The other Oscar-nominated shorts

February 19, 2010|By Michael Sragow | michael.sragow@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

Animation

"Logorama": This giddy, inventive nightmare chase from France, set in Los Angeles and out of this world, wrings nonstop surprise and a sort of beauty from a vision of corporate logos taking over Earth, the solar system and the Milky Way. It leaves you perched on just the right spot between exhilaration and exhaustion.

"Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty": Americans should embrace this Irish cartoon as a worthy update of "Fractured Fairy Tales" from "Rocky and Bullwinkle": a computer-animated crone tells her frightened granddaughter her own embittered version of "The Sleeping Beauty," rendered in an elegant, cracked version of classical 2-D animation.

"French Roast": A miniaturist's delight: a swift Gallic fable about stinginess and generosity played out by a cheap upper-cruster, a hirsute beggar, an improbable thief and a dazed cop in a Parisian cafe.

"The Lady and the Reaper": In this slapstick Spanish dance of Death, an aging widow is about to be united with her husband when a super-doctor interrupts and engages in a madcap duel with a spirit who wears a cowl and carries a scythe.

Live Action

"Kavi": A depiction of bonded slave labor in a brick kiln in India: honorable yet grueling, with just one crowning poetic touch.

"The Door": A well-crafted cameo of emotional fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Did the live-action shorts committee suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder?

"Miracle Fish": A misfit boy finds himself in the middle of a school disaster. Pass the Prozac, please.

"The New Tenants": In a cathartic explosion of black humor, two newcomers to a gloomy big-city apartment discover that it's been a center of domestic frays and drug deals. A tarnished gem of nervous humor, with Vincent D'Onofrio's best acting in years.

"Instead of Abracadabra": If you liked "Napoleon Dynamite," you'll love this Swedish tale of a grown man who dreams of becoming a star magician while living with, and practicing on, his parents. Even if, like me, you didn't enjoy "N.D.," you'll find this absurdly funny.

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