Oscars 2020: Best Animated Short Eligibles

Okay. So a little bit of a reverse of how this normally goes, but I wasn’t aware of the existence of this list beforehand. You already know the shortlist of ten, but here’s the full list of 96 eligibles for Animated Short.

I’m gonna go through and watch all the ones I can and then look at trailers for the rest and see which ones look great. All I’m really trying to do here is expose myself (and others) to some great animated shorts, which I feel are one of those things that we grow up with and then just sort of abandon along the way because we become less exposed to them. And we forget just how amazing they are to watch.

So, use this as a springboard to remind yourself of how great animated short films are.

Altötting

Looks great. Looks incredibly well-made. Based on the brief trailer, my guess is this wouldn’t be something I’d consider my favorite off this list, but the animation style is incredible and I’m curious to hopefully eventually see the full short.

Am I a Wolf?

Oh I love when they do this type of animation. It’s always so stunning. The trailer doesn’t tell us much, but I imagine even if the story doesn’t do much for me it would just be nice to look at.

And Then the Bear

I like the simplicity of the animation here. I love how they use really simple imagery to explain so much about character and emotion. It took a story we’ve seen told so many times and made it feel unique in its own way.

The Beauty

It looks great as far as the photoreal animation goes. But otherwise it feels like an extended Super Bowl commercial or one of those intros you see at a museum. You know, in one of those little TVs at the start of an exhibit. It gets its point across very plainly and with great animation.

Bench

"Bench"

I know nothing about this except that I think the guy who made this worked for Aardman. Which means it should be very well made and cute stop-motion. And I like that we’re getting all these different animation styles this early in the list. You’re really seeing the full gamut of what the medium can do. Too bad only one of the shorts has been widely available for everyone to see thus far.

Beyond Noh

Well that was terrifying. I mean, I get the purpose of this short, but… yeah, this isn’t for me. This looks like something out of a horror movie to me.

Burrow

WHAT? Pixar made 2D animation? Oh hell yeah. It’s a really cute short. I love how it looks like a picture book. And I love the tableau shots of each of the other creatures’ homes.

Butterflies in Berlin — Diary of a Soul Split in Two

Oh my god, look how stunning this looks. It’s about 30 minutes, so based on that I feel like it might be a bit overdone. But maybe not. Maybe it’ll look so good that it doesn’t matter. I really want to see this.

Canvas

It’s a really lovely short whose only drawback, as far as I’m concerned, is that it’s not entirely 2D animation. They go 2D (or I guess mimic 2D, I’m not sure) in the imagination sequences, but otherwise it’s 3D. Still, the story is quite lovely and it manages to be properly personal and emotional.

Ciervo

Interesting short about domestic violence. I like the colors they used. And I like that they chose this medium to make a film about such a topic.

The Coin

This is by the woman who did A Sister. I recognized the style immediately. It’s a really nice short. I like that all her shorts feel very personal.

Coming Home

This looks political. Animation style looks great, but I feel like you never wanna go topical in your animated short. Animation (especially when not done CG) is timeless. So while I support what they’re trying to do narratively and I love the look of it, but I’m not sure how this will play as a full short.

Cops and Robbers

Oh, interesting. Live Action segueing to animation. I love the different styles of animation they use over the message. It works really, really well. A beautiful message against police brutality told in the most beautiful of visual ways.

Cosmic Fling

A very cute short. Though somewhat problematic in the sense of… what if the woman wasn’t into this? Then he’s just a psycho. But, you know, cuteness and all.

Crunch

I wasn’t a huge fan of this just because I wasn’t sure the purpose of it. Plus the CG animation style is never my favorite. But good for them for making it.

Dalia’s Still Here

I love what they did with this, the newspapers on the back like one of those flip books you’d make as a child. It’s also got something to say and says it well. This is one of the most unique and refreshing-looking shorts I’ve seen in a while.

