Could "Lava" Win An Oscar? 11 Nominated Pixar Shorts Mean This Year's Clip Has A Shot At The Top Prize — VIDEOS
A favorite studio of adults and children alike, Pixar has been responsible for countless contemporary classics, like Finding Nemo, Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Ratatouille... the list could go on. But perhaps just as good as its features are the consistently excellent animated shorts that precede the theatrical run of each film, and "Lava," the short that accompanies Inside Out, is no exception. The shorts usually don't have much thematic connection to their feature, but they offer a concentrated dose of all the craft that goes into the main event. "Lava" seems to have it all: Stunning visuals, a catchy and enchanting song, and a sweet love story, all packed into a seven-minute narrative. It leads us to wonder — is "Lava" worthy of the top prize in filmmaking? Can "Lava" win an Oscar?
It's definitely possible. Inside Out has already garnered some Oscar buzz itself, but the award for Best Animated Short doesn't have quite the same prestige as the feature award. Still, Pixar has a long relationship with the Academy — its shorts have been nominated a total of 11 times, winning three times. It's a pretty incredible collection, and each short is just another reason "Lava" has got to be in the running for this year's Oscars. In the hopes that it will, we've compiled a list of 11 Oscar-nominated Pixar shorts to remind you of the best creations the studio has brought us since its inception.
1. "Luxo, Jr." (1986)
As far back as 1987, Pixar was already on the Oscar radar (for reference, the studio was incorporated in 1986). The short "Luxo, Jr." was the basis for the hopping lamp in the Pixar logo, and the film itself is about the relationship between two lamps — Luxos Sr. and Jr. The short was nominated in 1987, though it didn't nab the prize. The studio would have to wait till 1989 for that...
2. "Tin Toy" (1988)
The tin toy of this short, "Tinny," attempts to escape his infant owner, only to realize that he's intended to be played with. According to Pixar's website, "Tin Toy" won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Animated Short because the film was the first to attempt to animate a lifelike figure — “balancing its 'cartoony' look with a baby's real looks."
3. "Geri's Game" (1997)
It would take nearly ten more years for Pixar to receive the Animated Short Oscar once again, as the studio was on a hiatus from short film production in the early '90s. When they finally won, it was for "Geri's Game," perhaps one of the most iconic shorts Pixar has produced to date. In the short accompanying A Bug's Life, the titular character Geri sits in a park playing chess with himself. His livelier alter-ego begins to pull ahead at the outset of the game, only to have the "true" Geri pull one over on himself in the conclusion. It was a glorious return to short films for Pixar and heralded some really marvelous animations to come.
4. "For the Birds" (2000)
This one is, objectively, just the best work Pixar has ever done. Leaving aside how freakin' adorable the birds themselves are, the animation is marvelous — their quivering feathers, expressive eyes, and the story of the dorky outsider that the other birds eventually learn to love. It's the ultimate tale of redemption, told entirely in adorable little bird-like honks. It didn't win the Oscar till 2002, but it was so, so deserved when it did. The play count for this one in my iTunes library is now well over 20.
5. "Mike's New Car" (2002)
"Mike's New Car" stars that Mike, of Monster's, Inc. fame. According to the Pixar site, it was the studio's first short to feature characters out of a full-length film, and the first to feature dialogue (though honestly, the honking birds in For the Birds are just as entertaining). Though nominated, "Mike's New Car," directed by Inside Out's Pete Docter, went home empty-handed.
6. "Boundin'" (2003)
If you didn't leave the theater still singing, "Bound, bound, bound and rebound," I can't relate. This uplifting tale of a shorn sheep who learns body acceptance with the help of an energetic jackalope friend, though, is relatable. It was nominated, and did not win, the 2004 Oscar, and I don't want to comment on that.
7. "One Man Band" (2005)
A young girl approaches a fountain to make a wish... and finds herself caught in a duel between two street musicians, melodically sparring for the coin she holds in her hand. The short's creators worked on storyboarding and music simultaneously, resulting in a completely immersive audio-visual presentation. Again, it didn't win the Oscar.
8. "Lifted" (2006)
A hapless teenage alien attempts to abduct a farmer under supervision of a none-too-impressed tutor. Haven't we all experienced that feeling of mastering a skill, but it only lasts until we have to do it in front of someone else? Director Gary Rydstrom has won seven Oscars and been nominated for 17 more, including this nomination for "Lifted."
9. "Presto" (2008)
Named for its main character, a magician, "Presto" weaves a tale of what happens if you forget to feed your pet (in this case, his animal a trusty rabbit) just a bit too frequently. With title credits straight out of a vintage silent film, the scene opens on Alex the rabbit struggling for a carrot that's just out of his reach (while Presto seems to have just enjoyed a decadent meal). In an act of revenge, sweet little Alex causes everything that could go wrong with Presto's performance to go really catastrophically wrong. Though Presto's act receives a standing ovation at the short's conclusion, the Academy passed on the film's award that year.
10. "Day & Night" (2010)
Two miniature deities, one of day and one of night, meet with suspicion, but soon learn they complement each other in ways neither could have conceived. It originally accompanied Toy Story 3 in theaters, and while "Day & Night" didn't nab the award at the 83rd Oscars ceremony, Toy Story 3 did win Best Animated Picture.
11. "La Luna" (2011)
Accompanying the theatrical run of Brave, "La Luna" follows a father-grandfather-son trio out to sea, where they climb to the moon to clean it of stellar debris it has accumulated. As they clean, the moon grows darker — answering that "Why does the moon rise and set?" question that plagues childhood with a tale of mythic quality. Though it lost the 2012 Oscar to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, critic Michał Oleszczyk still placed it among the best productions of 2011.
Pixar hasn't won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in over a decade, though it's been consistently nominated since it started producing the films. Even if the time hasn't come to break the streak (it has, though! "Lava" is the one!), the latest addition "Lava" is worthy of what John Lasseter created when he first switched on little Luxo's light bulb.
Images: Walt Disney Studios; Pixar (1)