Strange that the only time Pixar won here was the same year it lost—and tragically so—in the race for Animated Feature. Nine years later, it seems doubtful that Presto, which accompanied WALL-E throughout its theatrical run, will end what's slowly becoming a Susan Lucci-esque losing streak: The story of a bunny who takes vengeance on the magician who denies him a carrot, the short is adorably feisty but forgettable. If you spend much of the film wondering what Chuck Jones could have done with it, you'll likely balk at Oktapoid, in which two octopi struggle to escape from the clutches of a delivery man, for seeming too much like an audition on the part of its six directors for a job at, yes, Pixar. Like Presto, Oktapoid lacks for poignancy, but neither film is as flippant as This Way Up, the story of two glum undertakers whose attempt to bury an old woman is constantly and inexplicably thwarted by the world around them. If This Way Up trivializes death, Lavatory Lovestory cutely celebrates the possibility of love blossoming in unexpected places, but Konstantin Bronstin's memorable short doesn't hold a candle to the only other 2D short in the category, La Maison en Petits Cubes. The strange account of an old man who builds his house up toward the heavens as the water that drowns the world continues to rise, Kunito Kato's production initially cries out for context, until the old man loses his pipe and his attempt to retrieve it from the lower levels of his home literally opens the floodgates of memory. The Triplets of Belleville cult will go nuts for Kato's expressionistic drawings and his intuitive evocation of loss and loneliness.
Will Win: La Maison en Petits Cubes
Should Win: La Maison en Petits Cubes
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.