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Oscars 2018 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Short

So what we do here each year as a warm up for the Oscars is, I break down each of the 24 categories. The idea is to both familiarize everyone with the category and its history. I look at what the major trends are throughout the past bunch of years, how the precursors tend to go, whether they matter or not, that sort of stuff. I look at how the category came to be this year, and just anything else that seems totally pertinent about it. Then I rank each of the nominees and tell you what their likelihood (at this particular moment in time) of winning is.

This is all prelude to my giant Oscar ballot that I’m gonna give you. But I figure, if you have these as the warmup, it’s not as intimidating. You’ll have seen a lot of the pertinent trends here and we’ll all be able to reference these as a sort of cheat sheet. Plus it shows you where my head is at for how I think each of the categories are gonna go, and you can see me working my way up to all the bad decisions I usually make while guessing. Pretty much, with this, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the category is gonna turn out.

Today is Best Animated Short. Truly one of my favorite categories this year, because just about everything in it is great and worth seeing.

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

2017 Dear Basketball Garden Party

Lou

Negative Space

Revolting Rhymes

All the shorts categories are specific to their year. They really don’t have any outside influences outside of, “Which one is Pixar?” So we just look at what we have and go from there.

Best Animated Short

Animal Behaviour

Bao

Late Afternoon

One Small Step

Weekends

This was the first year all ten shorts were available online before nominations. Many have since been pulled, because apparently they don’t understand the internet is pretty much the only way the public gets to see most of these, but I think at least two of these are still available (the best two, anyway).

I think, of the other shortlisted films, I’m surprised Lost & Found didn’t make it, since it was beautifully animated and stop-motion, but otherwise nothing was too much of a shocker to me. Animal Behaviour was the only short I didn’t really care for, so of course they nominated it. Grandpa Walrus was one that was just kind of okay. Bird Karma looked nice but didn’t amount to much. Bilby was nice, but I’m glad they didn’t nominate it just because it felt kind of standard CGI animation, whereas most of these are at least hand-drawn. And Age of Sail I really liked but also didn’t think they needed to nominate. I don’t think it did as much, narratively, as Pearl did a few years ago, even though this one did have more of a structured narrative. Personally, I think Lost & Found should have made it on instead of Animal Behaviour, but outside of that, I think we got the best version of this category that we could have gotten, and I rarely feel like I can say that. So I’m very happy with how this turned out.

That said… Pixar is pretty much running away with this one again, aren’t they?

Rankings:

5. Animal Behaviour — I don’t think this is gonna resonate with voters. Look at the last bunch of winners. If it wasn’t Pixar, Disney or Kobe Bryant (i.e., something with a lot of exposure), it was the one that told the most emotional story. And this ain’t that. So I have to consider it the fifth choice. Where’s the emotion here? It’s mostly just cute. Animals in therapy and their natural behaviors become their major issues. I don’t see this having any support in the way of a vote. You have to figure how many people are even gonna watch all five shorts and vote, and then figure how many of them are gonna vote for this one specifically. Can’t see it.

4. Late Afternoon — It’s really well done, and the animation is gorgeous. It might get some votes. Not sure it’ll have the legs to win. Feels like a fourth choice. This is a category where I can’t really support my feelings with any concrete evidence. You guys have all the evidence I do, though maybe you all haven’t seen the nominees as I have. Still, I think you can diagnose this one just on looking at what you have, and I think most of us would have this at #3 or #4 in this race. Doesn’t feel like a winner.

3. Weekends — This one has won some bigger festivals and just won the Annie Award for Best Short. Which is not insignificant. Since 2010, the Annie Short category is 4/8. Granted, the four times the winner didn’t win the Oscar, the Oscar winner in this category wasn’t nominated, and this was the only Oscar nominee up at the Annies, but it’s something. It at least means the animators saw it and liked it and that’s a measure of support that I will take in a category like this. That said… it’s not Disney or Pixar, so I can only go so far in my support. Can this win? Sure. Do I think I can call this a favorite at the moment? Not a chance. It doesn’t have what all previous winners had, which is the studio pedigree or the emotional story core. There’s emotion there, but it’s not what usually wins. Anyone who sees this knows that immediately. I think it’s a contender, but I’m not looking at this as a major player for the win just yet.

2. One Small Step — The only thing that is putting this over Weekends for me is the fact that you watch it and it has that emotional core that tends to do really well in this category. And the fact that this was openly on the internet from like September. So it gave more people a chance to just come across it along the way. At this point, I’m looking for anything that can beat Pixar, which has the total package this year in a way that I haven’t seen them have in a while. Lou didn’t have it. Piper didn’t have it. Sanjay’s Super Team didn’t have it. La Luna… ehh. Day & Night was technical, but didn’t have it. It’s been a while. So yeah, this is the second choice. But this is my personal favorite short in the category and it absolutely destroyed me when I saw it for the first time. And I think that will be the case for a lot of people who see it. It’s a very uplifting, life-affirming kind of a short, and is exactly what voters in this category respond to. So I think if you’re looking to what can possibly take down Pixar in this category, it’s this or Weekends.

1. Bao — The rule is that if Pixar is nominated in this category, it’s automatically the frontrunner until it loses. That’s just how that works. And this is the most complete Pixar short I’ve seen in a while. Last year, Lou wasn’t anything special. Piper looked great but was just kind of ehh, even though it managed a win. Sanjay’s Super Team I wasn’t a huge fan of. Lava — no thank you. The Blue Umbrella looked incredible, and probably came close, but they didn’t nominate it. La Luna looked nice, but otherwise didn’t have the total package. Day & Night had no narrative really, but looked spectacular, and could have won it on that alone (but didn’t). It’s been a while since Pixar had a short that was truly emotionally resonant. And this one should walk away with the category really easily. They look for what the most emotionally affecting shorts are in this category, and it’s hard to say this isn’t the one. I think it’s an easy winner and will be your frontrunner until it loses.

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One response

  1. MasonEvansSr

    Doesn’t Pixar usually lose this category?

    February 8, 2019 at 3:12 pm

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