2013 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts: From Best to Not-Best

Walt Disney, PapermanEach year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from the greatest to the most head-scratching. Unlike last year, all five nominated animated shorts can be viewed online for free…as of today, at least. Links are provided for each, but may be subject to change without notice. Enjoy!

Paperman: You should’ve already seen this in front of Wreck-It Ralph. If you didn’t, it was unique in its use of Disney’s new CG/2-D hybrid system called Meander. The blend worked wondrously, and the meet-cute romance was sweet-hearted.

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Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” Has First Trailer Ever to be Made Entirely of Easter Eggs

This week saw the release of the first trailer for the next Walt Disney Animated Classic, Wreck-It Ralph, which promises to do for video game characters what Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did for cartoon characters — namely, see how many entertainment companies are willing to stuff theirs into the same clown car as their competitors’.

Casual gamers should obviously recognize King Bowser from the Super Mario Bros empire. Anyone who doesn’t know Clyde from Pac-Man won’t be using the Internet to see this trailer or watching movies made after 1980 anyway. I like to think I made it to level 3 by recognizing a King Malboro from Final Fantasy X-up.

After watching the trailer a second time, I suspect all the pieces and clues of this clever how-many-can-you-name trivia game have also been used to construct a sort of movie to connect the various stages of the game. The difficult part to perceiving this value-added extra is ignoring the game and paying attention to the dialogue instead. That’s harder than it sounds, considering this may be the first recorded instance of a modern game whose cutscene graphics are of equal quality to the in-game graphics. (Sorry, Agni’s Philosophy — you were so close. If only graphics processor technology had progressed at a more supernatural rate for your sake.)

The Wreck-It Ralph Theatrical Trivia Game stars Academy Award Nominee John C. Reilly (Chicago, Step Brothers), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Jane Lynch (Glee), Brandon T. Jackson (cruelly underrated in Tropic Thunder), and hopefully hundreds of video game voice actors. If Steve Blum isn’t somewhere in this film, then there’s no point to its existence.

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