A group of friends and I usually have an Oscar Party. We celebrate friendship, and movies, and gluttony, and laugh at the Botox and collagen. We critique every dress and add our own commentary. To add a bit more fun to the evening we compete in an Oscar Pool. I’ve never won. I have no idea how the Academy goes about picking the winners, but it’s clear whoever “they” are, we are not in sync.
My favorite category in the Oscar Pool is Best Animated Short. Every year, I spend more time selecting the winner of this small category than any of the others combined. Don’t ask me why I’ve latched onto this particular category as wholly mine but I have. Maybe it fits a short attention span? Or reminds me of my childhood and Saturday morning cartoons?
When the nominations were announced in 2002, I agonized over my choices for days. I scoured the internet to find snippets of each nominee so I could make an educated decision. In my heart, I loved one in particular. The Chubb Chubbs. I watched it, giggled over it…in short (no pun intended) I thoroughly enjoyed it. But my track record was horrible. I knew no matter what I thought, there was no way the Academy would select the same thing I would. So my strategy? Pick the opposite! I made a selection and turned in my picks, promptly forgetting what I’d written down.
A couple of weeks passed.
The night of the party arrived, and then came the moment they announced the winner for Best Animated Short. We waited.
And the envelope goes to…
I jumped up out of my chair and screamed. “Yes! Yes! I got it! I finally picked it!” I did a happy dance. Literally. My friends stared at me in amused confusion.
One of them checked her chart. “No you didn’t.”
“Yes I did, I knew it would win. I loved it!”
“But you didn’t pick it. Look.” She showed me the chart containing all of our picks. Mike’s New Car glared out at me.
I slapped my head. Right! I’d tried to outsmart the Academy. And, true to my losing streak, they’d outsmarted my outsmarting. They’d selected the very thing I wanted but refused to put down!
This year I began once again to hunt down each nominee for Best Animated Short. The first one on the list was The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Have you seen it? Probably not. I have no idea where they even show these things. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. After I watched this movie, I didn’t even research the others. I wrote the title down on my list and smiled, content with my choice.
This movie spoke to my heart in a way no other animated film ever has. It’s about the power of books, and the power of Story. It shows everything I’ve always felt about reading. I read to escape, to experience another world and another way of being. I read to learn, to grow, to discover myself. To be transported. To be inspired. To be. That’s it. Just…to be.
Books can take you away and allow you to live in ways that transcend life itself. And when it’s time to move on to the next great adventure? Books will remain. They’ll tell the next generation about ours, and about how truly awe inspiring life was, is, and will be. They are our past, our present, and our future. They are us…magnified.
That’s what this movie said to me.
That’s why I picked it.
And this time? This time I got it right!
Please, watch…enjoy…and then go grab a book.