Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Animated Shorts finalists give me a firm rooting interest...

Normally, when the Academy announces its shortlist of Animated Short contenders, a handful of them can already be found online. This year, the only readily available one is Duet, by legendary Disney character animator Glen Keane. And I can tell you right now that I'm rooting for him all the way.

Not that I necessarily think his elegantly simple 3-and-a-half minute short will be the best (some of his competition looks equally impressive), but the simple fact that it's Keane -- the man who breathed palpable life into Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel -- who would be credited with the Oscar is enough for me to throw all my cheering power behind it.

One thing that kind of rankles me every year when the award for Best Animated Feature is handed out, is the thought that the only people involved with the glorious Disney renaissance of the 1990s who have received any Oscar love are its musical composers; Usually a combination Alan Menken and whoever his collaborating lyricist happened to be on a given project. Not that they didn't deserve all those trophies, but the real workhorses who spent years at a time crafting those much beloved modern classics have never truly gotten their moment in the spotlight.

The category was inaugurated just a few years too late. Of course, you could make the argument that were it not for the massive success of those game-changing animated musicals, apexing at the birth of the soon-to-be animation juggernaut Pixar, we wouldn't have a category for feature animation in the first place. But it's still ever-so-slightly irritating to see directors of lesser works (Gore Verbinski, George Miller) walking away with Academy Awards in hand, while the likes of John Musker, Ron Clements, Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Don Hahn, and indeed, Glen Keane have never had a taste of such glory.

Some have had their chances, though. Clements and Musker have been nominated a couple of times, but for films that will never eclipse the shadows of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Hahn and Allers may have come closest with their heart-rending short The Little Matchgirl in 2007, but ultimately fell victim to a voting bias against studio nominees at the time (it probably would have won under the current system).

As for Keane's entry, it's brevity and narrative simplicity (both fine virtues, if you ask me) will probably keep it from competing for the win. But hey, I can hope!

Check out the full shortlist after the cut.

Daisy Jacobs, Christopher Hees -- The Bigger Picture
Alan Holly -- Coda
Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi -- The Dam Keeper
Glen Keane -- Duet
Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed -- Feast
Bill Plympton -- Footprints
Torill Kove -- Me and My Moulton
William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg -- The Numberlys
Joris Oprins -- A Single Life
Réka Bucsi -- Symphony No. 42

1 comment:

  1. No Pixar for Lava? That's surprising.

    I am pretty shocked that the mainstays of the Disney renaissance don't have like eighty Oscars by now. Agreed that animated film Oscar came way too late and should have very easily been applied around the time of Lion King at least. I mean, Lion King was the highest grossing animated film for the longest time, and only after Chicken Run or Shrek did they finally decide to have an individual category? Geez.

    But regardless, yeah I am rooting for Glen Keane, but I am also kinda rooting for Feast, which will play in front of Big Hero 6, because it looks really nice (that is granted if it's even half decent).