A Dark Day of Injustice

This looks fantastic. I love this animation style. There was a Doc Short nominee a few years ago that did this. This looks like you took the pages of a manga and animated them. It’s awesome. I’m running out of things to say for these ones that are just trailers because I want to see them all.

Don’t Know What

Oh, it’s one of those shorts. This feels more experimental than animated. But sure. This reminds me of a short I saw in college — we did a section on experimental cinema (which really isn’t something most people talk about or consider a lot of the time) and watched this short called Alone: Life Wastes Andy Hardy, which took clips from one of the Andy Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and did exactly what this short does but to a much different end. You can watch the short here and see what I mean. But anyway, good for them for making this short, though I’m not entirely sure how this qualifies as animated. But whatever. It was awesome.

Elo

Well this looks weird as hell and beautifully made. I’m in for whatever this is.

El Pájarocubo

Oh, another stop-motion. That’s cool. Not sure the story element of this would work for me, but the film looks great. I love that everything in it is hand-made.

Empty Places

Love the use of “Moonlight Sonata” here to match the peaceful rhythms of the images they’re animating. I like when some shorts don’t exist for any other reason except beauty. This feels like one of those.

The Fabric of You

Oh wow, look at this. This looks gorgeous.

Float

A really fascinating Pixar short that really hits home in a big way for the point it’s trying to make about owning your differences and not allowing the rest of the world to dictate what you think and feel. You can apply this short to a lot of different situations — disability, gender and sexual preference, autism — it’s really sweet and I’m glad Pixar has branched out into more socially conscious shorts. This feels a lot more impactful than two volcanos singing (not that Lava was a terrible short).

4 North A

Oh, I recognize this style. They used this for the one with the lady with Alzheimer’s. Late Afternoon Tea or something like that. Where she slips through memories of her life and doesn’t realize the woman talking to her is her daughter. This looks terrific, though. And emotional.

Freeze Frame

I love how this one was directed. I like films that play with framing and lenses. Most animated shorts don’t do that. This one feels like it’s using a bit of the old Méliès tricks of something in the foreground in front of the camera to create a certain illusion. Plus the monochromatic nature of it all really worked for me. And the fact that part of it felt like it was some early Edison short. And that they made all this stuff out of ice, which looked fantastic. The whole short is pretty wonderful.

Friends

This is cute. I also like that it’s by the New Yorker, and this feels like it was drawn like a lot of their cartoons. I also am really loving how literally all the styles of animation and what can be done with the medium are all fully on display here. (Really only goes to show you how lazy a lot of American feature studio animation is, doesn’t it?)

Genius Loci

This is one of the ones that was shortlisted. It looks great and probably looks like they’re gonna nominate it. I can’t wait to (hopefully) see this soon.

Grab My Hand: A Letter to My Dad

Oh. Dialogue. Always throws me off when shorts have dialogue because we’re so used to them largely being visual. But this one utilizes voiceover so well. It’s really emotional and quite beautiful. One of the better shorts on this list. I really, really love this short.

Grandad Was a Romantic

Oh wow. Look at this one. I recognize the story immediately — lots of these ‘I remember a story of my childhood’ ones end up here. But the style looks incredible. I really wanna see this.

The Great Malaise

I have no idea what this is, but it looks awesome.

Hamsa

I like that this represents cultures you don’t normally see represented in shorts and manages to tell a really impactful story in a short, concise manner. It accomplishes a lot in such a short time, so much so that I don’t even mind that it’s CG animated.

 

Harvest

Oh hell yeah. This animation style is beautiful. I’m so in awe of all these shorts and I can’t believe that these don’t get any sort of promotion anywhere. We should be seeing these in front of everything. Or at least promoted on movie sites.

Have a Nice Dog!

