Relatable Togetherness Highlight 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

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CHICAGO – The relationships in our lives affect who we are, whether they are momentary or long term. Interestingly, like the Oscar nominated Live Action shorts, the Animated Short Film nominees have that similar connective themes in four of the five stories. Family relationships, son-to-mother, mother-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and parents-to-child, are explored in poignant and expressive ways. The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

One of the nominees, “Animal Behavior” (Canada), is not so much about relationships, but is a comic overview of the law of nature in the context of a psychotherapy group session. The other nominees – “Bao” (USA), “Late Afternoon” (Ireland), “One Small Step” (USA/China) and “Weekends” (USA) – are about our relationships, and the influential nature of them. The trend of animation is to communicate different subjects in this flexible and reverential art form, a far cry from Bugs Bunny in a dress.

’Bao,’ Directed by Domee Shi
Photo credit: Shorts TV

“Bao” is from Walt Disney’s Pixar Studios, their second year in a row so honored (after 2017’s “Lou”). Although the story of a Chinese mother and her magical son is beautiful, emotional and humorous, it seems that giving the big studios yet another nod prevents new voices from breaking through. “Late Afternoon” deals with caregiving and dementia, “One Small Step” is a girl’s ambition encouraged by her single father and “Weekends” is memories of a son negotiating his divorced parents.

“Late Afternoon” was the one that got me the most, as a dementia patient is almost haunted by her skipping-record memories … from childhood to courtship to parenthood, the remembrances are sadly vague for the woman, until they are not. Animation was the perfect art form to show the swirling images of memory, and the short work comes to an appropriate and emotional conclusion.

“Weekends” has a despondent edge to it, but it also is exposed through the reminiscences of a boy being shuffled from parent to parent, and his observations of those fellow travelers who happen to be Mom and Dad. It leaves a mark. And “One Small Step,” while again scoring emotionally, still explores an overall message that has been done over and over, both in feature and short narrative.

’Late Afternoon,’ Directed by Louise Bagnall
Photo credit: Shorts TV

Take the opportunity to see these shorts if they’re available in your area (especially Chicagoans), or watch them once they become available for digital download (Tuesday, February 19th, click link below). It will make your Oscar viewing that much more fun (as you express opinions when the obscure category come up), and in these nominees provide reflective insight to our family encounters.

The 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts – Animated are currently playing in Chicago at Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark Street. See local listings for other show times and theaters. Nominated Live Action Shorts are also being shown in a separate program, click here. Available through Video-on-Demand February 19th, 2019. Featuring the animated shorts “Bao” (directed by Domee Shi), “Late Afternoon” (Louise Bagnall), “Animal Behavior,” (Alison Snowden & David Fine), “One Small Step” (Andrew Chesworth & Bobby Pontillas) and “Weekends” (Trevor Jimenez). Not Rated. Click here for more information. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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