2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation
"World of Tomorrow"

2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation

2016, NR, 86 min. Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 29, 2016

I’m not even going to attempt to hazard a guess as to which of these five short animated films from across the globe is going to nab the coveted golden statuette. Suffice it to say that with the inclusion of the Pixar-produced “Sanjay’s Super Team,” which follows the superhero-inflected imagination of a young Indian boy as he fantasizes his way around his devout Hindu father’s morning prayers, the Animated Shorts nominations are more racially inclusive than the disappointing #OscarsSoWhite main event. Directed by Sanjay Patel, this semi-autobiographical short (which screened in theatres before The Good Dinosaur) is kaleidoscopically spectacular, a riot of candy-colored hues and anime-influenced imagery as little Sanjay transposes himself into a world where the true superheroes are Krishna, Lakshmi, and Lord Hanuman.

“Bear Story,” the Chilean entry from director Gabriel Osorio, employs remarkably intricate stop-motion animation to tell the story of a lonely papa bear who crafts a miniature clockwork world of his life. The scenarios may be melancholy, but the animation is flawless and recalls the work of both the Brothers Quay and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

UK animator Richard Williams ups the ante with a chaotic whirlwind of life, death, and gladiatorial warriors in “Prologue.” The photorealistic, pen-and-ink animation style feels like a life drawing class in ancient Sparta, all muscles, brawn, and bloodshed, making this the only nominated animation unsuitable for younger viewers.

Despite its title, the Russian entry, Konstantin Bronzit’s “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos,” has nothing to do with either Neil deGrasse Tyson or Carl Sagan, although I suspect both would appreciate this humorous and high-flying take on a pair of cosmonauts who just … can’t … even … wait to soar beyond the stratosphere and into the final frontier. Cartoonishly done, the denouement is unexpectedly moving.

And then there’s Austinite Don Hertzfeldt’s nihilistically comic “World of Tomorrow,” a mixed-media mash-up of the animator’s favored theme of despair, Philip K. Dick-influenced dystopian paranoia, and Hertzfeldt’s then-4-year-old niece’s coos and babblings. Backgrounded by radiantly depressing CGI, Hertzfeldt’s stick-figure characters – a toddler visits the future with help from her thrice-cloned self – are as heartwarmingly miserable as ever. More, please.

A few non-nominated animated works are included on the bill to round out the program.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Various Films
2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary
Tales of love and hate dominate these Oscar hopefuls

Marc Savlov, Feb. 8, 2019

2019 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation
The Academy's five favorite animated shorts, plus two ringers

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Marc Savlov
Stuber
Buddy cop action-comedy isn’t making many friends

July 12, 2019

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
A rare journey behind the words of America's poet laureate

July 5, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation, Various

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle