The nominees have been announced for this year’s Oscars, and while the world discusses who deserves that Best Picture statuette, it’s also an exciting time for lesser-known filmmaking talent. There are two animation categories: Best Animated Film, with nominees comprising Coco, The Breadwinner, Ferdinand, Loving Vincent and The Boss Baby. The other – falling a few scrolls further down the lengthy list – celebrates animated short films, and spotlights some emerging names (albeit amid some rather more established names) in animation we should all be paying attention to.
The first, Garden Party, was a graduation film directed by Florian Babikian, Vincent Bayoux, Victor Caire, Théophile Dufresne, Gabriel Grapperon and Lucas Navarro, and its list of film festival accolades is extensive, to say the least. Its trailer, available to watch online here, gives a snippet of the story, which focuses on frogs left to their own devices in a mansion.
Baltimore-based directorial duo Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata are behind Negative Space, an adaptation of a poem by Ron Koertge. The beautiful stop-motion film is about a boy who establishes a connection with his father by learning how to pack a suitcase. The duo is also the founders of animation studio Tiny Inventions.
Dear Basketball is based on a poetic letter written by basketball star Kobe Bryant, which he penned when he announced his retirement and more recently developed into a screenplay. It’s directed by Glen Keane – far from an emerging name in the industry having worked as a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Pocahontas. To add to the star-studded list, John Williams scored the film.
Also from the mainstream end of the scale, but no less worth a watch is Pixar’s short Lou. Expectedly smart and magical, the film tells the story of a school bully taunted by a creature made from all the lost property in the playground.
Lastly, Revolting Rhymes by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer, co-directed by Bin-han To, takes on the tricky task of bringing Roald Dahl to life. It has a list of famous voice actors, from Tamsin Greig to Dominic West, and features charming CGI characters upturning classic fairytale tropes.
The winners will be announced on 4 March.