Oscars 2016 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 typically goes, voting-wise, historically and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

What I do is 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 voted, 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. So you know what the general favorites are.

Today is Best Animated Short. A fun category to watch — not so much for picking.

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 Poet 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

2015 Bear Story Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

No precursors or anything here. We just guess straight up.

Best Animated Short

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes



Surprised Inner Workings didn’t make it. Otherwise, it about makes sense.


5. Blind Vaysha — The animation style is great, but this isn’t remotely the kind of film they go for. They go for stories that have emotion to them in some form. This doesn’t have that. It’s an interesting set up without any payoff except direct confrontation to the audience. This is such a clear fifth choice to anyone who studies this stuff that it’s almost unfair how easy it is.

4. Pear Cider and Cigarettes — This is the kind of film where it looks good, is interesting, but it never gets enough votes to actually win. The nomination is the reward. They always nominate the more personal films, but they never win. Fourth choice, clearly. The other three are so much more up their alley.

3. Pearl — I love this short and it’s very emotional, but is there enough there for it to get votes? I’m concerned because it’s a 360 short, meaning you can watch it and move around anywhere and see every angle while watching. The people seeing this via screener might not get that. They worked in some camera movements, but how many people are actually gonna understand that? I’m concerned about this film’s chances at a win, so I’m keeping it as third choice for now, even though it theoretically should be the alternate. It could actually win. But I need to reconcile what I think about the 360 thing before I decide what I actually think about it.

2. Borrowed Time — This is probably gonna end up a third choice, but something about this makes me feel like it could win. The big downside? And it is a big one… they like uplifting movies here. This movie is not uplifting. It’s actively depressing. That’s a big negative in a category like this. That’s probably what will ultimately prevent this from winning. I think it might end up a race between Piper and Pearl. But for now, I’m thinking this movie does have a legitimate shot. So for the next week, humor me. I’m working through some stuff now to see how it feels and we’ll see where we are when it comes time to actually pick this thing.

1. Piper — It has to be considered the favorite. The story is slight, and I’m not convinced it wins, but without a clear choice this year like there has been in years past, this becomes the default favorite. Though the big word of caution is that Pixar hasn’t won this category in 15 years and this short isn’t really all that much in the end. It just looks photorealistic and is cute. They’ve been in this position before with much more affecting shorts. I’m not sold this wins, but I think in lieu of something as obvious as Bear Story or Paperman, we have to consider this the likely winner for now. Thinking we end up with this or Pearl winning, but we’ll see. You pretty much just ruminate on this category until it becomes time to pick. There’s not a whole lot you can do here to figure it out except guess.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Sound Editing.


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