Even when Pixar isn’t nominated in this category, its presence is still felt. Case in point: Samuel Tourneux’s dumn CGI lark Even Pigeons Go to Heaven. Distended with all the cute twists—if none of the actual cuteness—you get with every Pixar aperitif, this inexplicably titled short (read: I don’t care what it means), about representatives from domains high and low jockeying for an old man’s body, reduces death and spiritual ascension to an unfunny joke. Also out, I think, is I Met the Walrus, a beautiful but cold mix of computer and ink illustration: Director Josh Raskin uses a 1969 interview between a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic and a snotty John Lennon as a jumping-off point for a study of how Lennon’s counter-culture ideology still resonates today (note the hip Dubya reference), but its significance is cruelly buried beneath aggressively brainy, literal-minded sound-to-image correlations (SNL fans may find themselves recalling Chris Kattan and Chris Parnell’s DeMarco brothers throughout). More memorable, Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman’s Peter and the Wolf is less educational than, say, the famous Disney version, and though the stop-motion animation is stunning, the short curves toward the dull side, dispassionately engaged with the theme of entrapment that marks Sergei Prokofiev’s famous story. Voters will, no question, be impressed by the short’s obviously time-consuming construction, though Peter and the Wolf may also come out on top if the two remaining films, the category’s only near-masterpieces, split votes. The first treasure, Madame Tutli-Putli, is a triumph of life-like stop-motion animation, about a woman who boards a train for destinations unknown and who’s haunted by ghosts, or nightmares, or the stirrings of her perverse and lonely imagination. A work of singular intuitive beauty and emotional expressiveness, Madame Tutli-Putli is a startling inland empire, but it ends on a vague note that may off-putt the same people bothered by the finale of No Country for Old Men. Equally stirring is Aleksandr Petrov’s My Love, whose Monet-like impressionism and literate and magical surrealist gestures swooningly, naughtily, and hauntingly rush audiences through a teenager’s passions and torments. Each and every flutter, hiccup, and dissolve in the animation is cannily keyed to the boy’s emotion but also to the tropes, sensations, and ethos of 19th-century Russian society. Seen together, all of these shorts illustrate the diversity of expression that exists within the field of animation, but if Petrov, a previous winner in this category, reigns supreme, it will be because My Love’s entirely hand-drawn and euphoric animation stands most apart from the competition, evocative of styles and feelings old and new.
Will Win: My Love
Should Win: Madame Tutli-Putli or My Love
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.