A look at the commended animated shorts for 2015.

by Martin Hafer

Each year during the last decade or so, a select number of movie theaters across America have hosted special showings of the various short films nominated for Oscars.  The Best Animated Shorts show is always a bit different, as these nominees tend to be shorter in length than the other categories (Live Action and Documentary Shorts).  Because of this, following the presentation of the Oscar-nominees, a set of commended films are shown.  The commended ones were nearly good enough to receive the Oscar nomination–and sometimes I have actually enjoyed many of these more than the nominees themselves. In this article we’ll take a look at the commended shorts of 2015.

Sweet Cocoon: Grade: B

Sweet Cocoon is a cute little film that has five directors listed–Matéo Bernard, Mathias Bruget, Jonathan Duret, Manon Marco and Quentin Puiraveau. It’s also very slight and a film that most people should enjoy, thanks to being light-hearted and funny. It’s told without words and is the story of a caterpillar that is trying to crawl inside its chrysalis but finds it’s just too fat for such a small space. So, a couple nice bugs decide to help and much of the film consists of their silly efforts. The ending is dark but made me chuckle. My friend who saw the film with me thought this was predictable–I thought it was clever and funny. The quality of the CGI is decent enough but there’s also nothing particularly ground-breaking or transcendent about it. It’s just a nice, well made little film.

Footprints: Grade: C-

Footprints is an odd little film by Bill Plympton. I’m a huge fan of this wonderful artist and have seen most of his shorts. This is why I found it odd that Footprints was chosen for the program, as it’s among the poorest of his films I have seen, mostly because the animation seems more rushed and lacks the care that we’d seen in his best works–such as the Guard Dog/Guide Dog/Hot Dog series or my personal favorite, One of Those Days. The story was also somewhat lacking. It’s a bad movie per se, but Plympton has simply done so much better.

Duet: Grade: B-

Duet is by Glen Keane. While this is Keane’s first job directing, he has worked on many great Disney films, such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Tangled as well as one of my favorite Disney World attractions, Philharmagic. According to my daughter, Keane is ‘a legend’! His film is lovely but very unconventional. It has no dialog and is very, very artistically done. However, it’s a style of film that I doubt would appeal to everyone. It tells the story of the lives of a little girl and a little boy as they grow but instead of the usual manner of telling the tale, it is like visual poetry. A truly memorable job.

Bus Story: Grade: B+

Bus Story is my favorite of the commended films. I’ll be honest, the art style is very crude and looks rather poor compared to all the other films shown at this special presentation. But, it manages to be entertaining and clever. I really enjoyed it though my daughter thought I was crazy because she didn’t enjoy it very much. My best friend also wasn’t so taken by this one as much as I was. I guess I just enjoyed the quirky style of the movie as it told a likable story about a person who always wanted to be a school bus driver…and learns it’s not quite as much fun as she’d assumed it would be.

As I said in my other article for the Oscar nominees of 2015, which can be read here, I’d love to hear from you. Which films did you particularly enjoy? Which do you think will win the Oscar and which of these films do you disagree with me on?