Every year those who live near suitable art house theaters are gifted with a leg-up in Oscar pools: the films nominated for the animated and live-action short categories actually get screened for the public. (In some cities, including New York, they get the documentary ones, too.) It’s your chance to know a bunch of titles as more than anonymous names on a giant sheet of paper — and even to see some great cinema. Though not in all cases. Here’s our category-by-category breakdown:
Let’s cut to the chase: The title that should win this Oscar is “World of Tomorrow” (which you can also stream on Netflix). Filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt, who was nominated back in 2001 for the brilliant “Rejected,” draws in exaggerated stick figures, by hand, on actual paper, then animates them, old school. He’s increasingly integrated computers, as he did, to an extent, on his peerlessly insane Simpsons couch gag.
So too did it go with his latest, which finds a third-generation clone meeting her original, when she was a little girl. She’s too little, in fact, to grok the importance of her clone’s message: that life is short and fleeting, and not to be wasted on petty distractions. Along with its cold, gutting message — and its fount of darkly clever bits, like a brainless clone who grows old in public as part of a museum exhibit — there’s the look: harshly drawn characters against a riot of bold, beautiful colors. At 16 minutes it’s perfect, and perfectly balanced: equal parts depressing and hilarious.