Kobe Bryant: Five-time NBA champion, Los Angeles Lakers legend, and now, Oscar nominee. Dear Basketball, a short film adapted from a poem Bryant authored upon his retirement from the NBA, has become the first project distributed by Go90 to earn an Academy Award nomination, earning a nod in the Animated Short Film category.
In November 2015, Bryant announced his plan to hang up his sneakers by sharing a verse called ‘Dear Basketball‘ via The Players’ Tribune. Two years after the publication of that article, Bryant teamed up with Believe Entertainment Group to adapt it into a short film. That version of Dear Basketball is defined by the gorgeous, hand-drawn nature of its animations. The entire clip, which runs for about five minutes, can be found on Go90, where it arrived this past December.
“This is beyond the realm of imagination,” said Bryant in a press release. “It means so much that The Academy deemed Dear Basketball worthy of contention. Thanks to the genius of Glen Keane Productions and John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It’s an honor to be on this team.”
Dear Basketball is one of five contenders in the Animated Short Film category, which has often featured work distributed on the internet. Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, for example, is available on Netflix, while PES’ Fresh Guacamole, which has the shortest runtime of any Oscar nominee in history, can be found on YouTube.
Across all of this year’s Oscar nominees, digital platforms found little representation. Though platforms like Netflix and Amazon earned wins in 2017, only Netflix managed a decent showing this time around. Its film Mudbound, set in the Mississippi Delta, earned four nominations, and a pair of Netflix-distributed documentaries — Icarus and Strong Island — were both recognized as well.
A full list of Oscar nominees can be found here.