Oh. This was not what I was expecting. It looks amazing, but somehow I expected a different tone and story to this. But, I mean, hey… looks terrifically well-made.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Damn. They got Meryl on this and everything. They must have been angling real hard to get this shortlisted. And Ruth Negga and Chris O’Dowd and Jacob Tremblay. They went big here. And I get it. They’re adapting a book and trying to impart a real message. Can’t say I love this as entertainment, but I appreciate the effort from an educational and message perspective, and the animation style is really nice too.

Homeless Home

Damn, though. I love the look of this one. No clue what the story’s gonna be, but it looks awesome.

I, Barnabé

This is the first one on the list where I thought, “… animation style’s kinda boring.” These CG ones never quite do it for me. I’m sure it’s fun and the story is good, but to me, they’re just less interesting when they’re made on a computer like this.

If Anything Happens I Love You

An absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking short that will just tear your heart out. Brilliantly drawn and so timely in all the right (and wrong, unfortunately) ways. This is one of the absolute best shorts of the year and you owe it to yourself to see it.

Inside Me

Oh I love the look of this. This is the kind of short you imagine when you think of Best Animated Short. Something like this or something like Pixar. I feel like this is how we view the extremes. Still, though, looks great.

Just a Guy

Oh, fun. Recollections of women falling in love with a serial killer. Not something you see too often in animation. It certainly helps get the point across that animation is a medium and not a genre and isn’t just for young kids.

Kapaemahu

Very nice short that gives you a bit of history behind it. It’s shortlisted, too.

Kids

So this is apparently more of an app/game you can download and play more than a short. But I guess they released this more theatrical version to qualify for this. So sure. The more the merrier. It’s beautiful to look at. I have no earthly idea what the point of it is, but sometimes things don’t need a point. So I’m a fan.

KKUM

This looks great. Oh man, I wanna see this one more than most on the list. This looks fantastic.

Lal

It looks well-made and the framing of the action is nice, but the CGI-ness of it all takes away from it for me. Especially with all the great 2D stuff all around it.

Little Hilly

This short starts with the Taiwanese national anthem, and it again proves how nice it is to hear a national anthem that’s not about fucking war and bombs for a change. But anyway, I like the style of this. It feels like My Life as a Zucchini. It’s also quite imaginative.

The Lonely Orbit

I love the look of this. The visuals are so strong and they enhance everything else about this short.

Loop

Good for Pixar for having a nonverbal autistic lead in a short. It’s great because it helps normalize these things to children and gets them to realize that autistic people are just the same as them, just with a few more challenges on a day-to-day basis. That alone makes this one of the best shorts on this list before you even consider the actual content. But the content is also really strong. It’s a really sweet short and accomplishes what it needs to accomplish. Truth be told, I’d watch an entire feature with a character like this, and I bet lots of other people would too.

Lost and Crowned

Not my favorite because of the CG animation but the content is cute enough to get the job done otherwise.

Maggie Simpson in “Playdate with Destiny”

Oh man, the Simpsons being owned by Disney just feels wrong. But otherwise, it’s a Simpsons short. Of course it’s fun. The other one, The Longest Daycare, was also fun.

Matches

Trailer can be seen here.

This looks great. I also like what appears to be an animated hand putting the matches down. Maybe they just rotoscoped a real hand doing all this, but I like the prospect that they just animated a hand doing this just because they could.

Me

Hard to tell what this is from that, but it looks well done.

Melting Heart Cake

Love the animation here. The backgrounds are gorgeous. And the character animation is great too. I really enjoyed this one.

Mi Hermano Luca

Looks well-made. Very colorful. Not sure the story’s gonna matter to me, but we’ll see.

Mime Your Manners

This is cute, short and to the point. I barely even noticed that it was CG animation. Good for them on this one. It never overstays its welcome and is, in a way, a perfect short.

Minor Accident of War

This is one hell of a short. The animation is vivid and the story is incredible. I really liked this one a lot.

My Galactic Twin Galaction

THERE we go. I was waiting for one of these. Where they do the animation cutouts like you made a ransom letter version of an animated film on a hefty dose of acid. Fuck yeah. Bring this one right on. I’m ready.

