My 2014 favorites films are here. I'm partial to representational; uplifting, humorous, or sexy; narrative shorts. From recalling the previous years' award winners, this is the festival audience's preference as well. That bias is perhaps partly because it is hard to present a new aspect of important but well-explored topics such as abuse, genocide, and aging; and also because it is very easy to make overwrought films on those topics.
Yet, this year many of my favorites were atypical. In those cases, they took on difficult subjects with maturity and grace. My favorites usually overlap heavily with the festival award winners, however this year only two appeared on that list and my (tied) top two choices won no awards in competition at all.
The Best Film of Annecy 2014These two radically different films impressed me greatly. Both displayed mastery of the medium, expert pacing, and bent in unexpected directions. I consider them tied for "best short".
(Piotr Dumala) - A beautifully executed film for its animation, music, pacing, and maturity, with deeply disturbing content: human forms applied to animal (titually hippotamus, but most likely elephant seal) behaviors, which are deplorably not so implausible on human forms. It is important and an intelligent combination of beauty and ugliness directed with enough space for the audience to draw their own conclusions and parallels. http://www.fumistudio.com/
I recommend all of these films, which are refreshingly innovative and have some great moments. I'm a bit critical of the ones near the bottom because I think that they have flaws, whereas the others are solid all of the way through. All deserve viewing and discussion.
(Tomek Ducki) - A short film about swimming and aging and friendship. The animation is what sets this apart, with two different graphic-design styles of clean lines and gradients. Trailer
Kaly Live Dub "Allaxis" (Thomas Fourniret) - A high energy music video with impeccable, anime-influenced animation. This is at the bare edge of narrative, but I didn't mind one bit. It is everything cool from heist movies and road movies at once. A Scanner Darkly should have been this good.
FMX 2014 Rugbybugs (Carl Schröter, Martin Lapp, Emanuel Fuchs, Fabian Fricke and Matthias Bäuerle/Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg) - This trailer for FMX is an impressive piece of student work with great rendering.
Supermoine Holypop (Supamonks Studio) - A beverage commercial (with a NSFW heavy metal theme song) with terrific blockbuster-style movie rendering of medieval mayhem. I'd like to make a video game that looks like this.
Louis (Mathilde Parquet/École des Metiers du Cinema d'Animation) - An afternoon exploration turned horror movie reminiscent of David Lynch.
Marilyn Myller (Mikey Please) - A well done styrofoam stop motion about a styrofoam stop motion artist. It has a typical but well-executed rendition of the modern artist's journey and uses a fun, different medium. Trailer, Behind the Scenes
Beauty (Rino Stefano Tagliafierro) - Oil paintings subtly animated. This is a good idea, although the execution doesn't quite work for me in this case. The animation and composition simply aren't up to the quality of the original images, so the film tars itself a bit as uneven and exploitative of its sources. Yet, I hope to see more of this. Some styles, like sand art, are becoming overused and this was a truly fresh direction.
Morgan McGuire (@morgan3d) is a professor of Computer Science at Williams College, visiting professor at NVIDIA Research, and a professional game developer. He is the author of the Graphics Codex, an essential reference for computer graphics now available in iOS and Web Editions.