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Oscars 2017 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Short

Every year, as we lead up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category; what the trends are, how the guilds and stuff help (or don’t), etc. I also do it as a precursor to my giant Oscar ballot. I get most of the heavy lifting out of the way here, so that way when I get to the article, I’m just kind of riffing on how I think it’ll turn out and talking myself into all the bad decisions. It’s like college. And this is the pregame.

How these articles work is — I give you all the previous winners and nominees of each of the categories, then tell you how accurate each of the respective guilds and precursors are in what they vote for versus what wins the Oscar, tell you how each of them voted this year, then give you this year’s category, along with a quick rundown of how we ended up with that category (what was a surprise, etc). After that, I rank each of this year’s nominees in terms of how I see them right now in terms of their likelihood to win. Which is nothing more than my perception (notice that underline, even though you won’t) of how the category seems at the moment based on everything I know and have seen. Which will give you a general sense of the favorites.

Today is Best Animated Short, the category we all want to like, but can never see before the ceremony, so we just sort of stop paying attention and shrug.

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

Superman

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

Imagination

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

Madeline

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

Pianissimo

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

Walking

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

Pulcinella

1974 Closed Mondays The Family That Dwelt Apart

Hunger

Voyage to Next

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!

1975 Great Kick Me

Monsieur Pointu

Sisyphus

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

Paradise

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

Grasshoppers

1991 Manipulation Blackfly

Strings

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

Triangle

1995 A Close Shave The Chicken from Outer Space

The End

Gagarian

Runaway Brain

1996 Quest Canhead

La Salla

Wat’s Pig

1997 Geri’s Game Famous Fred

Mermaid

Redux Riding Hood

La Vieille dame et les pigeons

1998 Bunny The Canterbury Tales

Jolly Roger

More

When Life Departs

1999 The Old Man and the Sea 3 Misses

Humdrum

My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts

When the Day Breaks

2000 Father and Daughter Periwig Maker

Rejected

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

Nibbles

Destino

2004 Ryan Birthday Boy

Gopher Broke

Guard Dog

Lorenzo

2005 The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation Badgered

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jaspar Morello

9

One Man Band

2006 The Danish Poet Lifted

The Little Matchgirl

Maestro

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

Presto

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!

Possessions

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

2016 Piper Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

There’s not much to talk about here. There are no precursors, just a shortlist.

Best Animated Short

Dear Basketball

Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

I’m very surprised In a Heartbeat didn’t make it. That was the one short that actually made news this year. It’s better than just about everything in this category. Other than that horrendous snub, the only thing I can say about this category is — Academy Award nominee Kobe Bryant.

Rankings:

5. Revolting Rhymes — I almost had this second. That’s how much I have no idea what’s gonna happen this year. The Gruffalo and No Room on the Broom by these same animators were both nominated previously, but neither won. I don’t think there’s any emotional connection to these when voters see them, and I’m not sure this will land. It’s the longest nominee by far (and it’s only part of two half hour shorts!), and is just kind of okay. It’s weird that they nominated one of two shorts, especially since there’s no resolution to it. I think its pedigree might earn it a few votes, keeping me from placing it outright fifth, but I think it might just be outright fifth. It’s a half-hour, the previous entries haven’t been nominated, and there’s no resolution to it! How can this win? (He said…)

4. Garden Party — This might bump up to third in the end. It looks great. Will it win? Don’t know. But this year, I have no clue what will. Definitely feels like it could happen, but right now, based on what I know, unless everyone’s seen all the nominees, what makes me think it’ll get voted for? Everything’s in contention, but right now, this doesn’t feel like it’ll win.

3. Dear Basketball — I truly cannot fathom a world in which this wins this category. But, it’s definitely the highest profile short here, next to Pixar. Kobe wrote the poem, Kobe produced the short and John Williams did the score. Does that matter? Does anyone care? I don’t know. But what I do know is that people have at least heard of it and know what this is. So right now, I’ll call it a third choice, even though I’m pretty sure, unless it’s Disney or Pixar, which will just get stray votes because of that, quality wins out. So while this is well done, I just don’t know if enough people are gonna care. So third now, probably fourth on the night.

2. Negative Space — I just think this is the highest quality short in the bunch, which will help it rise to the top of the competition. This doesn’t feel like something that wins, so no matter how much I like it, it’s no better than a second choice. It might even be a third or fourth choice.

1. Lou — Unless there’s something you know for sure feels like a guaranteed winner in this category, you have to make Pixar the favorite if they’re nominated. I feel like this is gonna turn out like last year, where there is no choice that tugs at the heartstrings enough, and Pixar just wins because they’re there and people know what it is. This doesn’t have the photorealism of Piper, but it’s a fun little short. I don’t see any reason for this to not be the favorite. In the end, the shorts that make the most sense are this, Negative Space and Garden Party. And only this feels like what they’d normally vote for. So this is the favorite. That’s how Animated Short works. You just sort of shrug and go, “I guess.”

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