The animated films fall into two subsections: the shorter, cuter entries and the longer, more ambitious nominees. Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty is a one-joke bit about a cranky grandmother, while The Lady and the Reaper recounts a cheeky battle between death and a doctor over the life of a frail old woman. And French Roast is an amusing anecdote about a beggar, a snooty businessman, and a sweet old lady all hanging around the same café. In contrast to those three lightweight trifles, however, the French Logorama is a visually arresting corporate critique: In a parallel-reality Los Angeles, buildings and individuals are nothing but highly recognizable company logos. It's such a clever political commentary that it's disappointing to report that Logorama isn't much more than its inventive satirizing of our brandcentric culture. And then there's Wallace and Gromit, who return in director Nick Park's A Matter of Loaf and Death. For avid W&G fans, Loaf and Death isn't terribly original — again, the dimwitted Wallace unknowingly brings trouble into their home, leaving Gromit to save the day — but Park reconfirms his exceptional filmmaking chops, weaving sight gags, silent comedy, and action set pieces into a coherent whole. It's almost unfair to his fellow nominees that he keeps making such consistently impressive short films — not even most studio directors have his flair for crowd-pleasing entertainments.
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