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Academy Awards 2013: Animated Shorts

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This year produced a relatively weak bunch of nominees skewed towards animators with big studio experience.

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare(USA)

Madge drops off Maggie to spend the day at the Ayn Rand School for Tots. A bit of background for those who are unfamiliar with Ayn Rand: Rand (1905-1982) was an atheist philosopher whose ideas have attracted such supporters as Rep. Paul Ryan, ex-Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She believed that selfishness is a virtue and that some people are simply born better than others. The most popular film expression of Rand's philosophy is the Pixar animated feature The Incredibles, in which a family born with super powers are the good guys, and the young man who is born normal, but uses intelligence and hard work to develop similar powers, is the villain.

So Maggie arrives at the Ayn Rand daycare center and is quickly assessed as being of average intelligence. Swept past the area for gifted children, she is dumped in the "Nothing Special" room. There she encounters an unpleasant toddler whose favorite activity is to kill butterflies. Naturally, Maggie tries to save the life of at least one butterfly.

Adam and Dog (USA)

At more than 15 minutes, Adam and Dog is the longest and most substantial of the animated short nominees. It is the work of Minkyu Lee, an employee of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Set in the days of Genesis, we watch the first cross-species coming-together of a man and a dog. When the man meets a woman, he forgets the dog...until Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden.

Fresh Guacamole (USA)

Clocking in at a mere one minute 41 seconds (including credits), Fresh Guacamole whimsically records the making of a bowl of guacamole from everyday objects, such as a pincushion, a light bulb... and a grenade. It was commissioned by Showtime and is the work of Adam Pesapane (a.k.a. PES).

Head over Heels (United Kingdom)

Head over Heels is the tale of an elderly, long-married couple who live in the same house, but upside-down, each on each other's ceiling. The husband tries to revive their previous emotional intimacy and return them to the same level. A reasonable conception, but it did not engage me.

Paperman (USA)

Directed by another Disney employee, John Kahrs, Paperman accompanied the theatrical release of Wreck-It Ralph. It is the story of a young man and a young woman who fall in love at first sight, are separated, but then find each other again thanks to paper airplanes and the wind. All this takes place on a single day before lunch.