Kobe Bryant’s love letter to the sport that made him famous, “Dear Basketball” is tender, touching and manages to give you a real sense of what pushed the athlete to hit such heights, while also suggesting that a part of him died the moment he retired. The combination of Bryant’s insight, his delivery, director Glen Keane’s nostalgic animation, and John Williams’ understated but powerful score makes “Dear Basketball” a must for any sports fan. It is also the short film I expect to win the gong, too.
[Image: Gunpowder & Sky]
The story of a group of frogs taking over a seemingly abandoned mansion, it might take a little while for the concept of "Garden Party" to become apparent, but you’re still immediately hooked because of its truly stunning animation. In fact, it looks so startlingly real you are literally taken aback and will probably fall to your knees in appreciation of its beauty. Or just, you know, clap instead. As the film progresses its dark humor starts to creep in, which makes “Garden Party” all the more arresting, especially as it culminates in a deliciously grotesque fashion.
“Lou” is a Pixar short film. So immediately you know that it is good. But that doesn’t even begin to half explain the brilliance of “Lou,” which revolves around an unseen monster lurking within a lost and found toy box. As per usual for Pixar, the plotting is as tight and immediately enthralling as a Beatles hook. But it is also so inventive and festers with such an emotional core and potent message that it might just be one of if not the studio’s best short film yet.
While the other short films only clock in at between 5 and 7 minutes long, “Revolting Rhymes” has the comparatively gargantuan length of 28 minutes. The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, which weaves together the fairy tales for Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White, is still a wonderful fable, though, as it mixes the macabre with the playful to create something that’s both haunting and beautiful, and, if you're a kid, probably traumatizing, too.
While still obviously impressive and riveting, “Negative Space” made the smallest impression on me of all the five films. The poignant stop-motion film is about a father and son bonding over their ritual of packing a suitcase for the elder's regular business trips, and it has proven to be a hit nominee, winning 52 awards from 137 nominations. But, for me, it was a little too one note and obvious, while its final punchline didn’t quite land, too. It was still so majestic it nearly provoked an impromptu yelp of, 'Bravo,' from me comes its conclusion, though, which just goes to show how strong the field is.
[Image: Ikki Films]
You probably assumed that you’d never get to see Pixar and Kobe Bryant going up against each other in any kind of competition. But that’s exactly what’s going to go down at the start of March.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the plot for a “Space Jam” and “Toy Story” crossover that pits the Los Angeles Lakers legend against Woody, Buzz, et al.
Instead, we have the equally bizarre scenario of the studio and the Basketball icon both being in the race for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
While we’ve long become accustomed to Pixar not only claiming their obligatory nomination in this category, but also picking up the gong at the end of the night, too, Kobe Bryant is very much a newcomer to the Best Animated Short Film field. He's been kind of busy on the court.
That doesn’t mean that his film “Dear Basketball,” which was directed by Disney animator Glen Keane but was written and narrated by Bryant, should be taken lightly at all. Especially as the film picked up the Best Animated Short Subject at the Annie Awards earlier this year.
It will be quite the coup if “Dear Basketball” can pick up the prize, though. Because this year’s field in the Best Animated Short Film category is preposterously strong.
As well as “Dear Basketball” and Pixar’s latest addition to its short film oeuvre, which is right up there with one of their very best, too, there is also “Revolting Rhymes,” an adaptation of a classic Roald Dahl book that was released on the BBC and verges very close to a feature length running time.
Meanwhile the first of the French entries “Garden Party” is so utterly gorgeous to watch unfold, and becomes wonderfully morbid, that it is little surprise it has been selected for over 180 festivals, and even its national counterpart “Negative Space” would be a worthy winner, too.
I’d even go as far as to say that each of these films are just as good, maybe even better, than their feature length counterparts. Just much, much shorter. Which only adds to their appeal.
Audiences can now watch each of these films, as well as the 5 Live Action efforts, too, in one sitting, as the 2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films have just been released into cinemas nationwide.
If you want to know more about them, you can check out my thoughts on each of the Best Animated Short Films by clicking through the gallery above.