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No Mickey Mouse Films Here 

Animated shorts is the Oscar's most imaginative category

Last year, Disney won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film with "Paperboy," a short, visually pleasing and, not surprisingly, predictable, easy-to-like, love story. It beat out other clever entries from much smaller crews, like "Fresh Guacamole," a quick-witted visual treat from a one-man animating team.

It hardly seems fair. Again, this year, Disney has submitted Get A Horse! As likable by toddlers and toothless geriatrics, this short film was directed by the same woman who directed The Simpsons—The Movie and debuted to millions as a preview for the blockbuster Frozen.

With such a pedigree, it might be assumed this is the best entry of the five animated shorts nominated for an Oscar, and currently being shown at theaters around the country, along with three "highly recommended" shorts. But that assessment is incorrect.

Likable, yes, but nowhere as aesthetically clever as two other entries, both produced by newcomers and small crews. In particular, Mr. Hublot, produced by two French men, is spellbindingly great. Set in an elaborate, grimy, industrial futurist city, complete with leather cars that look as if they are stitched footballs, and dogs that are more appliance than a furry friend, Mr. Hublot is an egg-like character who wears goggles and pajamas, and has acute OCD that keeps him polishing framed photographs and flipping light switches before adopting afore-mentioned toaster dog.

Like Mr. Hublot, Feral also creates a mesmerizingly magical world. Produced by a Rhode Island Institute of Technology student, the film also has no dialogue. Shadowy and simply, the setting seems to be some pre-industrial town, in which a raised-by-wolves child is brought to be civilized. Absolutely beautiful and so much more nuanced than the Disney entry, Feral draws on deep-seated emotions and does what animated films should do: Shows, but doesn't tell us how to feel.

Tin Pan Theatre

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