Short and Sweet: Why You Should Watch & Rank Short Films
Truly one of the more unloved inclusions of Flickchart are short films. So unloved, that many people refuse to include them on their lists. It’s not too hard to see why, as they often aren’t that extraordinary and can be much harder to remember in the long-term. With significantly less content, they are often much tougher to rank against features, and many people will debate on whether they should actually be considered movies or not. Despite having my own problems with trying to rank them properly, I include them in my list, mostly for vain reasons.
You see, ranking shorts makes my total number of movies higher, which in turn makes me look very important to people around the internet. When women see the number of films I’ve ranked on Flickchart, they can hardly contain themselves as they assume my passions can’t stop just at film. Readers of my blog posts might disagree with a point I’ve made, then they see how many movies I’ve ranked and say to themselves, “Well, this guy has to know what he’s talking about. You can’t watch over 1800 movies without learning something.” This allows them to reconsider their position and come to terms with how well thought-out my arguments are, and how baseless their disagreements with me were. That could not happen if I didn’t have those 50 or so extra movies that I’ve added by ranking shorts.
Hyperbole aside, I have watched a decent amount of shorts lately and decided to write about it. It’s tough to find suggestions for shorts to watch. Also, some of these shorts are truly great and deserve to be seen by more people. Since many of these films are streaming for free online, this is a very easy way to ratchet up your number of movies ranked and in turn, your allure to the opposite sex.
One last note: I guess I should mention that I, like most people, consider a short any movie under 45 minutes in length. Many people probably knew that, but it’s good information to know where the cutoff is.
It’s probably best to start with Vincent. It was made by Tim Burton, it’s 6 minutes long, and it’s really easy to find. You can either find it on your The Nightmare Before Christmas DVD, or YouTube. It’s also very entertaining, containing Burton’s deft mix of humor and Gothic themes in a stop-motion style that obviously inspired many of the aforementioned Nightmare Before Christmas characters. This is probably the most accessible short film I’ll talk about, and probably the best one to start your journey into the world of short films. Vincent is currently #456 on my Flickchart.
For my money, no one used the short film format better than Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd. Their use of incredible stunts and slapstick comedy make their movies much more entertaining and memorable than many other films made during that time. Even though their story-lines were often simple and the film techniques crude, they had a comedic brilliance that suited the niche of short films perfectly. While all three are great, Keaton’s heavy focus on stunt-work made his shorts fantastic, while Chaplin’s superior storytelling didn’t truly allow him to rise him above the pack until he ventured into feature films. That’s why I’m recommending Keaton’s One Week, even though you can’t really go wrong with any of them. One Week is currently #655 on my Flickchart.
No I didn’t forget the “the” between Winnie and Pooh. This is the Soviet version of the honey loving bear. While some English speakers might throw a “the” in there to make it more pleasant-sounding to their ears, I prefer the harsher Winnie Pooh. This is the first of a trilogy of short films for the character, and all three are very enjoyable – others are Winnie Pooh Goes Visiting and Winnie Pooh and a Busy Day. I never cared much for America’s version of Winnie the Pooh, but found myself quite tickled by this one. It’s hard to put my finger on why I like the Soviet version more. I did prefer the voice actors and loved that Tigger wasn’t in any of them. I never understood why that trouble-making tiger was so popular. He was an overconfident blowhard that bounced around like an idiot and annoyed most of the other characters. I found him insufferable, and I can only assume the Soviets felt the same way. Winnie Pooh is currently #1119 on my Flickchart.
A Disney short that feels like it came straight out of Fantasia, The Old Mill is a look at how a variety of animals live through a stormy night in or around a mill that happens to be their home. Besides admiring the animation and the relationship between music and imagery, there really isn’t much to this one. People who enjoy Disney’s early animated features should very much enjoy this however, as it’s basically a testing ground for them to see what they can accomplish in the medium. This is a DVD extra on Bambi, but it also shouldn’t be too hard to find online. The Old Mill is currently #1718 on my Flickchart.
