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2010 Academy Award—nominated Animated Short Films 

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There's a rather macabre common thread to the very entertaining and charmingly off-kilter 2010 Oscar-nominated animated short films. Even Wallace and Gromit (pictured) dance with danger in A Matter of Loaf and Death. The duo run a busy bakery set up like a Rube Goldberg contraption, and Gromit fears for his partner's life as one-by-one, the town's bakers are mysteriously toasted. Creator Nick Park (Chicken Run) already has collected four Oscars with the pair, and this frenetic stop-animation caper could put more icing on the cake. From a Spanish studio partially owned by Antonio Banderas comes The Lady and the Reaper, a fast and furious, eight minute, dialogue-free battle between the Grim Reaper — just trying to do his job — and a preening super doctor, each focused on his professional obligation to keep a sweet old woman on his side of death's door. But she also has an agenda and the last laugh. The spinster in Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty makes her own menacing nod to Grimm's fairy tales as she tucks in her granddaughter. She can barely contain herself from hijacking Sleeping Beauty's tale with the inclusion of an elderly and lesser-known fairy who was not liked by the younger fairies because she "smelled of bed sheets" and "lacked muscle tone."

  Odd characters also run amok in a cafe in French nominee French Roast. It starts as an ironic tableau about a wild-haired beggar shunned by a snob who hasn't yet realized he's lost his wallet and can't pay his bill. But the little parable devolves into a far more bizarre and unpredictable settling of accounts.

  The final nominee is Logorama, which in spite of an obvious premise is a wild ride through an incarnation of Los Angeles exclusively populated by corporate and institutional logos and product mascots. Bouncing yellow AOL men walk the streets. Mustachioed Pringles chip buskers get fresh with an Esso waitress. Shoney's Big Boy is an obnoxious punk, and Ronald McDonald is a machine gun-toting maniac, which seems to reference a massacre at a California McDonalds in 1984. Scenes also seem to ape familiar films, such as the bookending diner setting from Pulp Fiction. Far from overkill, the use of product placement and visual puns seems to explode in ever more grand and poignant ways. Logorama is full of jarring malevolence and is the most unconventional of the entries.

  The showcase also includes three other films not in the Oscar nominee pool. It's an excellent collection of shorts, most of them less than 10 minutes in length. Presented by the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS). Tickets $8 general admission, $6 NOFS members. — Will Coviello

2010 Academy Award—Nominated Animated Short Films

2:30 p.m. Fri.-Thu., Feb. 19-25

Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.neworleansfilmfest.com

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