From the traditional Termite Terrace storytelling of a Road Runner cartoon to abstract images scored by two Canadian musicians, a tremendously eclectic range of short films has been shortlisted for next year's 83rd Academy Awards.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said this week that 33 qualified candidates had been culled to 10 shorts; members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch will whittle this list to three to five films prior to Jan. 25, when all the Oscar nominations will be announced.
At this stage, the short list is eye-catching partly because of the sheer span of styles and narratives -- from Warner Bros.'s slick CGI for the Wile E. Coyote adventure "Coyote Falls" to the nostalgic look of Pixar's "Day & Night" (which opened for "Toy Story 3" in theaters this year); from the hand-drawn look of the great Bill Plympton ("The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger") to the stop-motion of "The Gruffalo."
And then there's the high-art abstraction of Michel Gagné's "Sensology," which has no true story arc at all.
It's tough to bet against Pixar or the twice-nominated Plympton heading to the next stage, but all the top-10 films are worth checking out. Here are clips for nine of the nominated shorts:
"The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger":
"Day & Night":
"The Lost Thing":
"Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage":
"The Silence Beneath the Bark":
Here is the full list of the 10 nominees (in alphabetical order):
1. "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger," Bill Plympton, director (Bill Plympton Studio)
2. "Coyote Falls," Matthew O'Callaghan, director and Sam Register, executive producer (Warner Bros. Animation Inc.)
3. "Day & Night," Teddy Newton, director (Pixar Animation Studios)
4. "The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang, directors (Magic Light Pictures)
5. "Let's Pollute," Geefwee Boedoe, story-design-animation (Geefwee Boedoe)
6. "The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, directors (Passion Pictures Australia)
7. "Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)," Bastien Dubois, director (Sacrebleu Productions)
8. "Sensology," Michel Gagne, director-producer (GAGNE International LLC)
9. "The Silence beneath the Bark," Joanna Lurie, director (Lardux Films)
10. "Urs," Moritz Mayerhofer, director (Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg)