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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 01/ 7/2010

Awards season: The Best Animated Shorts of 2009

By Michael Cavna

As Comic Riffs prepares to attend D.C.'s first-ever Gigacon media arts & animation convention today, we'll continue the animation theme this week...

While 2009 drew attention for being a banner year in feature-film animation, it was a fairly strong year for animated shorts, too. The Academy Awards have already announced the 10 shorts that are in the running for Oscar, and with many of them viewable online, let's take a closer look.


The ideal companion short before, say, a showing of Pixar's "Ratatouille," "French Roast" -- by director Fabrice O. Joubert (Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films) -- serves up a wonderfully realized world.


The immensely stylish "The Cat Piano" centers on "a city of singing cats" and "a shadowy figure intent on performing a twisted feline symphony" -- and features Nick Cave narrating a poem by Eddie White, who co-directed with Ari Gibson. Australian in flavor, from The People's Republic of Animation, this "Cat" has the artsy pedigree to be one of Oscar's favorites.


Positively crackling with satire,"Granny O'Grimm" -- directed by Nicky Phelan for Brown Bag Films (and written/voiced by Kathleen O'Rourke) -- is one of my personal favorites from '09. Still funny even after repeated viewings.


Surely the most known (and most viewed) of the shortlisted Oscar shorts, Pixar's "Partly Cloudy" (directed by Peter Sohn) was the opening film for the studio's hit "Up." As one colleague said, this short seems utterly in keeping with Pixar's sensibility. On those merits alone, likely to be a favorite to win the Oscar.


Then there are those Oscar-nominated shorts we haven't caught up to yet. Based on our love of Aardman films, we're especially eager to see the latest Wallace and Gromit:

"Wallace and Gromit's "A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH" (trailer):

Up to their usual high jinks, this Wallace & Gromit looks winning -- even if it does feature the now-unfortunate line: "I'VE GOT A BOMB IN ME PANTS!!!"


Love the look of this short by director Tomek Bagiński (produced by Platige Image), about an inventor obsessively, single-mindedly chasing his dreams.


Subtitled "La Dama y la Muerte," and we have high hopes on this, from Kandor Graphics and Green Moon.

"RUNAWAY (Teaser)":

Cordell Barker ("The Cat Came Back" and "Strange Invaders") gives us this tale of on-the-train foreboding. Bonus: music by Ben Charest, who also did the superb "Triplets of Belleville."

Still must also catch up to: "LOGORAMA," from Autour de Minuit and produced by Nicolas Schmerkin and "VARIETE," Roelof van den Bergh, director (il Luster Productions)


Then there are a couple of shorts -- one slick, the other perfectly, technically crude -- that are simply personal favorites for '09:


For director/co-writer Lucas Martell, this was a five-year project about a rookie secret agent -- and set in Washington, D.C., in the shadow of the Monument. (You can go back and follow his multi-year saga on YouTube, via his interstitial tutorials.)


In celebration of "a man on a psychedelic journey," No Mas and artist James Blagden animated the true story of Pirates pitcher Doc Ellis' legendary "LSD no-hitter."

Radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel recorded an interview with Ellis in which the former Buc gave "a moment by moment account of June 12, 1970, the day he no-hit the San Diego Padres." The funkadelic feel of the short -- so evocative of the '70s -- is just right. Favorite line: "They knew I was high but they didn't know what I was high on."

By Michael Cavna  | January 7, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation  
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Next: Remembering 'GUMBY' creator Art Clokey


That Doc Ellis piece is amazing. Thanks for including it in the roundup even if it is "technically crude". :)

Posted by: RKaufman13 | January 8, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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