The Oscar nominations have dropped. Among them are a number of great short films. Three of the contenders for Best Animated Short Film are currently available to view online: Hair Love, Kitbull, and Sister. And they’re all worth seeking out.
Hair Love is my favorite short film of 2019. Released through Sony Pictures Animation and playing before the inferior The Angry Birds Movie 2, Matthew A. Cherry’s film is equal parts tender, funny, energetic, and imaginative. It tells a beautifully heartfelt tale of a father and daughter. The daughter wants the father to help her style her hair, and it becomes evident that he is way out of his element.
The animation in Hair Love is slick, and the imagery it concocts is inventive and clever. Cherry, along with co-directors Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith, has created a loving animation out of such a simple concept, and it is a piece that demands to be seen.
You can watch Hair Love here.
Kitbull, from Pixar, follows an adorable stray cat with big, round eyes who, more than anything else, wants everyone to leave it alone. When the kitten finds itself in the presence of a chained-up pitbull, this independent streak gets tested.
For a silent film about two animals, Kitbull is fairly emotionally dense. The short grapples with how abused and stray animals are psychologically affected by their environments. And its hopeful ending, befitting of the Pixar brand, leaves a sweeter taste in the mouth than one would expect from a film about such dour subject matter.
You can watch Kitbull here.
Siqi Song’s Sister is a very tactile stop motion animated film about a brother and sister. It is, at least at first, a fantastical retelling of the pair’s relationship as children. The story is, in this sense, somewhat imaginative. For example, in one scene we see the sister, as a baby, enlarge to the size of a room. It is an intriguing little set piece in the beginning of the short which sets a strong tone.
But the story progression may rely too much on its vignette structure, which is interesting but doesn’t ultimately serve the narrative. There is a revelation halfway through the film which I don’t feel is properly served by this vignette structure. The revelation leads to a tone shift that, while powerful, feels imbalanced by the earlier vignettes.
Visually, though, Sister is lovely. The set design is intricate and fully-realized. The fantastical elements are presented in gorgeous stop motion, with images growing and shrinking in visually engaging ways. It is undoubtedly a well-crafted film.
You can watch Sister here.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)