Film and TV

Best of Build-A-Brickbuster: The LEGO movies that made us laugh, cry and nod politely

This summer, dozens of grown adults spent hours upon hours of valuable time playing with LEGOs toward the goal of winning mild fame and glory in Build-A-Brickbuster Pixelfest, an international film festival and contest celebrating the art of making stop-motion animation with tiny toys, held over the weekend of August 13-14 in Broomfield, Colorado.

And the results, frankly, were stunning -- sometimes poignant, more often weird, always fascinating. It was no easy task to pick the grand-prize winner, and even though underground animation king Bill Plympton was on hand to make the call, there's no doubt that all the finalists, in one way or another, deserved it. (Luckily, they also all got prizes). And so, in their honor -- and if you had the misfortune of not being able to make the festival or the awards ceremony this weekend -- here are their works:

Best Animation: Bunnies: The Ancient Altercation, by Spencer Olson Long ago, in an ancient land, a few brave bunnies shot the shit out of each other with guns -- and it looked awesome. This is basically a protracted LEGO fight scene, but give the man credit for creating suspense with a constant boinking noise in the background.

Tastiest: Pancake Island, by Dylan Woodley Foremost a great example of the arresting visual style of stop-motion with miniatures, Pancake Island starts out silly and remains that way, but starts to also get pretty strange about halfway through.

Best Directors: Directors' Cut, by Paul Hollingsworth It's not so much the animation as the spot-on Randy Newman send-up in Directors' Cut, which does what we imagine is a pretty accurate job recounting the making of Cowboys and Aliens.

Best Drama: Small World, by Jake Van de Walle The drama in Small World doesn't necessarily make a whole lot of sense -- the part where there's a fire and the part where the kid gets intentionally run over by a car, for example, were kind of confusing -- but considering the filmmaker is 12 years old, this is pretty remarkable stuff. Hell, it's pretty remarkable stuff no matter what his age.

Best Music Video: Power Trio, with music from ViBRATiONLAND This video is better than most professional music videos -- we'd much rather watch this than Katy Perry's "ET," at any rate. Awesomest part: the levers on the drummer.

And the winner is: Chosen by legendary animator and grand judge Bill Plympton, the winner is... wait for it... Pancake Island, for the grand prize of, you know, having been chosen for an award by Bill Plympton.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte