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2018 Oscars : 6 Observations on this year’s Animated Short Film Race

Two weeks ago, AMPAS announced its Oscar nominations in all 24 categories and like every year, there were surprises and snubs.

The Animated Short Film race is one that’s rarely commented on – except when there are notable snubs or surprising inclusions. This year was no different – except that there was one big snub that had everyone truly puzzled.

Here are our six observations on this year’s nominations:

  1. The Shocking Snub

Earlier this summer, Esteban Bravo and Beth David released a 4-minute animated film online and the internet went wild. IN A HEARTBEAT quickly became a real audience favorite – especially that it’s one of the very first animated shorts to address gay themes in a very accessible, emotional and touching way. The film was widely expected to make the cut – with most Oscar watches believing it will actually win. The snub for the film is quite shocking and there is no one particular reason we can blame the snub on. Could it have been too out there for older voters? Was it too short (at 4 minutes) to register and make an impression?

  1. One Film Has Already Caused a Big Controversy

Glen Keane is one of the most respected animators in the industry and his new short DEAR BASKETBALL was widely expected to make the cut – and it did. But the problem is that its exec producer, writer and voice star Kobe Bryant is also nominated and if the film wins, he will share the Oscar with Keane. Bryant was involved in a rape case back in 2003, when he visited the Cordillera spa in Colorado and was charged with raping an employee. Charges were filed but the victim was smeared and positioned as mentally ill. They eventually settled. Since the petition was launched, it has garnered over 15,000 signatures (and counting).

  1. Pixar continues its strong record in this category

Written and directed by Dave Mullins, LOU was also widely expected to make the cut – not just because of its quality but because it’s the year’s most widely seen short. Pixar had attached it to the theatrical release of CARS 3 back in the summer and with this nomination, Pixar continues a very strong streak in this category (although they did have some few snubs in previous years in this category).

  1. South Africa gets a nomination

South African press was watching the nominations this year because their official FLF submission THE WOUND was in the FLF shortlist and was expected to make the cut. Instead, another South African film was nominated – but it was nominated here and it was a surprise inclusion. REVOLTING RHYMES was produced by South Africa’s Magic Light Pictures, a company less known on a global level but back at home they had produced 2 of the top 5 grossing South African features of all time. The film is a colorful adaptation of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake’s classic book of fairytales – and with this nomination, Magic Light has scored a historic nomination for the country’s emerging animation industry.

  1. A student project made the cut

A little French film that could, GARDEN PARTY, was nominated a week before the Oscars announcement at the Visual Effects Society Awards for Best Effects in a Student Project. Until then, the film was flying under the radar and some thought this guild nom could be a fluke or a random one. Yet it seems the film had registered with AMPAS voters and it made the cut on nominations day. Curiously, the film did not premiere at France’s Annecy Film Festival, its biggest animation festival, but it will be released online in April 2018 for all viewers to enjoy.

  1. Three Annie Awards winners led to Oscar nods

NEGATIVE SPACE, an animated short that premiered in Annecy but did not win there, surprised industry watchers and earned an Annie nomination for Best Short Subject alongside DEAR BASKETBALL (which won). REVOLTING RHYMES won the Animated Special Production prize. All three films eventually made it at the Oscar, making it a strong year for the Annie Awards in this category. In some previous years, there were no correlation between the Annies and the Oscars but it looks like there was more alignment this year.

Mina Takla

Mina Takla is a foreign correspondent for AwardsWatch and the co-founder of The Syndicate, an online news agency that offers original content services to several film brands including Empire Magazine’s Middle East edition and the Dubai Film Festival. Takla has attended, covered and written from over 10 film festivals online including the Dubai International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Cannes, Venice and Annecy Film Festivals. He has been following the Oscar race since 2000 with accurate, office-pool winning predictions year after year. He writes monthly in Empire Arabia, the Arabic version of the world’s top cinema magazine and conducts press junkets with Hollywood stars in the UK and the US. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Marketing from Australia’s Wollongong University and is currently based in Dubai, UAE.

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