Monday, February 20, 2017


Welcome to our special OSCAR WEEK SERIES of reviews. This series will go through the seven categories in which an award is given based on the entire film (rather than any one constituent element). This second review in the series will go through the ANIMATED SHORT nominees.


Blind Vaysha is a short film out of Canada by director Theodore Ushev. The short tells the story of a girl who was born effectively blind with one eye only seeing things in the future and one eye only seeing things in the past. This was a really interesting and captivating short that was an artfully designed and well executed concept.

The real strengths of this piece are Ushev’s ingenuity and cleverness in creating the story. The idea of this character with this seeming gift yet, simultaneously, serious ailment was really interesting and had me questioning everything as a viewer. I also thought that the story was generally well told. The art design was interesting but sort of limited and left something to be desired especially in comparison to the concept at large. I think this is a genuinely great short film and one worth checking out!

Ryan’s Score: 8.5/10


Borrowed Time is a short film developed through the Pixar University co-op program by animators Andrew Coates and Lou Hamou-Lhadj. The short tells the story of an old sheriff who visits the scene of a traumatic event from his past. This is one of the best animated shorts I have seen and goes above and beyond anything you would expect.

This short is great because it manages to tell a deeply emotionally complex story almost entirely through effective animation. There is dialogue in the film but it is subtle and doesn’t tell the emotional story that the film itself tells through use of dark and lights as well as subtle visual clues that gets the audience to a point where the weight of the drama hits them like a tonne of bricks. I think this is a really top notch film and one of the most emotionally moving pieces of cinema I saw in 2016, short or no.

Ryan’s Score: 9.5/10

Extended review here.


Pear Cider and Cigarettes is an adult short film from Canada by director Robert Valley. The short tells the story of a character named Rob and his difficult and trying relationship with a self-destructive childhood friend who requires help when he is at a hospital in China. I found this film to be interesting but not overwhelming.

The central conceit of the film is pretty simple: it is a guy telling the audience about his charismatic, self-destructive friend and the relationship they had. At the start of the film we’re told the eventual fate of the friend and it set up like it was going to be some kind of noir mystery which had me fully invested from moment one. As the film progressed, however, I began to realize that that wasn’t the point at all and it was really a long (for a short film) and detailed character piece about this interesting figure. The film had me most of the way through but I admit I have thought very little of it since and the animation left much to be desired. I think this is a worthwhile short film to check out but not one people need to see by any stretch of the imagination.

Ryan’s Score: 7/10


Pearl is a short film written and directed by Patrick Osbourne that tells the story of a father and daughter in a car as he struggles to make it as a musician and she comes of age. This short is stylistically interesting but overall left almost no impression on me at all.

Pearl isn’t unpleasant to watch by any means and it does have an interesting style of animation that makes it feel somewhat worthwhile. The story generally works as well. I think the biggest problem Pearl has is that I just did not care about it. I had no investment in the story at all and really just felt nothing from a story that I think was supposed to make you feel something. I can’t say this is bad, but I wouldn’t call it good either.

Ryan’s Score: 6/10


Piper is the latest short film from Pixar. The film played in front of their latest film Finding Dory. The short, directed by Alan Barillaro, tells the story of a young sandpiper being taught to find food and having to overcome obstacles after an initially traumatic experience. This is, simply put, one of the best short films I have ever seen.

Piper is delightful from start to finish. It gets you instantly invested with cuteness and proceeds to go so much beyond that by telling a simple yet clever coming of age story that is really quite beautiful. Speaking of beauty, the animation in this short is simply spectacular. Pixar does a lot of their experimental work through their short films and to see the level of realism from the feathers on the bird to every single grain of sand I was gob-smacked. This is absolutely incredible and belongs in the annals of the great Pixar shorts from years gone by. Piper is beautiful technically and in story and is a short film everyone should go see immediately.

Ryan’s Score: 10/10

Check out Lisa’s full review here.

Ryan’s Pick: Piper
Ryan’s Prediction: Piper
GoldDerby Experts Prediction: Piper

Thank you for checking out this article. Be sure to check back with us over the course of the lead up to the 89th Academy Awards!

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