My Life in Versailles

Oh I love this style. This almost feels like they’re trying to expand it into something longer. Still, I’ll watch the hell out of this.

My Wish List

That… that is the trailer. Truly don’t know what that is, but the fact that it looks like it was drawn with crayons makes me intrigued.

Naked

Yeah, this about fits with what I’d have expected to come out of Russia (sorry, Russia, but it’s true).

O28

Okay then. This was a short. I tend to tune out when things are wildly over-the-top the way they are here, but fortunately this didn’t overstay its welcome.

Opera

This is shortlisted and I can’t wait to see it because it looks incredible. I hope I get the chance to see it.

Orgiastic Hyper-Plastic

Oh hell yeah. This looks amazing. Guy just picked up a shit ton of plastic items and animated them in this beautiful, colorful rhythm. I love abstract shorts. I’m ready for this one.

Out

Seeing this makes me remember that great short In a Heartbeat that they didn’t nominate a few years ago. But anyway, Pixar is killing it with these Spark Shorts. Autistic lead. Gay lead. Good for them for that. Would be nice to branch that to features (and hey, maybe they are), but for now, this is great. Though I must say, I always get jarred when a Pixar short has dialogue in it. The animation looks terrific, though I feel like this took a turn in the second act that it really shouldn’t have. I’m really curious why it is with Pixar and Disney that when they have a gay lead or a Black lead (which they’ve done twice now to Black leads, with Princess and the Frog and Soul) they have to turn them into animals for half the story. As much as I appreciate what they were going for here, I feel like this raises so many more unnecessary questions than it should. And only reminds me how much better and simpler In a Heartbeat did it.

Petty Thing

Okay then. No idea what to make of this based on that. Hope it’s good.

The Power of Hope

"The Power of Hope"

This is from a teenage girl in California. All I could find while searching for it is clips of her on the news talking about it with a few brief glimpses. I mean… looks fine. It’s a hell of an achievement and worth tons of praise.

Précieux

"Précieux"

I know nothing about this other than this image. But I get the general tone from that alone, so there’s that.

Purpleboy

Super widescreen. What if this was just Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon getting bullied at school? Or like, some gritty reboot of the Grimace?

All jokes aside, looks great. Excited to see it.

The Quiet

I could tell before I hit play on this one I was gonna like it. Colorful as hell, looks great. Then it takes that insane turn, which only made me more excited for it.

On the (Virtual) Road to Oscar Gold: 2020's Short Film Contenders | Animation Magazine

Red Rover

Dope. Stop-motion short about colonialism.

Sh_t Happens

Amazing title, fantastic look, batshit trailer. What more could you ask for in a short?

The Shawl

"The Shawl"

Looks cool. There’s some information about this on the film’s kickstarter. It sounds admirable as hell.

The Snail and the Whale

Oh, so this is like those other British shorts, No Room on the Broom and Revolting Rhymes and The Gruffalo. Only they went a little more for that photoreal look here. The Academy loves this stuff. I’m always like, “It’s fine, but give me the more daring stuff.” Though I very much appreciate the place this has in animation, since it really is like reading a storybook for children. So on that level, I do like this.

Song Sparrow

Puppets. That’s cool. No idea what they’re gonna do with it, but part of me thought this was gonna be a comedy for a second. Or maybe that’s the part of me that wanted it to turn into a comedy. Clearly it’s not, but either way, it looks great.

Sororelle

This looks awesome. Laika-style. And it seems like the story’s gonna be great too. I wanna see this one.

Spanner

Spanner

All I can find out is that it’s three-minutes long and is about the person working on the bridge. Seems short and comedic. Either way, very upset for them for not putting the tagline ‘in the works’ below the title.

The Story of the “I’m Alone”

You don’t see the word penumbra used often. But yeah, this seems to just be animation done over the song of the ship. Which, in that… successful. Not sure the purpose, but part of me thinks this was done for a museum exhibit or something. Still, looks like a very successful short.

