Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Animated Events: 2023 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts at the DFT

Well, I made it to Detroit to see the animated short films that were nominated for the 2023 Academy Awards. And while I don't follow the Oscars, per se, I do have some friends that are voting members of the Academy--and watching the shorts program at the DIA's Detroit Film Theater is a fun experience, so off to the Motor City I went.

I spent a couple hours drifting around the DIA, mostly looking at paintings and sculptures up in the third floor -- the Dutch Masters galleries. Then had a brief, yet pleasant talk with one of the docents about 'Veiled Lady', a marble sculpture by Giovanni Maria Benzoni from back in 1872. A quick lunch later, and I checked out the Impressionists gallery to see that the four van Gogh paintings owned by the DIA were back in their home again.

After which, it was time to see the films!

An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It.
This is the story of a salesman working in a call center who has an existential crisis. It's a clever concept with competent execution. I don't think that they broke any new ground with the story or animation here but it was an entertaining film with good production values. 

For the time being, you can watch this film on the Troy | Movies | Videos YouTube channel at this hyperlink.

The Flying Sailor
Always good to see the National Film Board of Canada with a film in competition. And when the film is directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, you know that it's going to be entertaining. This one was the story of a Canadian sailor who was caught in an explosion when two ships collide. It was a really trippy film that looked at the nature of existence but without becoming pretentious or drawn out for too long. If you've ever had a near-death experience (or thought you were having one), you'll relate to what transpires on the screen. Watch to the end because even when you think that it's over, this film sneaks in a really good endcap. 

For the time being, you can watch this film on the New Yorker's YouTube channel at this hyperlink.

Ice Merchants
Delightfully quirky with a good payoff. This film reminds me of the fun and quirky films that I would see at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. The story is all about a father and son who live on the side of a cliff, harvesting ice and selling it to the townspeople below. I was able to figure out the payoff at the ending about halfway into the film, but wow was it a fun ride to get there. This was my choice for the Oscar. Unfortunately, it lost out to 'Boy, Mole, Fox & Horse', but having seen all the contenders, you pretty much knew who the Academy members were going to cast their votes for. 

For the time being, you can watch this film on the New Yorker's YouTube channel at this hyperlink.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Gorgeous visuals and smooth animation. There was some clever dialog throughout the story of a boy learning life lessons from animals whilst finding his courage. A little too saccharine and simplistic for my tastes, but it was adapted from a children's book, so you know what to expect going in. It's worth seeing once and I'm sure that parents will enjoy watching this film with their children. Definitely stay seated through the ending credit sequence and pay attention. 

Last I knew, this film was only available to watch through the Apple+ streaming service.

My Year of Dicks
An interesting, entertaining story. Visuals were reminiscent of Joanna Priestley's Voices with some nods to Richard Linklater's Waking Life. The main problem with this film wasn't the story--a teenage girl who decides that she wants to lose her virginity and the hi-jinks that follow--no, it was that the music and sound effects drowned out the dialog, so there was a lot of nuance and character development that I ended up missing. It was a quirky film with some interesting notes and the final sequence was painfully funny and relatable to men and women alike. Honestly, I'd watch it again (though only if it came with subtitles). This short film is rated "R" for content, however, overall it was pretty tame. I don't recall any nudity or anything like that, just some foul language and its mature subject matter. The DFT and Shorts International did it right: before the film was announced, they gave time for parents to remove their children from the theater. I don't know where this film is available for viewing right now, but if you're into "coming of age" stories, this one is worth a look.

And to end this blog post with the obligatory foodie photo, I have to say: the DIA Cafeteria has a superior bowl of chicken soup!

* * *