2020 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

 In Documentary, Everything, Good


I came out of the Animated Shorts feeling defeated and depressed. Thank goodness for the wacky Hors Piste—a bonus feature, and the very brief Maestro. All of the shorts this year are about death or loss, mostly directly, sometimes tangentially.

Also, these reviews aren’t necessarily going to be three sentences each.

Hair Love (7 minutes)

A girl wants to make her hair look nice, but despite online tutorial vidoes, is too young to have the skills. Her father is nervous, but willing to try. Very sweet and funny, this is the feel-good short.

The verdict: Good

Watch “Hair Love” on YouTube here.

Dcera (Daughter) (15 minutes)

Stop motion animation with papier-mâché figures that focuses on a father and daughter relationship. Aside from being depressing, the animation of the eyeballs weirded me out. This was a very long fifteen minutes.

The verdict: Skip

Pay to watch “Dcera” here.

Sister (8 minutes)

Felted dolls tell this story about a man’s childhood memories of his sister. In places, the animation was weird in a good way and this story hit me hard. This was my favorite.

The verdict: Recommended

Website information here.

Kitbull (9 minutes)

This is Pixar-adjacent, the story of a feral kitten who makes a new friend. I was all in for the antics of the black feral kitten (my home includes a formerly feral, now-grown kitten who jumped around just like this one) but another animal was in danger in a way that made me angry and after that I was having none of this short.

The verdict: Skip

Watch “Kitbull” on YouTube here.

Memorable (12 minutes)

Another stop-motion animated entry, this was the most artsy of the bunch. In it, a painter and his wife experience changes. It illustrated a depressing topic in beautiful color and motion.

The verdict: Skip

“Memorable” is not available to watch.

Shorts TV, the organization who distributes the Oscar-Nominated films to theaters, probably couldn’t justify sending out a 51-minute program. So there was some padding added. And thank goodness, because the last two shorts managed to turn around the depressing topics.

Henrietta Bulkowski (16 minutes)

Another stop-motion entry, this is the story of a woman with kyphosis (when the spine curves and gives a hunchback) who wants to be a pilot. I enjoyed how fantastically weird this film was.

The verdict: Good

Website is here.

The Bird and the Whale (6 minutes)

This was gorgeous. It’s 4,300 paintings on glass paired with an original score by Chris McLoughlin. But when you have a bird in a cage as the sole survivor of a shipwreck, you’ve got an animal in peril and that’s a no-go for me.

The verdict: Skip

Website is here.

Hors Piste (5 minutes)

God bless Hors Piste for its tale of mountain rescue workers whose mission doesn’t go as planned. The CGI brings a funny veneer to the story and the poor fellow being rescued has increasingly amusing expressions.

The verdict: Recommended

Trailer is here.

Maestro (2 minutes)

This is two minutes of a squirrel directing a cast of forest animals in a bit of opera. There’s nothing not to like here.

The verdict: Recommended

Watch “Maestro” on Vimeo here.

Cost: $9.75
Where watched: Living Room Theaters

My ranking: (winner in bold)

  • Sister
  • Hors Piste
  • Hair Love
  • Henrietta Bulkowski
  • Maestro
  • Memorable
  • The rest are just: No!
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