I recently heard someone quip that proposals to cut the Academy Awards are tantamount to suggesting that the NFL trim down the Super Bowl. Certainly for many who would rather watch the former any day of the week, even the play-by-play of technical categories repays attention. Yet people who think of the Oscars as a major sporting event with big stars and blockbusters going head-to-head can still appreciate the show as more than spectacle. How else, for example, would most of us learn about brilliant animated short films like the National Film Board of Canada’s Animal Behaviour, made by husband and wife team Alison Snowden and David Fine and nominated in this year’s Oscars? (See the trailer above.)
Snowden and Fine previously won an Oscar in 1995 for Bob’s Birthday, a hilarious short about an unhappy British dentist. Their latest film takes a charming, anthropomorphic route to the question Fine poses as, “Should what comes naturally to you be something that you seek to change to please others, or should others accept you as you are?”
Group therapy participants seeking acceptance include Lorraine, a leech with separation anxiety, Victor, an ape with anger issues, and Cheryl, a praying mantis, writes the National Film Board, “who can’t seem to keep a man.”
The NFB informs us that Animal Behaviour is their 75th Oscar-nomination in the category of Animated Short Film, and whether you’re inclined to watch this part of the awards or not, you can get caught up with their extensive playlist of 66 Oscar-winning and nominated films on YouTube. (Bob’s Birthday is not available, at least in the U.S., but you can watch it here.) See Snowden and Fine’s first film, George and Rosemary, a story in which “two golden agers prove that passion isn’t reserved for the very young.”
Watch the very impressive stop-motion animation of 2007’s Madame Tutli-Putli, an “exhilarating existential journey” directed by Chris Lavis & Maciek Szczerbowski. See Chris Landreth’s 2013 Oscar-winning computer-animated short, Ryan, about a character “living every artist’s worst nightmare.”
And see the 2007 Oscar-winning existential animated short The Danish Poet, directed by Torill Kove and featuring narration by Liv Ullmann. The offerings are vast and varied, displaying the very best of Canadian animation, a national art that usually goes unseen and unacknowledged by audiences outside its borders. But after watching several of these films you might agree that NFB animation deserves its long history of recognition at the Oscars. See the complete playlist of films here.
Many of these films can be found in our collection, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, Documentaries & More.