Film: Oscar Shorts filled with little gems


February 10th, 2012

Omaha, NE – When are shorts a good thing in the winter? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood have this review of “The 2012 Oscar-Nominated Shorts.”

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Ryan: Much like Rodney Dangerfield, timid substitute teachers, and people who hate Aretha Franklin, short films can’t get no respect.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is "part Buster Keaton and part Wizard of Oz."

Matt: For most of the year, the works of writers and directors who make short films are only seen by people lucky enough to attend festivals and the relatives of writers and directors who make short films.

Ryan: But when it’s time to fill out that Oscar ballot, it’s suddenly very important to know what obscure Canadian animated film has a good shot to win the category.

Matt: Especially if you’ve made a massive semi-legal wager on the Academy Awards and your kneecaps and mortgage hang in the balance.

Ryan: Even for those who aren’t degenerate gamblers, Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater will be screening the live-action and animated short films for the next few weeks, with a special engagement of the short documentaries mixed in.

Matt: And while we don’t have time here to go into massive detail about each of the nominees, we can highlight our favorites. In the Animated category, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which was written and directed by William Joyce and directed by Brandon Oldenburg is my pick. This whimsical tale is part Buster Keaton and part Wizard of Oz, as a man gets swept up into a world where books are literally alive. And while that may sound terrifying now that I think about it, the result is a gorgeous bit of computer animation that leaves the viewer with a goofy smile.

Ryan: My pick in that category is more predictable, as I picked Pixar.

Matt: That sound you didn’t hear was me not fainting with surprise.

Ryan: While it may seem like a safe bet, this is Pixar’s longest short, and it’s best. As a young boy and his father and grandfather clean the moon, the lad learns to make his own way in the world. That’s an awful lot to accomplish in just a few minutes. Written and directed by Enrico Casarosa and featuring a beautiful score by Michael Giacchino, this was a clear decisive winner in my book.

Matt: For the live-action, it’s hard to resist the sci-fi charm of Time Freak, written and directed by Andrew Bowler. The story is basically what would happen if George Costanza got his hands on a time machine. Filled with neurotic character beats and charmingly quirky comedy, this is what I love about shorter movies sometimes, as the concept would have bled dry at a longer running time but is just perfect in this size!

Ryan: My favorite was probably Time Freak as well, but I’ll tell you about the film I think will be taking home the statue of a naked gold dude, and that’s Raju. Written by Florian Kuhn and written/directed by Max Zahle, this tale of a German couple who attempt to skirt adoption laws when finding an Indian orphan to be their son is harrowing and emotionally dense. Tense panic is a hard thing to instill in a tiny time frame, and doing that while revealing true dissent within a marriage is shocking. It may not have been fun, but it was high quality filmmaking.

Matt: And there’s more where that came from. So if you have a chance, get down to Film Streams and enjoy a smorgasbord of shorties.

Ryan: It’s a unique experience that is a big return on small investment.

Editorial Note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at

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