Arts & Culture

Movie review: Oscar-nominated shorts, animated

The animated shorts program is particularly succinct:The most fleeting offering, A Single Life, clocks in at just over two minutes. That’s barely the length of a pop song.

But light on length doesn’t mean lightweight. A Single Life actually centers on a pop tune, playing on an old turntable, whose brevity and technological obsolescence serves as a metaphor for mortality. Similarly, the program’s most powerful film, The Bigger Picture, concerns two brothers – one dutiful, the other detached – who are coping with their mother’s impending demise.

Loosely inspired by the death of filmmaker Daisy Jacobs’s grandmother, The Bigger Picture is the most visually arresting of the five nominees. A blend of 2-D and 3-D animation – featuring a mix of life-size, David Hockney-esque wall paintings and stop-motion sculpture – The Bigger Picture looks like nothing you’ve seen before. Despite the filmmaker’s young age (26), The Bigger Picture is a strong contender for the Academy Award, even up against the excellent, equally autobiographical Me and My Moulton, by Torill Kove (who took home the Oscar in 2007 for her short The Danish Poet).

The program is rounded out by The Dam Keeper, a sweetly hand-drawn collaboration between Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi – studio veterans who worked on such major releases as Monsters University – and Feast, a so-so Disney production that accompanied the theatrical release of Big Hero 6.

Exclusive: Playing with live-action Oscar nominated shorts at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in separate programs. Also continues at the Landmark Magnolia, Dallas and Angelika Plano.

Oscar nominated shorts, animated

Unrated (some mature thematic material, but otherwise nothing offensive); 77 min.