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Animated Shorts 2022

It’s always an adjustment seeing animated shorts up for the Oscars. You need to make a shift, away from  the expectation of easy entertainment. Away from expecting to laugh at a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Fond Memories of Past Winners

There have been truly  amazing Oscar animated shorts in the past. There have been the kind that kind that stick in your memory like a sticky dumpling (think Bao)…

or that float lovingly in your memory (think Paperman)…

Or that can bring you to tears (think If Anything Happens I Love You).

Look for the beauty of the animation as a separate art form, these shorts seem to demand.

Well, this year was particularly demanding.

And left us leaving the theater thinking demanding our money back.

No Fond Memories This Year


Maybe it’s because the world is such a gruesome downer. Six million have died of Covid after all, war is raging, and things are bloodier than ever.

What a downer of a year, and what a downer set of animated shorts.

This year’s shorts featured

  • decapitations
  • bestiality
  • animal torture
  • human torture
  • suicide
  • prisoners dumped in body bags
  • gunshots to the head
  • sexual harassment
  • crowds screaming for blood,
  • and more

…all in 90 or so rough (very rough) minutes.

And the one that wasn’t horrifyingly gory, was horrifyingly sickly sweet, 30 minutes of puppet animation nausea.

Yeah, there were some moments, and lots of skill and creativity, but, in a word – 


Short Reviews of the Animated Shorts

In order of appearance:

Robin Robin

Ugh. Ugh.

30 sickly sweet moments with a lovely moral tale of the mice family accepting Robin the robin as one of their own. Robin isn’t a great mouse, but he saves the day against the ferocious evil cat, gets the family lots of snacks, and shares the adventure with an annoying magpie collecting shiny spoons and things. They even capture he star on top of a Christmas tree because its magical. Kitschy songs make you feel like you just drank the revolting concoction they make you drink to see if you have diabetes.

The animation technique is intricate and detailed, with felt puppets in a tour de force of Claymation. But, the admiration is short-lived. The plot makes it yawnworthy.

It stretches and stretches on and on and has you silently (or not so silently) yelling NEXT!


Or is that Nyext.

BoxBallet, which has its charms, has the sad misfortune of being a Russian animation production, at a time when anything having to do with Russia is out of bounds.

Which is ironic, and a shame, because this one has an optimistic soul, in which love triumphs (albeit hard to believe), and the happy couple open the window to a new beginning featuring perestroika, glasnost, and Boris Yeltsin.

Turn on the TV today. So much for that.

The story features a caricature grotesque of a down-on-his-luck boxer, scars and pickle nose and all. Somehow he falls for a prima ballerina, who falls temporarily for the promise of a lead role from the sleazy ballet producer. The boxer sees her go off with the sleazebag. The boxer becomes a punching bag at his bout. The ballerina escapes the sleazeboat’s clutches and sees pickle nose being pummeled while the crowd yells for blood. Then, abruptly, the next scene shows them together in a dacha together while the TV shows Yelstin and the announcer says you never know.

Yup. You never know. The grotesque parody can be hilarious. The grotesqueness of the current Russian moment pummels everything else into tragic oblivion.

Affairs of the Art

What can you say about this one besides – blech. More gross than grotesque.

Affairs of the Art parodies the artistic pursuits of 58 year old Beryl, an overweight woman who reminisces on her struggle to pursue her art, including painting herself blue and plopping on a sheet for some new kind of action abstraction or something like that. She repeatedly paints her balding, naked, blubbery husband running and falling down the stairs in her latest artistic technique.

On the way we see the parallel history of Beryl’s sadistic sister who tortures mice and bugs, explores taxidermy first hand (falling asleep clutching a taxidermy for kids user guide), stuffs the family dog he’s eyeball pops out, you get it.

And in the end we hear Beryl going on and on in a fawning interview about her art technique

There’s a “not for children” warning before this one. Should have been a “not for anyone” warning.

The Windshield Wiper

This moody piece tries to answer the question “what is love” with an array of largely lonely scenes. Over a backdrop of an inane coffeeshop conversation heard in the background, a narrator chain smokes and ponders. We see a tattooed naked girl moodily sharing a cigarette and sunrise and jumping in the water. We see a lonely Japanese woman jumping off a rooftop and her body flailing after she descends to her death. We see a deranged homeless man growling and shouting at his own image in a storefront, only to slump and sleep underneath the store display. We see a couple swiping to a match on Tinder while they stand right next to each other in real life and are too absorbed in their phones to notice. We see a man on the inside of a skyscraper window approach a man cleaning the outside of the window on a scaffold, as they both press their lips to the glass and kiss across the pane. We see a lover’s embrace, female kissing leg lift and all, as an elevator door closes. We see our chain smoker café narrator return and tell us that love is an exclusive club.

Ok… well… ok.

It just doesn’t really feel like it works. Lots of melancholy scenes, just more mopey than marvelous.

And the title – why “windshield wiper?” Because we see scene and then another scene and then another, as if the wipers changed the set?

I’m for wiping this one away.


And then there’s Bestia. Best ya stay away from this exploration of man being beast.

Set largely in dictatorship-era Chile, we eventually come to realize that the central character of the movie is involved in torturing prisoners wrapped up in body bags in a basement while playing loud music to cover the noise. There is stuffing of the bodies in trunks. She plays catch the stick with her dog, and later the dog is seen returning favors to her in bed (bestia+ality). She keeps a diary, ultimately gets shot by bad guys, manages to live, dreams vividly of decapitating her dogs, is haunted by her past, and just generally is beastly and miserable. The animation style, in which the main character is basically a porcelain doll with a gunshot wound – adds (or rather subtracts) to the general beastly mood.

As the final entry in the movie set, the lights go up while you run to throw up.

Winner Among Losers?

Chuck it up. Spit it out.

Which entry will win? Who’s the winner among all these losers?

Our vote would go to BoxBallet just for the sheer nimble grotesqueness of the film. But anything Russian these days will get a nyet.

We suspect that the award will go to Robin Robin, just as a choice of sickly sweet over pure sickening.

We suspect that Oscar will be busy puking animatedly this year.

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