The Pixar shorts have the same amazing ability to wow us as Pixar’s greatest animated films; they just do it in a shorter amount of time. So while we’re all excited about ‘Toy Story 3’ hitting theaters and becoming the biggest movie of the summer, I’m actually a tad more excited about Pixar’s latest animated short film, ‘Day & Night’, an experiment in 2D and 3D animation. I have a feeling it would make this list of the best Pixar shorts that have won the Academy Award for best animated short film or at least make the list of nominees, but it will be a little while before I know for sure. In the meantime, check out some of Pixar’s best animated short films:
Best Pixar Shorts: Academy Award Best Animated Short Film Winners
Tin Toy (1988) – So it’s not one of Pixar’s best animated shorts story-wise, but where would ‘Toy Story’ be without this tale of a terrifying baby and the tin toy it terrorizes? The CGI animation was incredible for its time (even though the baby was a bit creepy), and you’ve got to love how the tin toy’s feelings about being a plaything change in the end. I guess all toys have the same need to be loved, no matter how dangerous, destructive (or drooly) their owner may be. This Pixar animated short was included with the second VHS release of ‘Toy Story’.
Geri’s Game (1997) – This is one of my favorite Pixar shorts, a fun, fantastical tale about an elderly man playing a chess game against himself. In the short released along with ‘A Bug’s Life’, Geri’s two different personalities, a chuckling aggressive type and a glasses-wearing quiet type that’s not terribly good at chess, square off against one another for the ultimate prize: a pair of dentures. It’s one of Pixar’s most creative animated short films with a funny ending showing how Geri outsmarts himself (If only we could all have so much fun alone).
For the Birds (2000) – Another of Pixar’s best animated short films worthy of winning the Academy Award for best animated short film shows how excluding those that are different from your little clique can backfire, especially if your little clique consists of lots of little birds on a wire and the bird you’re excluding is big and heavy. Like the film that it was released with, ‘Monsters, Inc.’, it has a great message about the importance of getting along with one another, no matter how different we may be (because no one wants to end up being a featherless laughing stock).
Best Pixar Shorts: Academy Award Best Animated Short Film Nominees
Luxo Jr. (1986) – The earliest of the Pixar short films to make the list of Academy Award best animated short film nominees was also the first computer-animated short to receive that honor. But, more importantly, this tale of a tiny desk lamp’s playful ways (which includes a pretty impressive balancing act on a squishy bouncy ball) is responsible for Pixar’s iconic hopping logo (although the short wasn’t released with a Pixar film in theaters until ‘Toy Story 2’ came out). Who knew that two unassuming desk lamps could be the start of something so big?
Mike’s New Car (2002) – Another of Pixar’s animated shorts released along with ‘Monsters, Inc.’ features that film’s loveable closet-dwellers going for a cruise in Mike’s new car (which looks pretty awesome). Unfortunately, the six-wheeler has a defective seatbelt and way too many buttons for poor Sulley, and it’s not long before Mike’s new set of wheels meets its untimely end. The moral of the story? Too much technology can be dangerous (unless it’s used to make great animated short films, of course).
Boundin’ (2003) – One of Pixar’s most incredible animated shorts was released with ‘The Incredibles’, but it doesn’t feature humans with rare superpowers; it’s about a rare animal known as the jackalope that helps a wool-less sheep get back on its feet with a lesson in “boundin” (getting up whenever you fall down). It’s got a great moral and is loaded with dancin’ critters, so it’s hard not to love this cute film and its sheered sheep star.
One Man Band (2005) – In one of Pixar’s most musical animated shorts, we get to witness a battle of one-man bands as they compete for a little girl’s coin, which she had originally intended to throw in a fountain to make a wish. You’ve got to love their amazing musical machines, but it’s the fun ending to this little film (which I prefer to the movie it was released with, ‘Cars’) that makes it really impressive (I won’t give the ending away for those who haven’t seen it). Here’s a hint, though: the moral of it could be to never fight over money.
Lifted (2006) – Here’s one of Pixar’s best sci-fi animated shorts, a fun little flick about alien abduction released with ‘Ratatouille’. Adorable little green guy Stu is taking part in an alien test which involves abducting a sleeping farmer under the watchful eye of his instructor. Unfortunately, Stu can’t seem to manipulate the many controls it takes to operate the tractor beam the farmer is trapped in, with disastrous (but hilarious) results. And when Stu’s instructor masterfully cleans up his mess and tries to make his pupil feel better by letting him pilot the ship, things get much worse for the snoozing farmer (who is an incredibly heavy sleeper). The moral here? If you’re going to get abducted by an alien, hopefully it’s not a student abductor like Stu.
Presto (2008) – And from sci-fi we move on to magic in one of my favorite Pixar animated short films, which was actually released with Pixar’s fantastic full-length sci-fi flick, ‘WALL-E’. A magician is attempting to perform the ever-popular trick of pulling a rabbit out of a top hat, however, the bunny is hungry and not in the mood to cooperate. What results are antics reminiscent of old Bugs Bunny cartoons as the magician and his little helper antagonize each other using magic and classic gags like the old finger-in-the-electrical socket trick. Fortunately for both of them, the mayhem on stage has a magical effect on the audience (as does the animated short that they star in).
So will ‘Day & Night’ soon be added to the list of Pixar’s best animated shorts that have become Academy Award best animated short film nominees and winners? I’m off to see for myself if I think it has a shot, and I’ll be sure to review this short slice of animation that just might be better than ‘Toy Story 3’.