In somewhat of an upset, the French short "Mr. Hublot" won the 2014 Oscar for Best Animated Short. The animated short character has a storied history, giving Walt Disney his final (posthumous) Oscar, so winning it is quite an honor for any animator.
Here is the synopsis:
The eccentric, isolated Mr. Hublot finds his carefully ordered world disrupted by the arrival of Robot Pet."Mr. Hublot" is a take-off on the classic film "Brazil" and has that same dark atmosphere. According to co-Director Alexandre Espigares, one of the brains behind it, says in the trailer:
"Mr. Hublot" is the story of a character with OCD who eventually will, during the course of the movie, will adopt a little dog, a little pet, and learn to live with that dog and pet and to love that animal."
"Mr. Hublot" faced stiff competition from Disney's "Get a Horse," which was created with the full resources of the Mouse Factory behind it and used iconic Disney characters that nobody else has the rights to use. Not only that, it was shown with smash hit "Frozen" and thus probably has been seen by more theatergoers around the world than any other short in history. For any independent short to beat that kind of film out is a true wonder. "Mr. Hublot" managed to do it, which is a real boost to independent animators everywhere.
The problem with "Get a Horse," to the tiny extent there was one, is that it is just Too Much. A wildly wonderful technical achievement, it had Too Much crammed into it. It is a bit too frantic in its appearance, at least to this viewer. Now, that isn't so terrible, and it marks its animation crew as among the best in the business, but the intense flow was a bit burdensome unless you had drunk a gallon of coffee before watching it - especially in 3D.
"Mr. Hublot" has sterling animation and is a joy to watch. It is a bit slow in the beginning but picks up speed as it goes along, which is not a bad thing at all ("Get a Horse" kind of starts out fast and zooms all the way).
French animation is often overlooked due to the strong corporate work out of the US and Japan. However, there is a lot of very original animation coming out of France, such as "The Triplets of Belleville," which merits respect.
The film was written by Laurent Witz, who co-directed with Alexandre Espigares, so congratulations to them and best of luck with all future endeavors. We hope to see more fine work from you in the future!
All of the Oscar shorts are now streaming on iTunes and Amazon. It may also be in a theater near you. Below is the trailer.