Shaun Tan Wins Oscar Award for Best Animated Short

March 1, 2011

In a lovely bit of surprise, award-winning artist Shaun Tan and his film The Lost Thing took home the Oscar Award on Sunday for Best Animated Short.

I first encountered Tan's work in The Arrival, a wordless and gorgeous graphic novel on one man's journey across a turbulent and fantastical world to find a better life for his family. Echoing aspects of the immigrant experience, the story takes some inspiration from Tan's parents (his father came to Australia from Malaysia in 1960 to study architecture) as well as the greater and little known history of early Chinese living in the then remote areas of Western Australia.

The Lost Thing continues similar themes of belonging and "stranger in a strange land," as a boy discovers an odd-looking creature at the beach and attempts to find a home for it, only to meet with indifference from those around him.

Watch a fan-inspired video for The Arrival and The Lost Thing trailer.


Speaking of immigrants, stories often focus on the parents' struggles, but those struggles are almost always for their children. On that note, a shout-out to PS 22, the amazing kids from the largest elementary school in Staten Island, who closed down the Oscars with their delivery of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." For those unfamiliar with the story, these kids -- coming from a wide cross-section of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds -- and their hard-working music teacher have become internet sensations, singing renditions of popular songs and performing with artists such as Passion Pit, Queen Latifah and Kylie Minogue.

Check out their spirited rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework," as well as their awesome jam session with Matisyahu ("One Fine Day") and acoustic version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" ("Children get older, I'm getting older too"). If the last one doesn't make you a little teary, you must have a heart of tin (which is, incidentally, the metal alloy making up the bulk of the Oscar statuette).