Oscar's 2014 Animation Shorts is an embarrassment of riches

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In English, French, and Japanese with English subtitles. Unrated.

There’s an embarrassment of riches in this rare public presentation of five killer toons nominated in the animation category for a Best Short Oscar.

Animism meets animé in the most conventional-looking item, Shuhei Morita’s “Possessions”. Rendered in a CGI–assisted blend of flat manga lines and Hokusai-type Japanese wood-block prints, the 14-minute film singles out a peasant craftsman as he repairs the tattered remnants found in an abandoned shrine, to appease the spirits dwelling within them.

Other objects inhabit Luxembourg’s 11-minute “Mr Hublot”, a steampunk-styled look at a future filled with robotic creations, including a lonely number cruncher with goggles and bad OCD. Presumably inspired by Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot with bits of the Hubble telescope thrown in, our neurotic hero spies a nuts-and-bolts puppy cowering amidst traffic that resembles First World War tanks. The problem with puppies is that they grow.

Daniel Sousa’s wordless, 11-minute “Feral” follows a boy raised by wolves and unable to adjust to the weird rites of human society. The U.S.–based filmmaker, working with a near-monochromatic charcoal-and-pencil palette, has already won numerous prizes for this and his previous “Minotaur”.

The biggest crowd-pleaser is the delightful “Room on the Broom”, a half-hour kid’s-book adaptation made for British TV by veterans Max Land (“The Gruffalo”) and Jan Lachauer. If the colour-rich illustration doesn’t grab, you’ll certainly be captivated by narrator Simon Pegg’s tale of a witch (Gillian Anderson) who picks up animal hitchhikers voiced by Rob Brydon, David Walliams, Martin Clunes, and (most delightfully) Sally Hawkins.

Great stuff, but all topped by Disney’s mind-blowing “Get a Horse”, in which Simpsons veteran Lauren MacMullan grafts startling 3-D colour images onto a B&W, 1930s-style Mickey Mouse cartoon (newly created by Eric Goldberg), voiced by Uncle Walt himself. It’s meta-tooning of the highest order, and despite being paired with current hit Frozen, this six-minute blast of amiably violent anarchy owes as much to the intuitive surrealism of Marv Newland and Paul Driessen as it does to the old-timers of Anaheim.

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