Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (1992)

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase ReviewMona Lisa Descending a Staircase Review

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase is a 1992 Oscar winning animated short film that is for art fans alone.

The film consists of various images of famous paintings and the selling point is that each painting gets morphed into the next one. That is the point of this film and it has nothing else to offer besides that. Certainly the animation is strong and artistic and the animator pulled of this trick remarkably well for 1992, but it is still boring.

It is the kind of film that is unfortunately only suited for art majors and people who are really interested and know a lot about art. I personally have weak knowledge of that and thus I only recognized a couple of paintings here. The film is definitely a very boring watch.

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase has great animation, but despite that selling point, it doesn’t have a lot else to offer and is very boring and too artistic.

My Rating – 3

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The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)

The Man Who Planted Trees ReviewThe Man Who Planted Trees Review

The Man Who Planted Trees is a 1987 Canadian Oscar winning animated short film that is strong, but not great.

I like this film. I do not love it, but I like it. It has a moving story with a great environmental message. It is very emotionally resonant and highly beautiful in score and in animation. I absolutely adored its animation which is quite artistic in style and competent in execution. The biggest reason to see it lies in its wonderful style and of course in the beauty of nature and its message.

However, it is not a great movie because it is just way too long clocking in at thirty minutes and thus it can get tiresome and it is rarely truly involving despite its many strengths. And I also disliked the narration. The narrators did a good job, but I do not like the narration style overall and having in mind that it is a long movie and it was wholly narrated, that bothered me quite a bit.

The Man Who Planted Trees is artistic in its animation and moving in message and story, but overall overrated as it’s pretty boring and overlong with too much narration.

My Rating – 4

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Manipulation (1991)

Manipulation ReviewManipulation Review

Manipulation is a 1991 British Oscar winning animated short film that is solid.

A discarded cartoon character and some spilt ink combine and interact as if the cartoonist had drawn their actions. Discovering them, the cartoonist then joins in the interaction. That is the plot here and obviously it is not all that original as it has been done before, but still the film is solid enough that it did not matter too much.

I did not find that the film was too inventive in action or gags, but still fun in some scenes. Definitely the animation is the highlight as I really liked the character design and in particular how the film felt simplistic yet very polished in its look. It isn’t particularly strong and not awards worthy, but I do not mind too much that it won the Oscar regardless.

Manipulation isn’t original, but it is very well animated and with some memorable, fun scenes.

My Rating – 3.5

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A Greek Tragedy (1985)

A Greek Tragedy ReviewA Greek Tragedy Review

A Greek Tragedy is a 1985 Belgian Oscar winning animated short film that is quite disappointing.

The film follows three scantily dressed women who support the stones of Greek architecture. Eventually the building falls apart and the three, finally free and happy, dance away from the sight. Yes, this is a gag cartoon and for a film that is titled A Greek Tragedy, it is thoroughly misleading. There is nothing tragic about it, there is nothing epic in it and the film doesn’t even have any message to it.

You just follow these three women trying to support the building and that is basically it. And it isn’t even funny at that. The gags should have been much stronger. Admittedly I liked the score and I also really liked the animation and especially the character design of the women. But everything else is very weak and how this got an Oscar over ‘Luxo, Jr.’ I will never know.

A Greek Tragedy is an undeserved Oscar winner that looks and sounds good, but is pointless in plot, disappointing in execution and not even funny.

My Rating – 3

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Anna & Bella (1984)

Anna & Bella ReviewAnna & Bella Review

Anna & Bella is a 1984 Dutch Oscar winning animated short film that is quite pleasant.

The film follows two older sisters who are now angels in heaven and they look at their old photos and reminisce about their young lives. This is a very good, surprisingly unique concept that is also executed quite well, if not great. The animation is very good with excellent character design though admittedly the movements are a bit too floaty for me.

The sisters should have been better developed, but they are still nice and charming and I loved their sweet, strong relationship. I also really liked the choice to not have dialogue in the movie as it fitted the visuals more. The main problem is the car crash sequence which features overly weird imagery which I did not love. But the rest was very good with the beginning and ending being particularly strong. The score is also terrific.

Anna & Bella is a worthy Oscar winner with strong animation, a great concept and some wonderful sequences.

My Rating – 4

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Charade (1984)

Charade ReviewCharade Review

Charade is a 1984 Oscar winning animated short film that is very weak.

