Sweeping epics and twisty capers are all well and good, but for a long time, the short films have been my favorite categories at the Oscars.
And maybe it's all those childhood hours watching classic Looney Tunes and Disney Silly Symphonies, but the animated shorts always rank among the highlights for me when it comes time to prepare for the Academy Awards.
The 86th Academy Awards will be handed out March 2, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is in the midst of its Oscar Tune-Up. The annual film feast includes servings of the Oscar-nominated animated and live-action shorts this weekend and Feb. 28-March 2. The short documentaries will be shown Feb. 25-27.
Per usual, Disney is represented among the Oscar-nominated animated shorts, although not with the mini-movie I would have preferred. The technological razzle-dazzle of “Get a Horse!,” which is showing in theaters with “Frozen,” is nominated, while Pixar's endearingly lovely “The Blue Umbrella,” which was packaged with “Monsters University,” sadly isn't.
“Get a Horse!” packs plenty of whiz-bang fun into six minutes with its fourth-wall-busting mash-up of vintage and computer-animated Mouse House high jinks. It starts out as a black-and-white homage to the “Steamboat Willie” era, with Mickey Mouse and his pals enjoying a hayride until the villainous Peg-Leg Pete tries to ruin their outing. Over the course of their skirmish, Mickey busts through the movie screen into the “real” world, where he is trapped in full-color CGI and enlists the help of Horace the horse to rescue Minnie.
Unfortunately, director Lauren MacMullan's “Get a Horse!” doesn't have the same emotional resonance of “The Blue Umbrella” or last year's Oscar-winning animated short, Disney's “Paperman,” which also melded modern-day and old-school techniques and aesthetics.
The colorful cartoon “Room on the Broom,” a warm, star-studded adaptation of the British picture book by writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, casts a sweet, if short-lived, spell for both adults and children. Narrated by Simon Pegg, it follows a kindly but clumsy witch (voice of Gillian Anderson) who suddenly finds her broom overloaded with misfit critters.