Oscars 2015 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Short

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

Today is Best Animated Short. That category that you think is really adorable and that you want to watch all the nominees, but then you don’t and you forget about it and then the cycle repeats the following year.

Year Best Animated Film Winners Other Nominees
1931-1932 Flowers and Trees Mickey’s Orphans

It’s Got Me Again!

1932-1933 Three Little Pigs Building a Building

The Merry Old Soul

1934 The Tortoise and the Hare Holiday Land

Jolly Little Elves

1935 Three Orphan Kittens The Calico Dragon

Who Killed Cock Robin?

1936 The Country Cousin Old Mill Pond

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor

1937 The Old Mill Educated Fish

The Little Match Girl

1938 Ferdinand the Bull Brave Little Tailor

Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

Good Scots

Hunky and Spunky

1939 The Ugly Duckling Detouring America

Peace on Earth

The Pointer

1940 The Milky Way Puss Gets the Boot

A Wild Hare

1941 Lend a Paw Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B

Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt

How War Came

The Night Before Christmas

Rhapsody in Rivets

The Rookie Bear

Rhythm in the Ranks


Truant Officer Donald

1942 Der Fuehrer’s Face All Out for “V”

Blitz Wolf

Juke Box Jamboree

Pigs in a Polka

Tulips Shall Grow

1943 The Yankee Doodle Mouse The Dizzy Acrobat

Five Hundred Hats of Batholomew Cubbins

Greetings Bait


Reason and Emotion

1944 Mouse Trouble And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street

Dog, Cat and Canary

Fish Fry

How to Play Football

My Boy, Johnny

Swooner Crooner

1945 Quiet Please! Donald’s Crime

Jasper and the Beanstalk

Life with Feathers

Mighty Mouse in Gypsy Life

The Poet and Peasant

Rippling Romance

1946 The Cat Concerto Musical Moments from Chopin

John Henry and the Inky-Poo

Squatter’s Rights

Walky Talky Hawky

1947 Tweetie Pie Chip an’ Dale

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse

Pluto’s Blue Note

Tubby the Tuba

1948 The Little Orphan Mickey and the Seal

Mouse Wreckers

Robin Hoodlum

Tea for Two Hundred

1949 For Scent-imental Reasons Hatch Up Your Troubles

Magic Fluke

Toy Tinkers

1950 Gerald McBoing-Boing Jerry’s Cousin

Trouble Indemnity

1951 The Two Mouseketeers Lambert the Sheepish Lion

Rooty Toot Toot

1952 Johann Mouse Little Johnny Jet


Pink and Blue Blues

The Romance of Transportation in Canada

1953 Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom Christopher Crumpet

From A to Z-Z-Z-Z

Fugged Bear

The Tell-Tale Heart

1954 When Magoo Flew Crazy Mixed Up Pup

Pigs Is Pigs

Sandy Claws

Touché, Pussy Cat!

1955 Speedy Gonzales Good Will to Men

The Legend of Rockabye Point

No Hunting

1956 Magoo’s Puddle Jumper Gerald McBoing-Boing on Planet Moo

The Jaywalker

1957 Birds Anonymous One Droopy Knight

Tabasco Road

Trees and Jamaica Daddy

The Truth About Mother Goose

1958 Knighty Knight Bugs Paul Bunyan

Sidney’s Family Tree

1959 Moonbird Mexicali Shmoes

Noah’s Ark

The Violinist

1960 Munro Goliath II

High Note

Mouse and Garden

A Place in the Sun

1961 Ersatz (The Substitute) Aquamania

Beep Prepared

Nelly’s Folly

The Pied Piper of Guadalupe

1962 The Hole Icarus Montgolfier Wright

Now Hear This

Self Defense… for Cowards

Symposium on Popular Songs

1963 The Critic Automania 2000

The Game

My Financial Career


1964 The Pink Phink Christmas Cracker

How to Avoid Friendship

Nudnik No. 2

1965 The Dot and the Line Clay or the Origin of Species

The Thieving Magpie

1966 A Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature The Drag

The Pink Blueprint

1967 The Box Hypothese Beta

What on Earth!

