The 88th annual Academy Awards are fast approaching, and movie buffs are eager to familiarize themselves with all the nominees. Oftentimes, theaters will screen Oscar-nominated films in the months leading up to the awards show, but that doesn't cover all the nominees. What's a fan to do if they want to watch the Oscar-nominated animated shorts? Where does one even see those?
According to The Verge, ShortsHD, a movie channel dedicated exclusively to short films, packages all the Academy Award-nominated short films together and makes them available both in theaters and through On Demand and Pay Per View platforms. Fans can search the map on ShortsHD's website to find a theater near them showing the animated, documentary, or live-action films. I did a couple quick searches and found a few theaters in my native Massachusetts that are showing the films. People living in more rural areas needn't worry; I checked Alabama and Montana for good measure, and they've got it covered (expect a bit of a drive, though).
And, for those who would rather stay in and pop their own popcorn, starting on Feb. 23, fans can stream the animated shorts via iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo, Amazon, Verizon FiOS, Comcast, or Frontier Communications. So what exactly are these movies?
Chilean director Gabriel Osorio uses 3D animation to tell the heart-wrenching tale of a circus bear torn away from his family in Bear Story. Osorio told The Wrap that the film was inspired by his grandfather, who was exiled to England during the Pinochet regime in the 1970s. "I knew that I had a grandfather, but I didn’t meet him when I was a kid."
Comprised of over 6,000 drawings, Prologue is a labor of love for director Richard Williams, best known as the creator of Roger Rabbit. Williams came up with the idea for Prologue when he was just 15 years old. In the film, set 2,400 years ago, a little girl witnesses a battle during the Spartan-Athenian wars, according to Animation Magazine. It's basically like A-ha's "Take On Me" video, only with a lot less synth and a lot more death.
'Sanjay's Super Team'
If you caught The Good Dinosaur in theaters, you may have already seen Sanjay's Super Team, which played before the full-length movie. Directed by Sanjay Patel, it tells the "mostly true" story of a Westernized little boy who'd rather watch cartoons than pray with his Hindu father. Imagining Hindu gods as superheros while mediating with Dad, Sanjay finds a way to bridge the gap between the two cultures.
'We Can't Live Without Cosmos'
Fans with elevated hormones should avoid this one, because it's another tearjerker (although there are quite a few laughs). Konstantin Bronzit’s We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is about two cosmonauts who've been close since birth. While The New Yorker refers to them as "best friends," I feel like there's something more going on there, not that a film funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation would dare admit to it. At any rate, the pair clearly love each other, but they're separated when one is sent to space and the other is left behind to watch. I won't spoil anything, but just know that Bronzit told The New Yorker that the film is only "partly about friendship,” and that, really, “[i]t’s about loneliness." The full film is embedded in The New Yorker article.
'World of Tomorrow'
World of Tomorrow is what would happen if a crudely-drawn goth comic book from Hot Topic fell into the hands of a madman with access to digital animation software. Director Don Hertzfeldt gives us the only animated short with dialog on this list, and boy, is it some weird dialog. The film stars Emily Prime, a 4-year-old girl played by Hertzfeldt's niece, and her clone, also called Emily, who calls her from 227 years in the future. Clone Emily describes the hellscape she lives in, where memories are copied and pasted from old brains to new, according to The Atlantic, and nobody has any feelings anymore. The film is available to rent or buy on Vimeo, which also features two trailers that might explain things better than I could. Might. Also, be sure to check out Hertzfeldt's "companion piece," a two-minute-long couch gag he guest directed for a 2014 episode of The Simpsons.