|Pixar's Lifted, about an alien-in-training, is up for an Oscar Sunday night.|
The categories for short films at the Academy Awards have traditionally been the make-or-break ones for office Oscar pools, since they’ve usually been a straight guess. Very few people outside of the Los Angeles city limits would have had an opportunity to see them prior to awards night.
This has changed in recent years with the advent of the Internet and its online streaming ability that is ideally suited for short subjects.
In many cases, you still can’t see all of the movies, but you can at least get a glimpse. Such is the case with Best Animated Shorts, which looks to be particularly competitive this year.
The Animated World Network is offering handy little clips of the five contenders: Pixar’s Lifted, Disney’s The Little Matchgirl, Fox’s No Time for Nuts, the NFB’s The Danish Poet and the Hungarian entry, Maestro.
The most curious of the lot is Pixar’s Lifted, the first film directed by movie sound ace Gary Rydstrom, the man behind many of the memorable noises in the Star Wars prequels, Finding Nemo, Terminator 2 and many other blockbusters.
It’s a story about a rookie space alien who has is being tested for his ability to abduct humans. He’s using some kind of tractor beam, the kind seen in the cheesiest of sci-fi movies, and he’s not very good at it. An unimpressed examiner sits by him with a clipboard, grading him on his lifting skills. There’s a Lifted page at the Pixar website that shows how it was made.
Word on it is good to win the Oscar on Sunday, if only because Rydstrom has many friends in the industry. Which made me wonder why it is that Pixar hasn’t seen fit to put it out for public consumption yet, either online or off. It was shown for three nights in September at an L.A. theatre to qualify for the Oscars and it’s part of a road show of Oscar-nominated shorts that Magnolia Pictures is taking to select U.S. cities. But most people won’t be able to see Lifted until June 29, when it will be released along with Ratatouille, the next Pixar feature.
This struck me as an awfully long time to wait for Lifted and odd that a 2007 release should be considered for the 2006 Oscar year, but apparently it’s not without precedent.
A Pixar spokeswoman says the company goes by the production date, not the release date. Last year it was nominated for the short One Man Band, which didn’t arrive in theatres until June 2006, when it was attached to the Pixar feature Cars. The same strategy is being used for the Lifted/Ratatouille combo. “It won’t change, whether we do win the Oscar — knock on wood — or we don’t,” she said.