Grannymation? Did someone say Grannymation?
This year, three of the five Oscar-contending animated shorts involve women of a certain age and uncertain life-span. Respectively, they spook a grandchild ("Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty"), unintentionally elude Death ("The Lady and the Reaper"); and are the soul of charity ("French Roast"). Who says there are no movie roles for women over 80?
The 2010 Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films (dare you to say that in one breath) are in town, and they're a delight.
Among the charming entries from France, Ireland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, my favorite is "A Matter of Loaf and Death," Nick Park's mystery starring Wallace & Gromit.
For those unfamiliar with the clay-animation heroes and multiple Oscar winners, Wallace is a veddy English gentleman with an eye for the ladies and a tummy for bread and cheese, and Gromit is his beagle-ish sidekick, the brains of the outfit.
In this 30-minute gem, the funniest movie duo since Laurel & Hardy have converted their home into a successful granary/bakery. They're making a nice living, but Gromit is mildly concerned that there is, shall we say, a "cereal killer" doing away with bakers.
While his master gets dough-eyed for a gal named Piella, Gromit solves London's greatest murder mystery since Jack the Ripper. Put an X next to this on your Oscar ballot.
That's the best, here's the rest.
From Ireland comes "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty," Nicky Phelan's fractured fairy tale about a decidedly uncuddly Gran. She tells her daughter's daughter a comically frightening, and not entirely coherent, version of the legend in which the heroine is an older woman taking her revenge on young beauties. Interesting use of both 3-D CGI animation and 2-D hand-painted sequences.
France has two nominated entries. "Logorama," set in a Los Angeles made entirely of corporate logos, is the more inventive. A send-up of both heist films and corporate branding, Logorama is a world where a deranged Ronald McDonald stalks the Michelin Man.
Set in a Parisian cafe, "French Roast" is a beautifully rendered short, but its artistry is better developed than its story. Its use of mirrors and fixed perspective is very compelling; its story about a man who lost his wallet and a beggar demanding money less so.
Produced by Antonio Banderas, Spain's "The Lady and the Reaper" is a charming tale of a widow who would like to join her husband in the hereafter and the surgeon determined to save her life, despite the Grim Reaper's best efforts.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey
Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/