A friend invited me to watch a complete showing of the 2019 Oscar-nominated animated short films last Friday night at the beautiful Normal Theater. I didn’t know anything about the nominees, but I thought it sounded like a fun time so I went.
All of the nominees were very good in their own particular way, but only one of them won me over in all facets.
No, it wasn’t Bao. Don’t get me wrong. I like Bao. I’d actually seen it at Disney World last summer. It’s got a heart-warming story and the animation is wonderful. I think most people figured it would win the Oscar. Heck, I figured it would win the Oscar. It’s hard to compete with Pixar, after all. Guess what? It won the Oscar.
But, as much as I liked Bao, it wasn’t my favorite.
No, my top choice was actually an animated short film called Weekends.
Weekends did not have the cleanest animation, nor the finest detail, nor the most inspired texture, but it had heart. And at its heart, the messy animation actually amplified a messy story.
Weekends is about a young boy being shuffled between his mom’s house and his dad’s house after a divorce. The boy is loved by both parents, but he’s also–at times–something of a distraction through no fault of his own. Therefore, the boy spends a lot of time alone while at both houses.
My parents are still married to this day, but Weekends struck me as a very real depiction of what childhood must be like for the children of divorcees. The mother and the father of the boy are not evil, they are not bad in any way shape or form. However, both of them are trying to build a new life, both of them are experiencing new lovers, and both of them are trying to figure out how to live without the other. In the mix of all that, the child, at times, falls to the wayside. His loneliness during these moments are heart-wrenching.
There’s no dialogue in this short film. The animation sets the mood just fine on its own. While Bao is a top-notch, beautiful, well-rendered film that makes us feel squeaky clean, Weekends is scratchy, a little ugly, and makes us feel off-kilter. But even though it doesn’t look pretty, Weekends‘ creators absolutely knew what they were doing. It’s obvious they found a style that best fits the story and the boy’s journey.
In my opinion, Weekends story and design execution resonated most deeply with me on an emotional and technical level, which is what made it my all-around favorite of the nominees.
I’ve embedded it below if you’d like to give it a watch …
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