This is one of those films that are overly simplistic and I’ve seen similar concepts many times before. Here we follow people who play the game of charade. I guess some lines are funny, but not nearly enough. The film play like a straight, typical charade game and there is nothing interesting or new in it.

The animation is admittedly pretty solid with a good use of color and solid character design. But the film is a total bore to sit through even at its short runtime and it is way too short, clocking in at just five minutes. I didn’t care for it too much and it is one of the weaker Oscar winners.

Charade is an undeserved Oscar winner with an overly simplistic premise and not that great execution.

My Rating – 3

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The Fly (1980)

The Fly ReviewThe Fly Review

The Fly is a 1981 Hungarian Oscar winning animated short film that is quite intriguing.

The film follows one fly who comes into a house during an autumn day. Basically the hook here is that the film is filmed as if through the eyes of the fly and the camera work fits the view of the fly. This is a very interesting experiment mostly well executed and it is, needless to say, one of the more original Oscar winners in the animated short category.

I wanted a longer runtime and even more of the fly’s lifecycle such as feeding or reproducing, but the film still showcases how they fly so well in its very fittingly hectic cinematography. I liked the dark ending quite a bit, that house looked splendid and the sound design is superb as well as the animation which is awesome in its fittingly subdued colors.

The Fly definitely is short, but a deserved Oscar winner with fittingly subdued animation and hectic camera work.

My Rating – 4.1

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Tango (1981)

Tango ReviewTango Review

Tango is a 1981 Polish Oscar winning animated short film directed by Zbigniew Rybczynski. It’s an original film.

The film follows a group of thirty six different people in a house as they go about their daily routines but their paths never intersect so in my opinion this is the same house but set in very different time periods. I found this experiment really authentic as there isn’t anything quite like it either in animation or live-action. Watching these people provides a somewhat hypnotic experience and a highly memorable one.

Tango is not perfect owing to its style. I honestly found its live-action figurines or whatever you could call them very unappealing and the film almost looked like a live-action movie whereas it was supposed to be animation. I would have preferred to have animated characters much more. And the ending should have been more striking. But other than that, the film is intriguing in tone and quality, so well scored and even fascinating.

Tango is a deserved Oscar winner with an authentic premise and an other-worldly feel to it.

My Rating – 4

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The Black Dog (1987)

The Black Dog ReviewThe Black Dog Review

The Black Dog is a 1987 British animated short film directed by Alison de Vere. It is an excellent artistic endeavor.

The story is about a woman who wakes up to find the titular black dog who then takes her on a long, interesting and difficult journey. I won’t describe the entire journey as the film is 18 minutes long, but the highlight for me is easily that tavern which provides the luxuries of drugs, sex and alcohol. That was a really atmospheric scene as is the entire film and it felt otherworldly in quality. I also loved what happened afterwards with the payment, really intriguing.

The film is obviously deep in meaning, it is about self-discovery and it is layered in symbolism and thematic riches that it is quite ambiguous and anyone can interpret it differently. My interpretation is that this is a dream world and her fantasies and the dog offers some sort of salvation which is evident from the moment he appeared as he looked saint-like. It is about the dangers of living a careless life. Not all segments here were as fascinating and the animation is not the greatest, but the atmosphere is palpable and it is such a weird, authentic and unforgettable short beautifully directed by Alison de Vere.

The Black Dog is deep, rich in symbols and themes and so incredibly atmospheric that I would definitely call it a work of art in its own way.

My Rating – 4.5

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Crac (1981)

Crac ReviewCrac Review

Crac is a 1981 Canadian Oscar winning animated short film that is quite charming.

I really enjoyed this film which is a very original and immensely delightful tale of one rocking chair. We follow its history from its creation in the factory to one farming family to an art museum where it eventually ended up. The film is long, but rarely boring in spite of the fact that not all of its segments are great. It is a very moving, wonderful movie and I only wish that the chair was more memorable and more anthropomorphized.

The animation is truly fantastic. I loved its simplistic, watercolor, dreamlike quality and the designs of the chair and the characters are all superb but the highlight is the fluidity and elegance of this animation. The score is also simply lovable, classic and I loved every tune used here, all very well incorporated into the storyline. The highlights were the segment in the family and of course the kids in the museum.

Crac is a deserved Oscar winner with lovely animation, a charming tale and many wonderful sequences.

My Rating – 4.2

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