Combustible Celluloid
 

Animated Oscar-Nominated Shorts (2020)

Opera

A Short Stack

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

April 9, 2021—This year's nominees are a cut above, featuring an adorable new Pixar cartoon, as well as two others that are astonishing visual starbursts. Pixar's Burrow tells the story of a cute bunny looking to dig himself a nice, quiet home, but keeps accidentally popping out into other animals' burrows. Adrien Merigeau's Genius Loci, from France is one of my favorites, a phantasmagorical odyssey into a night filled with changing shapes and morphing colors; yet it has a human focus, and you can feel its pain and wonder. My favorite is Erick Oh's Opera, a co-production of South Korea and the USA. It's difficult to describe, but it unfolds in one shot, as it tilts down the length of a triangle-shaped civilization. Hundreds of miniature figures go about their day-to-day business, all around the frame. As the camera arrives at the bottom and starts back up again, the civilization's epic-in-miniature story starts to become clear. It's the kind of film you'll want to see many times, as there's something tiny going on in every sector of the frame at every given moment, and it's truly incredible. Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson's Yes-People, from Iceland, is a one-joke short, mildly amusing. The one I liked least, Will McCormack and Michael Govier's If Anything Happens I Love You is a rather shameless piece about a young girl who has died in a school shooting, and it's — of course — the front-runner to win at this point. See this program for the others. For info on where to stream the shorts, or see them in theaters, see here.

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