If you’ve seen and enjoyed 12 Monkeys, or if you haven’t but enjoy time-travel films, you should watch La jetée. 12 Monkeys expanded upon the story of a prisoner who is sent throughout time in attempts to save the present that originated in La jetée. It also added a little more to the love story and shares the twist at the end. Despite how good of a story it is, many people may be put off by how the story in La jetée is told. It’s almost completely a montage of still-photos, with voice-over. It’s only 28 minutes long, but that’s long enough for some to be put off by the style. This shouldn’t be missed by any fans of science fiction. La jetée is currently #989 on my Flickchart.
Surrealism is a funny thing. It seems people either really like it, or are completely put off by how odd it is. I am in the camp of being put off. I prefer my movies to have story lines and well-defined characters. Mostly though, surreal films make me feel incredibly dumb. I’ll watch one, read critiques and explanations of it, and still not be able to see how people formed their conclusions of it. Too me, it’s often just a mess of things happening and for whatever reason I cannot link the randomness to philosophies or other symbolic ideals. So why did I include a surreal short like Darkness/Light/Darkness? Because I can actually stand watching it when it’s only about 10 minutes long, and the animation used here is incredible. Also, I can’t help but like the weirdness of this short, especially when a certain something comes knocking at the door. Darkness/Light/Darkness is currently #906 on my Flickchart.
Rejected is by far the funniest short I will talk about, and arguably one of the most seen. It was an early internet “viral video” when it was released – partly because it’s so funny, and partly because the animation at the end is amazing. The humor seems random, but has an underlying sarcastic thread of self-reflection that ties every scene together. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2001, and while it didn’t win, It was certainly funnier than what did. To prove this point, I just watched what did win, Father and Daughter, and it was 8 minutes of Oscar-bait that didn’t make me laugh once. My recommendation stands. Rejected is currently #453 on my Flickchart.
A 5 minute short by Nick Park, creator of the much more well-known Wallace and Gromit series. Creature Comforts is a mockumentary where zoo animals are giving candid interviews about life in a zoo. It’s quite funny, with most of the animals giving cloaked dialogue about how living in captivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s funny, but never quite hilarious – which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. It’s about as entertaining a short as you could ask for, and a viewer of any age can enjoy it. Creatures Comforts is currently #214 on my Flickchart.
One of my favorite things is when a movie can show sadness in a way that’s realistic, not clichéd, and at times – beautiful. Wes Anderson has perfected this in his films. While Beginners, Adaptation, and the first half of Office Space have filmmakers and actors who know how to create legitimate sadness, More is the best short I’ve seen bring the melancholy to screen, and I absolutely loved it. It’s an incredibly powerful film for only being 6 minutes in length, and it has a great soundtrack. More is currently #193 on my Flickchart.
It would be a shame if I didn’t include at least one documentary since so many shorts are just that. This also happens to be the most obscure movie I’ve talked about, with only 9 other people having ranked it on Flickchart to date. I chose Ryan because it’s about the animator Ryan Larkin, who was himself a part of a few extremely obscure shorts. It also has a very creative mix of animation and live action to add some visual style to the interviews. It’s not perfect, and there are better short documentaries out there, but it’s still very much worth your time. Ryan is currently #916 on my Flickchart.
These shorts barely scratch the surface of what is out there you can see. Even if you didn’t like any of these, you are almost assuredly going to find something you like. Pixar, Wallace and Gromit, and early Looney Tunes – yes Looney Tunes are technically short films – are almost universally enjoyed. You can even watch Michael Jackson’s extended Thriller video, which I believe counts as a short film since it indeed has a story and the majority of the 13 minutes lacks the actual song.
So what are you waiting for? Why watch a feature film when you can watch the 9+ shorts I’ve mentioned here in roughly the same amount of time. Not only do you get a higher number for your total movies ranked, but you get the illustrious prestige and internet credibility of having seen things like the Soviet Winnie Pooh films. Win, win.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Ryan as sirstuckey on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.