“Boxballet” – “Boxballet” is a wordless Russian love story between an Olive Oyl-like ballerina and a hulking, burly boxer. It’s a nice exploration of opposites being attracted to one another, and how these characters have more layers to them than their professions would indicate. I’m somewhat put off by an animation style that makes humans look too much like extreme caricatures that it makes it hard to connect to them, but there are some lovely flourishes and textures here to keep our eyes on the screen. Directed by Anton Dyakov. (15 min.)
“Robin Robin” – No Disney, Pixar, or Sony titles this year, but we do have an Aardman film and it’s no doubt poised to take home the award (FYI, the most kid-friendly film almost always wins, so you’d be foolish to bet against it). This utterly charming short tells the tale of Robin (voiced by Bronte Carmichael), a bird who believes she is, or could be, a mouse, just like the ones who sneak into houses without being noticed. The artists traded in claymation for felt, with elaborately designed settings that make this tangible piece all the more worthy of a big-screen viewing. Aardman hasn’t won this award in 25 years and, while it may not be their most inventive, it nevertheless is a delight. Also featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson and Richard E. Grant. Directed by Daniel Ojari and Michael Please. (32 min.)
“The Windshield Wiper” – With its metaphorical title, this film explores love in many forms and how the chance to have it in one’s life often gets missed (swiping through dating profiles in rapid succession, for instance). “The Windshield Wiper” travels through many cities and even into space, where a text message exchange is superimposed over a hovering satellite, with one’s deepest feelings and desires becoming a synthetic exchange instead of an in-person, heartfelt declaration. The narratives here aren’t meant to coalesce into a final moment that explains everything (despite what the man on the train says at the end), but to further express that there exists no big answer or epiphany regarding chance encounters or explosive relationships. They happen or don’t, based on the choices we make. The animation style relies primarily on rotoscoping, but the colors here are sharp and arresting; the flow of the piece is hypnotic. My personal favorite of the bunch. Directed by Alberto Mielgo. (14 min.)
The 2022 Oscar Nominated Shorts programs are currently in theaters. They will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Verizon, and Google Play starting on March 22. For more info, visit Shorts.tv.