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Friday, 31 January 2014 11:56

'Oscar Shorts' range wide within animation and live action + Video

"Get a Horse" "Get a Horse"
Written by Martha K. Baker
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The topics range from up-dated cartoons to feral creatures to a family late for a wedding. They come from, among many places, France and Finland and Disneyland, and they run from 6 minutes to a half-hour, in faded black and white to bubbling color.

Some are sweet, calling out a smile throughout, while some are oddball and impenetrable. Some are animated, some live action, and some are for kids, some for very grown-ups. These are the short films nominated for the awards, known as Oscars, given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The best of the live action nominees are:
"Helium," a Danish film directed by Anders Walter, looks tenderly at a dying boy and the janitor who helps him go, aided by a red balloon. The ending is especially poignant.

"Do I Have To Take Care of Everything" presents a Finnish family wherein the mother seems to have to do everything, but whose fault is that? the funny little film asks.

"Just Before Losing Everything" comes from France. This family -- mother, son and daughter -- has to get out of town quickly to escape a vicious father. The film, directed by Xavier Legrand, is tense throughout.

"That Wasn't Me," sad and triumphant, is about a Spanish woman and an African child, connected by a gun.

"The Voorman Problem," directed by Mark Gill, stars Martin Freeman as a psychiatrist and Tom Hollander as a madman who thinks he's god. Only one is smiling. No surprises but good acting, very good acting.

The best of the animated nominees are:
"Get a Horse!" updates a classic Disney cartoon so that the black and white blooms into color under Lauren MacMullan's direction. Six minutes of utter delight.

The Japanese offering, "Possessions," is set in the 18th century on a stormy night and teaches a lesson about Possessions, such as umbrellas, that well serve the owners. The details on cloth and walls and in drawers are exquisite.

"Room on a Broom" is based on the book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The moral of the little tale encourages friendship and accommodation. The short, directed by Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, includes the voices of Rob Bryden, Martin Clunes and Gillian Anderson with Simon Pegg as Narrator.

How the Academy picks the winners is the question, given how very excellent each short film is. 

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