Ahead of the 2018 Oscars on Sunday, fans are scrambling to check out the Best Picture nominations so they'll be in the loop during the ceremony. And while there's nothing wrong with wanting to see the top films of the year, buzz-worthy movies tend to distract consumers from smaller (yet deserving) Oscar categories, like Best Animated Short, for example. Case in point: Not many people have seen Dear Basketball, an animated short by Kobe Bryant about his retirement from basketball. The good news is there's still plenty of time for you to see the film before Sunday. That being said, here's how to watch Dear Basketball.
When Bryant announced his retirement from basketball in November 2015 following a 20-year stint on the court, according to TIME, his loyal fans were devastated. Of course, the decision was hard on Bryant, too. But despite Bryant's mixed feelings about leaving his impressive career behind, he knew it was the right thing to do. "I've known for a while," Bryant said, shortly after the initial announcement, according to USA Today. "Finally I had to accept the fact that I don't want to do this anymore and I'm OK with that. Once I accepted that, it took a weight off my shoulders."
And Bryant commemorated his freeing retirement with a poem titled, "Dear Basketball." The first portion of the poem reads, according to The Players Tribune:
Dear Basketball, From the moment I started rolling my dad’s tube socks/And shooting imaginary Game-winning shots/In the Great Western Forum/I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you.
The poem resonated with many fans for a few reasons, but especially because of its strong emotional component and genuine tone.
But how did the poem become an animated short? As it turns out, Bryant was thinking about putting his words to film for a long time. In fact, Bryant even reached out to American composer and Oscar-winner John Williams in 2008 to see if he'd help out with the project's score, according to Deadline. Unfortunately for Bryant, Williams was working on Star Wars at the time. Still, Williams expressed interest in the short and he eventually joined the project a few years later. To make matters even better for Bryant, he was able to enlist Glen Keane, the director of the Little Mermaid and other Disney classics, to direct.
What the trio ultimately came up with is nothing short of incredible — in the span of five minutes, Bryant narrates his "Dear Basketball" poem over a hand-drawn animation depicting his life from childhood to adulthood. Bryant said of his process, according to Deadline:
I love storytelling and writing and producing, and working with other young talent to bring stories to life to either inform or inspire or challenge the next generation. I figured this project would let me create something that would let the next generation look at and process and interpret how they see fit.
Needless to say, the emotional and visually stunning short caught the eye of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
On Jan. 23, following Dear Basketball's nomination for Best Short, Bryant tweeted, according to MSN:
What?? This is beyond the realm of imagination. It means so much that the @TheAcademy deemed #DearBasketball worthy of contention. Thanks to the genius of @GlenKeanePrd & John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It's an honor to be on this team. #OscarNoms.
Exciting stuff, right? It's clear Bryant is so proud of this project.
Luckily for fans, Dear Basketball is available to watch online via Go90, a streaming website that was launched by Verizon Communications in 2015. All you have to do to see the film is click this link or if you would rather put a bit more effort into it, go to Go90.com and type in the search bar "Dear Basketball." And don't worry about signing up for something or giving away your email address — it's totally free to watch.
So, while you're trying to cram in all the big films of 2018 before the ceremony on Sunday, don't forget the little guys. Whether you're a fan or animated film or not, there's a good chance you won't want to miss Dear Basketball and the other nominated shorts on the list.
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