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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Which film should win the ‘Best Animated Short Film’ award at the 2023 Oscars?

Arts Reporter Caden Gantenbein holds the stance that ‘Ninety-Five Sense’ should win the award, while Arts Reporter Isabella Nekvinda argues for ‘Pachyderme.’

“Ninety-Five Senses”

The “Best Animated Short Film” nominees at the Academy Awards this year brought tough competition for which film deserves to win the award, but the one film that I believe deserves the Oscar and has earned the slot for my personal favorite this year is the short entitled “Ninety-Five Senses.”

Directed by filmmaking couple Jared and Jerusha Hess, a duo who absolutely dominated the production of this piece, the short takes the viewer on a tour of the five senses from the perspective of a seemingly endearing old man named Coy, voiced by Tim Blake Nelson who perfectly fulfilled the southern twang needed for this role.

As the film progresses, a dark twist reveals that Coy is a prisoner on death row. He spins a narrative yarn that operates sequentially, devoting time to each of his senses — touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound — while eating his last meal, which consists of Big Macs, lobster, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and more.

In each sequence, the visuals are animated by different people, giving every moment of the film a captivating style that differs from the next.

Yet, these sequences still felt cohesive as each animator somehow managed to still tie their work in with the other collaborators. This, along with the overarching narration, ties each of these little slices together to make the project feel like a genuine collaboration in the film community.

While some of the other stories had heavier messages, this short managed to feel heartfelt, intimate, and introspective. It is clear that “Ninety-Five Senses” was a project that involved many minds to concoct, and the result is a story that boasts a high level of care and attention.


There is one film I believe deserves the Oscar solely for its ability to portray dissociation and isolation, otherwise to impossible to convey visually: “Pachyderme.”

Created by Stéphanie Clément and produced by Reginald De Guillebon and Marc Ruis, the film was made in France and is narrated in French with English subtitles.

The animated short follows Louise, a 9-year-old girl, as she stays with her grandparents in Providence, Rhode Island. The film cuts between the beauty of Providence during the daytime — with butterflies, tall grass, and opaque blue water — and the anxiety that is brought about by the nighttime.

When the colors are dull, the shadows are heavy, and the lighting is scarce, that’s when Louise notices she is being watched. There are eyes on the ceilings, and floorboards can be heard creaking. Suddenly, as the door opens, she fades into the mattress.

The night terrors Louise faces represent a topic that is often difficult to represent in film, especially animated film, as its audiences often lean younger: Childhood sexual assault at the hands of a trusted adult.

But “Pachyderme” was able to approach this topic in a way few films do. By utilizing visual cues like red light seeping under her door to signify her anxiety for what/who is approaching her room, Clément is able to illustrate the emotions and ranges one often goes through at the hands of abuse while never explicitly detailing the abuse itself.

Another example of this is how Clément has her character fade into the wall to represent the disassociation one often experiences after assault. This is something that is very common for victims of CSA, but rarely is it as successfully executed as in this film.

This film stays with you like a feeling you can’t shake. It is what makes it so important, but, at the same time, unsettling. “Pachyderme” is the clear winner.

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About the Contributor
Caden Gantenbein
Caden Gantenbein, Arts Reporter
Caden Gantenbein is a screenwriting major as well as a film minor. He is a junior starting this fall and this is his first semester at the DI.