Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Top Ten Animated Shorts of My Year: 2008

With a New Year's Resolution forming in my head as I type - get the flu jab next year - it is time to move on in my presentation of the top movies of my blog featured here in 2008.

Michael Sporn is one of the most intelligent and informed observers of animation in the world. I have lauded his splog before but now it is time for his work as a director in the 2005 The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. With a man whose antennae for all things animated is so sensitive it was not, as I guessed at the time, available online for long. I did provide a link for the DVD. Worth buying for this is a beautifully narrated and dramatic piece about a famous feat of tight-rope walking. The artwork, animation and all round production values here are remarkable. I am amazed it did not figure in the Oscar nominations. Resisting all puns to do with heights, Michael and his team deliver a spectacular experience.

Sarah Van den Boom is not such a great name - yet - though Acme now has her as one of its animators and they are no mean judge of talent by any means. Sarah's Novecento Pianiste is a fabulous piece of artistry however. Produced for all its seventeen minutes by her dextrous touch of the pencil (though she did have support from her husband and recruited five students to help her complete.) In largely black and white, save for one exuberant burst of colour, she tells the tale of a baby born on an early twentieth century ocean liner, a boat that would be the eventual pianist's home for all his life. A class act. Evocative.

Weird Fishes will be unlike any other animated film you will see in this year, or any other year. Produced by the ever resourceful Tobias Stretch it features creatures of a deep imagination soaring over lovely landscapes to the music of Radiohead. I loved it in storyboard form, half finished and in its glorious rapturous ... yes, I liked it all right.
Favelados directed by Laurent Rossi and Victoria Davies (Tori) grows with each viewing. I am left staggered by the technical excellence of the two students from Bournemouth whose graduation movie this was. Its sad tale of a girl dying in Rio's slums despite the best attentions of her brother is sensitively handled and if you want to see the traditional skills of art and animation applied using modern software by young people destined to make a huge impact in the industry, this is the movie for you. I use the accompanying background as a screensaver on my computer.

And from newcomers to another of the greats. Anna and Bella won an Oscar for Borge Ring in 1985. Gosh does it wears its years well, as all the best animations do. With humour to grace Tex Avery, sadness too, and one of the most tense scenes one is likely to enjoy in any sort of movie ever. The warmth of this great man whose emails to me should will be cherished in electronic gold casing. The story of the two sisters who love each other, fall in love with the same man, and live on, is one of the all time classic animated shorts.

All five just (in the last case by a sliver of a whisker: I have to leave space for youth somewhere) missed out on my top two spots to be announced tomorrow.

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