I finally got to view the live action and animated shorts up for awards this year but I have to tell you up front that I am a terrible indicator of how those awards will go.¬† Even still, I look at them, like anyone would, and I like what I like, like any voter would. Do I sound defensive? Seriously, though, the ones I love never win. At any rate, I dug back through the posts at InContention to find out what Kris Tapley had to say about them now that I’ve seen them and I agree absolutely with him that it’s between Toyland and The Pig. Both are good and it’s impossible to choose.
Toyland is a moving account of a little German kid who thinks his friend is going to “Toyland” and wants to follow him there. His friend is Jewish and for that reason alone is taken off to the camps. The German boy isn’t. It’s a simple story, moving, though it doesn’t say anything particularly new. It is extremely well made. It reminds of how much we’ve become familiar with the accepted images of the Holocaust. The stark white and grey backgrounds, the Nazi uniforms, the cargo trains, the smoke stacks, the Jewish stars. It still manages to provoke us in all sorts of ways because it wasn’t that long ago. And also because it has every element to bring emotion immediately to mind.
It has some tough competition in The Pig, however. This is a wonderful story about a man brought into the hospital who finds relief in an amusing painting of a pig jumping off the dock of a pier and freefalling into what appears to be the abyss. The old man is dazzled and comforted by the painting. Meanwhile, there is another man in dire straights in the bed next to him. He’s surrounded by his loved ones. They find the painting offensive and have it taken down. The old man is horrified and demands it be brought back. To say more would really spoil it. The bottom line is that it’s a tough call choosing between these two. I guess you have think about which is more generally liked, or whether the Academy voters will be feeling a tad defensive about the whole Holocaust thing (they only vote for movies about the Holocaust), in which case, The Pig gets it. Otherwise, tradition would dictate that Toyland gets it all the way. Gut to my head it would be The Pig.
As far as the animated ones go, I really liked This Way Up. It’s up against Pixar’s Presto and no one wants to bet against Pixar.¬† But This Way Up is wonderfully surprising.¬† It’s about two undertakers who must take care to deliver an old womans body to her grave.¬†¬† But it becomes so much more than that. It was the one, other than Presto, that I felt the most engaged it. I have to give them all a second look before I can really say for sure. But I think it’s between This Way Up and Presto — though you can’t really take my word for it.