cherish the moment. First and foremost, promote yourself and the film. Go out there and let everyone you know hear that you’ve been selected for the list, and seek out every potential way of publicizing the event. Call any local paper and remind them. Getting your name in the Pennysaver is as important as getting it on your own blog. Speaking about blogs, contact everyone you know who has one and make a pest of yourself. This is an opportunity to promote yourself, and you have to take it. God willing, you’ll get to do it all again when you get on the nominee list.

When I was nominated, Entertanment Tonight did no stories on the Best Animated Short. I contacted them so often that they did one (which aired the night of the Awards Show) and they’ve continued to do one every year since. Maybe you can convince TMZ of the importance of the event.

Oh, yes. Back to the list.
These are the ten films that have been selected to move forward from the original list of 56.

Adam and Dog

Minkyu Lee is a Disney veteran, as are many of the animators who worked on this film; on that took over two years to make. The anmated short takes the Adam and Eve story, allows it to happen off screen, and focuses on a dog who befriends Adam. The character animation is well oned and finely produced, the graphic design is beautiful, and Joey Newman’s music shows his relation to the famous and talented Newman family. The film is a winner, especially, I would guess, in Hollywood where they crave such beauiful animation. Several friends questioned the Christian sub themes, but somehow I missed that as I just watched the animation and movement. It’s a gorgeous old-school film and could do well. It won the “Annie” award last year as Best Animated Short.
Click here to see a clip of the film.


Katsuhiro Otomo, the director of this 21 minute short has a large reputation among Anime directors. His film, Akira, is almost legendary among Japan’s feature length animated films. I find that film’s craftsmanship enormously successful despite the complexity built into just about every single scene. Combustible adds a delicacy to that craftsmanship and a story that, without dialogue, tells a complicated tale. It’s an enormously attractive film and I’d like to know who the audience is that such a short, albeit a long short, obviously has a big budget. The film is a triumph for Otomo, and I rather expected it to show up on this list.


Léo Verrier, the director of Dripped is part of a production company named ChezEddy. The company was created in 2002 in Paris; the in-house animation studio is just a part of the company. The film, Dripped, is the story of an art thief, an artist searching for a style. He eats and breathes the art he steals until, finally, something original comes out of him. The film has often been described as an homage to Jackson Pollack. Romanticizing Pollack’s intentions seems to indicate that art history ended back in the early fifties. Perhaps it’s just that he was a convenient stopping point, but I would think if you’re taking “Art” to another level, it should end with something new and vibrant in THIS film. Perhaps the marriage of 2D and 3D cgi is the medium – the dripped art that the title indicated. Unfortunately, for me the story felt marginally dated, though it is graphically interesting and the telling of the story is arresting.
Go here to see a clip.

The Eagleman Stag

Mikey Please, directed this extraordinary 3D stop motion short at the Royal College of Art as a thesis film. Immediately, it was a success on the Festival circuit, ultimately winning BAFTA’s 2011 award as the Best Animated Short. The story is intelligent, the technique feels original (though it reminds me of some of Michel Ocelot’s early films), and the approach is funny. My guess is that this is one to beat on the way to the gold.
Go here to see a clip from the film.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Raul Garcia has been dedicated to teling Edgar Allan Poe stories in cg animation. His first film, The Tell Tale Heart, was a somewhat cheeky effort given that the UPA, James Mason film was a classic of the form. However, Garcia’s short was received very well and won a mass of awards from many International festivals. He’s worked on many international features including Asterix and Caesar, The Land Before Time and The Chipmunks Great Adventure. His work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit brought him into the Disney fold working on a number of their recent features, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules and Fantasia 2000. He left Disney to become a sequence director on numerous non-Disney features. In 2002, partnering with Manuel Sicilia he joined Kandor Graphics which became Kandor Moon with the participation of Antonio Banderas. They produced the Oscar nominated short, The Lady and the Reaper. Both The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher will be part of the feature, The Extraordinary Tales, the title of the Poe feature.
Click here to see a clip.

Fresh Guacamole

The animation artist known as PES has finally made the short list after doing about a thousand tiny films. They’ve all bee stop motion pieces employing odd objects to replace other objects. In “Fresh Guacamole,” a hand grenade, a pool ball, a baseball, dice, a green golf ball, and christmas tree lights all replace the ingredients in the making of guacamole. He’s done other such films as Western Spaghetti. I find his films clever, smart and usually just about the right length. However, after seeing a couple of them, a sameness starts to set in. Go here if you want to see a bunch of them. Usually the Academy goes for short and funny and clever. Possibly a good chance for the nominations. Showtime had financed a number of these shorts, and it looks like Fresh Guacamole was theirs as well. Michael Eisner‘s The Tornante Company has just hired PES to direct Garbage Pail Kids movie. This will be his first feature (and probably his first film over ten minutes.)
See Fresh Guacamole here.

