The Oscarnominated films you never see
Lake Worth theater giving you a chance to catch up on rarely screened shorts.
Giving out Academy Awards to the best short films has always felt like presenting National Book Awards to booklets. Yeah, it’s an outstanding achievement, but the honor seems disproportionate to the effort. Besides, the short film has become a modern rarity almost everywhere except as a prelude to Pixar features.
That said, there’s some enjoyable and impressive work in mini-movies this year. The Oscar prizes go to three categories: best animated short, live action, and documentary. Compilations for two of the divisions were screened for critics, and I mostly liked them. Even if you find some of the nominees so-so, just wait a few minutes and another one will be along.
The animated nominees, running a trim 83 minutes, include the only short with any popular recognition in the United States. If you saw Pixar’s “Cars 3,” you probably also saw its dialogue-free cartoon curtain-raiser, “Lou.” In photorealistic style, it’s a morality tale about JJ, a primary school playground bully. A pile of missing knickknacks in the outdoor Lost and Found box unite, transforming into a close cousin of the Muppets’ Oscar the Grouch that only JJ notices. He begins to see the favorite toys the other kids used to have, appreciate how special they made them feel and become more sympathetic.
Much deeper is “Dear Basketball,” a sort of autobiographical love letter to the sport written and narrated by Kobe Bryant. Drawn like graceful sketches in pencil and paper, it’s elegant work, sliding seamlessly from when Bryant was a 6-yearold through his adulthood, nicely scored by John Williams. They shot, they scored.
It’s impossible to say much about “Negative Space” without getting into spoiler territory, but it has a poignant message about fathers, sons and how much it can mean to pack a suitcase to leave home. Its attempt to emulate the effect of sketchy hand-drawn animation undercuts the emotional goal.
“Garden Party” is an eerie animal tale. It introduces us alongside toads and frogs, and through points