Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Oscar shorts

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When the Academy Awards are televised, these shorts will be just an excuse to show off some starlet and her gown, but the world might be better entertained if this three-hour program were broadcast instead. In the animated category the hands-down best is Anthony Lucas's mostly black-and-white The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, which marries the silhouette animation of Lotte Reiniger to the elegant geometry of 19th-century machinery. Morello, a disgraced navigator of fantastic floating airships, gets a chance to redeem himself by signing on to an expedition with a grasping biologist. But I'm guessing the statuette will go to Bill Plympton's sweet The Fan and the Flower, about a houseplant and a ceiling fan doomed to love each other from afar. Of the live-action shorts the most impressive is Martin McDonagh's Six Shooter, with Brendan Gleeson as a grieving widower who finds himself stuck on a commuter train with an obnoxious Irish lad, though close on its heels are two comic shorts: Rob Pearlstein's Our Time Is Up, about a brusque psychologist (Kevin Pollak) who learns he has six weeks to live, and Sean Ellis's Cashback, about an art student who survives his tedious night shift at a supermarket by stopping time so he can sketch the unsuspecting customers. Gene Siskel Film Center.

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