Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Arthouse Advisory: This year’s Oscar-nominated animated films are creative and compelling, but also are for adult eyes

“Robin Robin”

It’s happened again.

This year’s lineup for Oscar-nominated animated shorts is not kid-friendly (except for “Robin Robin”). Not only are the majority of the films not kid-friendly, but two have major warnings for very adult content.

It is an interesting trend, as many people still see animated films as cartoons solely made for kids, but filmmakers have been stretching and defying those boundaries for years.

Content warnings aside, it’s an extremely compelling program. Each film has a different emotional pull—from hilarious to disturbing to heartwarming—and a different animation style, from cel animation sketches to stop-motion to 3D digital animation. One film has photorealistic characters except for over-emphasized faces and stroke marks for shadows. One features a shiny ceramic character and her wool-felted dog.

The storylines are pretty diverse, as well. “Bestia” shows a horrifying, beautifully symbolic depiction of a woman who works as a secret police agent in the former military dictatorship of Chile. “Robin Robin” is an overbearingly adorable story of a robin who is raised by a family of rats and just wants to be a rat herself. “Boxballet” depicts an unexpected relationship between a boxer and a ballerina. “The Windshield Wiper” is… well, it’s hard to pinpoint what the film is about as it’s about contrasts, contradictions and happenstances, and seeks to answer the question, “What is love?”

And then there’s “Affairs of the Art,” which is this reviewer’s favorite of the bunch. “Affairs of the Art” is irreverent, lighthearted and hilarious. Directed by Joanna Quinn, the film is narrated by a character named Beryl, a factory worker in her late 50s who is obsessed with drawing and wants to be a famous artist. She details all of the obsessions in her family, going from family member to family member. The film will make you cringe continuously, while simultaneously warming your heart with its off-kilter energy. Beryl, who has been the star of several of Quinn’s other short films, is the everywoman trying to make something of herself. Her facial expressions will make you absolutely fall in love with her.

Will it have a chance of winning “Best Animated Short?” Maybe, though historically, the winner has been kid-friendly—an irony, given the direction that the category has been trending. It warms the heart to know that filmmakers keep making these amazing animations despite that caveat.

The animated shorts program will play alongside the live action and documentary shorts programs at Midtown Cinema. If you’re a grownup—make sure to catch them all.

Midtown Cinema is located at 250 Reily St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit


March Events At Midtown Cinema

Down in Front! riffs on

“The Wasp Woman” (1959)

Friday, March 11, 9:30 p.m.


National Theatre Live

“King Lear”

Sunday, March 13, 5 p.m.


Sunday, March 20, 5 p.m.


3rd in the Burg Movie Night

“Airplane” (1970)

Friday, March 18, 9:30 p.m.


Red Carpet Evening

Including reception and Oscars watch party

Sunday, March 27


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