Reviewing the 2021 Animated Short Nominees

The wonderful thing about this generation is the availability of nominees in the Best Animated Short category.  It does take a little searching around, but each title was found online for free.  The five nominees are an eclectic group.  Check them out below.

Affairs of the Art
Nominees Joanna Quinn and Les Mills
Watch on YouTube

Beryl, a Welsh housewife, shares her interests in drawing while presenting her family of eccentrics and the all-consuming interests they choose, whether it’s pickling, bug-collecting, or attempting to destroy a toy train with a pet mouse inside.

Delightfully spastic and eclectic. While the animation might come across as amateurish, you soon realize it’s a feature, not a bug. The out-of-nowhere narrative kept going in different directions, but every direction was nothing short of absolutely delightful. Speaks to following your dreams no matter what has happened in life and when you begin.

Score: 4.5/5.0

Bestia
Nominees Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz
Watch on Vimeo

During a military dictatorship in Chile, a secret police agent explores her relationship with her body, her dog, her fears and frustrations, which reveal a fractured psyche mirrored in her tumultuous country.

Very memorable, but more because of the disturbing imagery and even more disturbing history behind it. I don’t have the expertise in Chilean history to put it any deeper than that, though I’m sure the metaphors are plentiful and powerful if you have the historical background to go with it. The animation is well crafted and disturbingly original, especially the porcelain doll look of the lead character.

Score: 3.5/5.0

BoxBallet
Nominee Anton Dyakov
Watch on Vimeo

A brutish boxer and a delicate ballerina come together despite their different perspectives on life. When their occupations overtake their relationship, they struggle to come together.

In a world filled with gloom and despair, it’s nice to see a story about two people overcoming the darker sides of their chosen professions to come together. Though not sweet throughout, the end notes more than make up for it. Bonus points for a bitchy cat.

Score: 3.5/5.0

Robin Robin
Nominees Dan Ojari and Mikey Please
Watch on Netflix

A robin raised by mice tries to fit in with her family, but her independence leads her to a lone magpie who collects items. She learns that wishes can be granted by the star on top of a Christmas tree and attempts to retrieve it, but runs afoul of a local cat.

Unsurprisingly, Aardman studios doesn’t miss. The story resonates on plenty of heart-warming levels, including themes of self-acceptance, friendship, and even adoption. Casting Gillian Anderson as a devious cat should be Oscar-worthy on its own. The songs are a bit hit or miss, but it was still a great little film.

Score: 4.0/5.0

The Windshield Wiper
Nominees Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez
Watch on YouTube

A series of stories intersect and intercut all exploring, “What is love?”

Outside of the stunningly-rendered animation, nothing much worked about it for me. It felt like an older generation bemoaning the lack of connection in modern dating, but that generation couldn’t focus on one thing to complain about. Too much chaos, not enough control.

Score: 2.5/5.0

My Rankings

  1. Affairs of the Art
  2. Robin Robin
  3. BoxBallet
  4. Bestia
  5. The Windshield Wiper

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