|Wild Life by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis|
Is it because the cherished "Members of the Academy" are rich old white dudes who, according to the Los Angeles Times, are 94% white, 77% male and on average 62 years old? Or would it have something to do with the fact that the Academy votes overwhelmingly for white male directors who cast overpaid white guys in the leading roles? With Kathryn Bigelow's big win two years ago, you would think that there might be another woman director in the running. Nope. According to Women and Hollywood, there were apparently more women directors in 1998 than in 2011.
But there is still one category that I'm interested in: Best Animated Short. Yes, I realize that it ranks right up there with the best make-up, gaffer and wardrobe categories for most of you, but I am unabashedly excited about a potential win by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby for Wild Life. This is a story about a remittance man who goes to the Canadian west at the turn of the 20th century when there was little more than gophers and endless prairie. Remittance men were often wayward offspring of wealthy British families who were paid handsomely to stay away after some indiscretion that had tarnished the family's reputation. In Wild Life, the main protagonist plays polo and badminton on the Alberta prairie and drinks himself silly. This remittance man never does ranch as he intended and eventually loses his marbles after a devastatingly cold winter. The remittance men would be the great grandfathers of many westerners of my generation.
Forbis and Tilby use computer generated images and then paint in tempera over each of the thousands of images, that is, 24 per second of animation. The final result is stunning. An Oscar win would also be another reason for our current culture-adverse prime minister not to pull the plug on the National Film Board of Canada.
To see the other contenders for Best Animated Short, click here.