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Academy Awards: Animated Shorts 2010

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For the last five years, this category has been won by an animated short that told a serious story. Happily, this will not be the case this year, as all five nominees are comedies or satires.

A Matter of Loaf and Death (United Kingdom)
Okay, I'm a Nick Park fan, so the first Wallace and Gromit short in 13 years is automatically cause for celebration. The last one, A Close Shave, won an Oscar in 1996, as did two other Wallace and Gromit shorts and the feature-length The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. A Matter of Loaf and Death does not disappoint. This time around, man and dog are bakers in a town in which 12 bakers have been murdered. Cheerful and oblivious, Wallace notes that, tragedy though this may be, at least it is good for their own business. Along the way, both Wallace and Gromit fall in love, although, not surprisingly, Gromit's poodle is a wiser choice than Wallace's ex-celebrity beauty.

Some of the most enjoyable moments are the little extras that Park throws in. For example, in his bedroom, Gromit has a poster of his favorite classic movie: Citizen Canine. His music collection includes Poochini and The Hound of Music.

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (Ireland)
When Granny comes into Granddaughter's bedroom and offers to read her a bedtime story, the little girl is not enthusiastic. We soon learn why. When she tells it, Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty is drenched in Granny's bitterness about the way people treat "the elderly fairy" because she is old and decrepit and has a bad knee and sleeps a lot and no longer has her muscle tone.

The Lady and the Reaper (Spain)
I can see some members of the Academy voting for The Lady and the Reaper because it is about being old and facing death, popular topics at the Academy, as seen by last year's winner, La Maison en petits cubes. But keep in mind that all of this year's nominees are comedies. In The Lady and the Reaper, an old woman is ready for death and looks forward to joining her late husband in Heaven. The Grim Reaper arrives to accompany her across the river, but their plans are thwarted by a heroic surgeon who insists on keeping the old woman alive.

French Roast (France)
French Roast follows the dilemma of a businessman who drinks a coffee at a café, but discovers that he has forgotten his wallet and cannot pay. He tries various ruses, most notably ordering coffee after coffee and then trying to steal the money from a nun's purse.

Logorama (France)
The most striking of the nominees, Logorama takes place in a Los Angeles in which the entire landscape consists of corporate logos. An armed and dangerous Ronald McDonald takes hostages and leads a wild car chase through the city. He is pursued by Michelin men cops. Logorama is too long, even at 16 minutes, and most of the discussion it has evoked is speculation about how the filmmakers got away with not being sued.