1968 Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day The House that Jack Built

The Magic Pear Tree

Windy Day

1969 It’s Tough to Be a Bird Of Men and Demons


1970 Is It Always Right to Be Right? The Further Adventures of Uncle Sam: Part Two

The Shepherd

1971 The Crunch Bird Evolution

The Selfish Giant

1972 A Christmas Carol Kama Sutra Rides Again

Tup Tup

1973 Frank Film The Legend of John Henry


1974 Closed Mondays The Family That Dwelt Apart


Voyage to Next

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!

1975 Great Kick Me

Monsieur Pointu


1976 Leisure Dedalo

The Street

1977 The Sand Castle Bead Game

A Doonesbury Special

Jimmy the C

1978 Special Delivery Oh My Darling

Rip Van Winkle

1979 Every Child Dream Doll

It’s so Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House

1980 The Fly All or Nothing

History of the World in Three Minutes Flat

1981 Crac The Creation

The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin

1982 Tango The Great Cognito

The Snowman

1983 Sundae in New York Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Sound of Sunshine – Sound of Rain

1984 Charade Doctor DeSoto


1985 Anna & Bella The Big Snit

Second Class Mail

1986 A Greek Tragedy The Frog, The Dog and The Devil

Luxo, Jr.

1987 The Man Who Planted Trees George and Rosemary

Your Face

1988 Tin Toy The Cat Came Back

Technological Threat

1989 Balance The Cow

The Hill Farm

1990 Creature Comforts A Grand Day Out


1991 Manipulation Blackfly


1992 Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase Adam

Reci, Reci Reci…

The Sandman

Screen Play

1993 The Wrong Trousers Blindscape

The Mighty River

Small Talk

The Village

1994 Bob’s Birthday The Big Story

The Janitor

The Monk and the Fish


1995 A Close Shave The Chicken from Outer Space

The End


Runaway Brain

1996 Quest Canhead

La Salla

Wat’s Pig

1997 Geri’s Game Famous Fred


Redux Riding Hood

La Vieille dame et les pigeons

1998 Bunny The Canterbury Tales

Jolly Roger


When Life Departs

1999 The Old Man and the Sea 3 Misses


My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts

When the Day Breaks

2000 Father and Daughter Periwig Maker


2001 For the Birds Fifty Percent Grey

Give Up Yer Aul Sins

Strange Invadors

Stubble Trouble

2002 The ChubbChubbs! Katedra

Mike’s New Car

Mt. Head

Das Rad

2003 Harvie Krumpet Boundin’

Gone Nutty



2004 Ryan Birthday Boy

Gopher Broke

Guard Dog


2005 The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation Badgered

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jaspar Morello


One Man Band

2006 The Danish Poer Lifted

The Little Matchgirl


No Time for Nuts

2007 Peter & the Wolf Even Pigeons Go To Heaven

I Met the Walrus

Madame Tutli-Putli

My Love

2008 La Maison en petits cubes Lavatory – Lovestory

Oktapodi – Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image


This Way Up

2009 Logorama Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty

French Roast

The Lady and the Reaper

A Matter of Loaf and Death

2010 The Lost Thing Day & Night

The Gruffalo

Let’s Pollute

Madagascar, A Journey Diary

2011 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore Dimanche

La Luna

A Morning Stroll

Wild Life

2012 Paperman Adam and Dog

Fresh Guacamole

Head Over Heels

The Longest Daycare

2013 Mr. Hublot Feral

Get a Horse!


Room on the Broom

2014 Feast The Bigger Picture

The Dam Keeper

Me and My Moulton

A Single Life

There are two things to take into account in this category. First: you don’t know shit. And second, Pixar doesn’t win. They’ve won three times, ever, and not once since 2001. The ones that won were Tin Toy, Geri’s Game and For the Birds. So the thing to ask yourself each time Pixar gets nominated (which hasn’t happened in four years, by the way. La Luna was the last one. They didn’t even nominate The Blue Umbrella): is this really something that’s gonna win?

