Even though some were pegging Logorama as a possible upset over A Matter of Loaf and Death in this category prior to last year’s Oscar ceremony, I didn’t think the former’s crude hipster snark would resonate with voters as significantly as the humanist warmth of Nick Park’s most recent Wallace and Gromit adventure. That it did in the end may bode well for Let’s Pollute, a six-minute snarkfest about pollution so oversaturated with sarcasm it made me want to mix my cardboards and plastics out of sheer frustration, but will the young’ns who helped push Logorama to a win last year find real innovation to the ingratiating film’s surface-deep regurgitation of the style of ’50s educational films? Hopefully voters will embrace a film that doesn’t feel as if was made in order to be excerpted by Michael Moore.
For legit animated artistry behold Madagascar, a Journey Diary and The Lost Thing. The former is a reverie-like personal journey through the past and present of the main character’s titular homeland, conveyed using a number of different animation techniques, from CG to watercolors. It’s the most richly evocative nominee in the category, making breathtaking use of perspective throughout, though I wonder if the rationale for the various artistic modes director Bastien Dubois employs feels somewhat arbitrary. The Lost Thing, the story of a boy trying to find a welcoming place for a “lost thing” in an exceedingly gray, Orwellian world that brings to mind postwar England, is an eye-popper with a sturdier narrative foundation, but it’s also a philosophically vague and borderline naïve commentary on the relationship between the status quo and “the other”…and, um, how whites could probably stand to have a little bit more “color” in their daily lives?
Eric calls it “gay,” but Day & Night is still my favorite of the nominated shorts. Pixar’s film is a morally charged study in visual perspective that made more sense in 3D than the film it accompanied in theaters, Toy Story 3. But it’s going to take something a little less old-fashioned for Pixar to win again in this category anytime soon. In the end, we have to call this for The Gruffalo, an adorable fable about a small mouse’s unique cunning in trying to outwit a trio of hungry predators. It’s easy to see this one being a favorite with the children of every Academy member who’ll vote here, though adults shouldn’t have a problem connecting with a story about teaching children to be brave or appreciating the aesthetic mode—CG that looks like it could be stop motion—that recalls all things Maurice Sendak and Roald Dahl. Also, Helena Bonham Carter lends her voice to the project, so a vote for The Gruffalo is essentially a vote for The King’s Speech.
Will Win: The Gruffalo
Could Win: Madagascar, a Journey Diary
Should Win: Day & Night