Head Over Heels

Timothy Reckart directed this clever stop motion 10 minute short film. In it, a man and his wife are obviously at odds with each other as each lives on separate planes. He’s on the floor, and she’s on the ceiling (or is it the other way around?). The film was done at the National Film and Television School in Ireland. It took 11 students about 14 months to complete under Mr. Reckart’s supervision. Timothy Reckart seems to be currently involved with the company Dragonframe.
See a clip from Head Over Heels here

The Longest Daycare

David Silverman, who has been connected with The Simpson’s for many years, directed this short film featuring Maggie, as a theatrical film, just as he directed the theatrical feature a couple of years ago. This short is quite funny in the best way of The Simpsons’ television show. I’m not sure it goes very far beyond the best of the TV show, but it is funny. I hope it’s also an indication that there may be another Simpson’s feature in the mix. The last one was a real treat, and it’d be great to see it go into production NOW when the material is still relatively fresh.
See the trailer for The Longest Daycare, here.


I first saw Paperman at a screening of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the recent NY Film Festival. There I briefly met John Kahrs, who seemed nervous but proud of his excellent effort. The film is an odd combination of 2D flat animation and 3D cgi. I feel like I’m missing something whenever they describe what they’ve done. It seems like they animated in cgi, flattened the art and rotoscoped it placing some hand-drawn bits over the cgi bits (such as hair).I’m not quite sure why it wasn’t just animated flat; there doesn’t seem to be anything THAT special about the movement that couldn’t or wouldn’t have been done with any of the good 2D animators they work with. But as I say, I must be missing something. As it is, the film is nice with a great musical score by Christophe Beck, who previously had done The Hangover, Cedar Rapids and The Muppets – all fine scores.
The clip for Disney’s Paperman can be see by clicking here


Michaela Pavlátová is a Czech director who worked in France for Screbleu Productions. The film won the Cristal Award at the recent Annecy Animaton Festival. I’s the story of a tram operator who has numerous sexual fantasies while piloting her vehicle. The animation is bouncy fun, as is the musical score. It’s a light film that would have offended me had the director been a male. As it is it just seems dated to me in its sexual override. But those are just my prurient thoughts on the movie. Not quite grown up.
Watch a clip from Tram here.

8 Responses to “A Short List”

  1. on 19 Nov 2012 at 10:32 am 1.Luke said …

    I agree with you completely–the film to beat is The Eagleman Stag. Brilliantly done. I also agree with you about Paperman–a fine, if not original idea–way overproduced for it’s meager end.

  2. on 19 Nov 2012 at 11:36 am 2.Pierre said …

    I haven’t seen any of these other than what’s been available on the internet.

    The Eagleman Stag is really phenomenal, both thematically and technically. I was also quite taken by “Fresh Guacamole”.

    I did see Paperman and think it’s also a really lovely film but my heart goes out to the more personal, hand-made animated projects.

    I can’t really talk about the other films based on their trailers but they are certainly very interesting as well.

  3. on 19 Nov 2012 at 6:11 pm 3.John K said …

    The music for Paperman was composed by Christophe Beck, not Mark McAdam.


  4. on 19 Nov 2012 at 6:42 pm 4.Michael said …

    Thanks for correcting me on the score, John. I’ve reworked the post to properly include it. I’m not sure where I got Mark McAdam; I id a porr bit of research, obviously. I’m sorry.
    Good luck with the film, by the way. I feel confident you’ll get a nomination.

  5. on 19 Nov 2012 at 11:29 pm 5.the Gee said …

    About Paperman….

    I haven’t seen anything more than clips from it and the BTS pieces.

    And, I don’t know if reading this will come across a serious or jokey, but,
    the way they did it, the process used, was about pushing the envelope, right?

    Personally, I’m curious if there are any plans to do something radically different from Paperman using the process. Different look, maybe flat out humorous. A dang New Yorker cartoon anyone can understand or more cartoony that allows to further maximize the possibility.

  6. on 20 Nov 2012 at 1:08 pm 6.slowtiger said …

    Just met Michaela Pavlátová last week at Interfilm festival in Berlin, and saw Tram. It’s a nice little film, but will never receive an Oscar because it shows penises. We need more animated films about sex!

  7. on 05 Feb 2013 at 6:51 am 7.Helen Stevens said …


    The National Film & TV School is based in England, not Ireland. (Tim Reckart was one of my students 2010 – 2012) –,

  8. on 05 Feb 2013 at 8:33 am 8.Michael said …

    Thank you for the information.

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