Oh, and when you look at what usually wins, it’s typically pretty easy to figure it out. Disney has won twice in the past couple of years, but they’re not here now. So take that part out of the equation. Look at Mr. Hublot, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Lost Thing — all of them have won in the past five years. All of them are online for you to see. Watch those, then look at all five of these, and pretty easily, you see what tends to win.

Best Animated Short

Bear Story


Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Bear Story — An old, lonesome bear tells the story of his life through a mechanical diorama.

Prologue — Taking place 2,400 years in the past, Prologue depicts a brutal battle between two teams of Spartan and Athenian warriors.

Sanjay’s Super Team — Bored with his father’s meditation, a young Indian boy daydreams of Hindu gods as superheroes.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos — Two cosmonauts, two friends, try to do their best in their everyday training life to make their common dream a reality. But this story is not only about the dream.

World of Tomorrow — A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of her distant future.

I’ve seen four of the five. And I’ll tell you right now, only one of them fits exactly with what they go for in this category. And it’s not Pixar.


5. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos — I’ve seen this, and… it’s fine. I didn’t think they’d nominate it. It feels kind of slight overall. It’s kinda weird at times, and the only time you really care is briefly in the middle and then at the very end. This is easily the slightest of the bunch, and the one guaranteed to not get enough votes to win.

4. Prologue — This was the one I hadn’t seen going into nominations. The prevailing opinion of it is that it looks gorgeous, but there’s no real purpose to it. Which is a death knell for something in this category. I remember that gorgeous short Duet that didn’t even get nominated because it was nothing more than beautiful animation without a real through line. This is one of those where the nomination is the reward. And having seen it, I can’t disagree. It looks great, there’s a lot of fighting, but it feels like something that was part of an unfinished bigger piece of work. Love the nomination, but it won’t win. It does have a dude get stabbed in the dick, though. So that’s cool.

3. World of Tomorrow — It’s Don Hertzfeldt. We’ve all seen Rejected and Billy’s Balloon. The man makes hilarious and wonderful shorts. They’re also very weird, and don’t usually go with the Academy’s sensibilities. Rejected got nominated, but it’s hard to think the Academy would go for something with the line “My anus is bleeding!” (Shakespeare in Love notwithstanding). This is also appropriately weird and bizarre and wonderful. But I have a really hard time thinking he’ll win. He’s only been nominated twice, and frankly to see him get this far is surprising. Actually, kinda funny that there’s dick stabbing and anal bleeding (sort of) in the same category.

2. Sanjay’s Super Team — In a year like this, Pixar could very well take this one home. It’s 50/50. The other three don’t feel like they’re serious contenders. So either Pixar takes this, which is historically rare, but given the circumstances of the category, is entirely plausible, or the typical winner will win. Which is —

1. Bear Story — This movie is lovely. It’s beautiful, and poignant. And it’s got the nice animation with the mechanical diorama in the middle, which is extremely well done. If you’re voting for the total package, this is your winner. I guess Sanjay’s Super Team is the frontrunner in terms of perception, but this is the frontrunner in terms of what they normally vote for. I’d say there’s a greater than 90% chance your winner is one of these two.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Animated Feature. The beauty of that category is that I won’t mention a certain movie once in that entire article.


2 responses

  1. looking forward to the rest of your Oscars breakdown. I’m trying to watch/review as many of the films as I can before the 21st. Any ideas where I can find the short films/ short docs/ short animated films?

    February 6, 2016 at 1:37 pm

  2. Yeah, Prologue looked great, but it felt almost like one of those shorts they would have done in the 70s or 80s as an extended commercial for UNICEF or the Peace Corps or some such. Not quite enough meat on its bones.

    I really hope World of Tomorrow wins. There’s not a bad choice here (I even liked Cosmos well enough), but World of Tomorrow is the whole package for me: clever, bizarre, yet ultimately resonant. I hope it wins.

    February 6, 2016 at 11:23 pm

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