Death becomes Oscar. Well, death and coffee.
In each Best Animated Short nominee for tonight's Academy Awards, either mortality or caffeine proves to be the fixation of many pixels. And in the case of France's "Logorama," both do.
Even in animation, the Academy is oft a sucker for two things: length and emotional depth. Which means that "Logorama" and the United Kingdom's "A Matter of Loaf and Death" can be tabbed as the favorites tonight in what's likely a tight race. And France's shorter, whimsical "French Roast" would seem the least likely candidate to win.
Here's a rundown of tonight's Animated Shorts nominees. (And here's a link to the official Web site for Oscars's shorts.)
Writer/director: Fabrice O. Joubert (France)
Run time: 8 minutes
The ideal companion short before, say, a showing of Pixar's "Ratatouille," "French Roast" serves up a wonderfully realized world. Were there an animated SUPER-short category, this would probably be our pick.
"GRANNY O'GRIMM'S SLEEPING BEAUTY":
Director: Nicky Phelan (Ireland)
Writer: Kathleen O'Rourke
Run time: 6 minutes
Positively crackling with satire,"Granny O'Grimm" -- 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.
"THE LADY AND THE REAPER":
Writer/director: Javier Recio Gracia (Spain)
Run time: 8 minutes
Subtitled "La Dama y la Muerte," this film -- co-produced by Antonio Banderas -- sits as the biggest dark-horse in this Oscars race.
Directors: H5 (François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy et Ludovic Houplain -- France)
Run time: 16 minutes
Featuring more than 2,500 logos, this clever film has shades of Mike Judge's heavy-signage satire in "Idiocracy" -- taken to the nth degree. If the Academy thinks Nick Park has nabbed enough Oscars already, then this is the film that should benefit tonight.
"A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH":
Director: Nick Park (United Kingdom)
Writers: Nick Park, Bob Baker
Run time: 30 minutes
The only person that multiple Oscar-winner Nick Park has ever lost to at the Academy Awards is ... himself. (He's won for "Creature Comforts," "The Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave" and "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.") Consider Wallace and Gromit the co-favorite tonight, along with "Logorama."
Do you have a prediction? As we contemplate cinematic death and double espressos, we're all ears.