Symbiosis

Oh. Interesting. Was not expecting this to be what it was about. Again, though, it feels like we’re checking every little nook and cranny of the visual styles of animation, and I like that. I like the way they handled the visuals here, and I like how they dealt with a particular kind of situation and feeling that so many people do and will go through at some point in their lives. So really good for them for that. I like that they didn’t cop out on the ending, too. So many other shorts would’ve done that. Also, you have to appreciate a short that involves a hand job in the shower and someone getting blown just outside the big cat cage at the zoo.

The Tattooed Torah

I’m kidding. This is great. I love the cut-out style of animation and making it look like a picture book. I’m actually pretty thrilled that they made this, because it teaches young kids about the Holocaust in a way that’s… you know… less horrifying than just learning the facts. I’m always a fan of when animated shorts and shows use their time to teach kids about stuff like this, because that really is what helps makes kids more empathetic and open to other cultures and just better people. Some things, as you saw earlier on this list, are easier. Learn to be mindful of other people, learn to appreciate the Earth. But this — it’s a tall task to try to teach a kid about the Holocaust. So I have so much respect for them for pulling this off and for even attempting it. Plus, Ed Asner!

Tiger and Ox

Looks fantastic, and a great way to tell this particular story to help it resonate more.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

I’m usually not the biggest fan of these storybook narrated shorts, but this one is just drawn so well that it’s impossible not to be charmed by it.

A Tiger With No Stripes

(You can watch the entire short here.)

It’s cute. Another short about learning that it’s okay to be different. Beautifully animated.

To Gerard

This is DreamWorks, who have slowly gotten into the animated short game lately. This is a really, really adorable short. It’s hard not to like this one.

To the Dusty Sea

Oh I love when they make this type of animation cinematic and go tight in on the shots. There was that one Dcera from last year or the year before where they used the camera really well. This feels like it’s gonna do that as well. I wanna see this one. I mean, I wanna see them all, but this one especially.

Toomas Beneath the Valley of the Wild

This just sounds fucking bizarre. It’s based on a previous short of the director’s, Manivald, which has this as the plotline: “The film centres on Manivald, an underachieving fox in his early 30s who still lives with his mother, but finds their relationship endangered when they simultaneously fall in love with Toomas, the handsome wolf repairman who arrives to fix their washing machine.”

It sounds like the plot of a porno. And so they spun Toomas off into his own thing. And apparently he’s a gigolo now. Because of course he is. It looks insane.

The Torture Letters

Oh, another Op-Doc. I love how they’re introducing animation to their docs. This is an important subject matter and is something that children — some children — may not necessarily be actively aware of this reality (while others are painstakingly aware of it). This is a great short and one of the more important ones of the year that people should watch.

Tot

This looks incredibly well made, even if it is CGI. I wanna see more of this.

Traces

Oh, it’s one of the pencil-drawn ones. One of these was nominated a few years ago. These always look great.

Umbilical

Really well-made short about a really important subject. Looks great and is clearly personal to the filmmaker.

Umbrella

Not my favorite style of animation, but there’s no denying the emotional content of this short. You can always tell from the still image before you press play — when something hits as many festivals as this has, it’s gonna have something spectacular about it.

Untitled (by Fan Bei Lu)

This is the only short for which I can find no information. There’s not even a title (unless that is the title), but I know nothing about this and can’t find anything.

Why Slugs Have No Legs

This looks fun as hell. I’m in for this one.

Wild Love

This one takes quite the wonderful turn about a minute in, and it is wonderful. It goes so off the rails in the most wonderful way. Where it ends versus where it begins is just — it’s quite the journey in seven minutes. I enjoyed the absolute hell out of this.

Wind

This is a beautifully imaginative short. And so full of emotion, too. It says so much about our relationships with the people we love and our journey through life as we go on to create lives of our own (not to mention what feels like a metaphor for trying to climb out of poverty or even a story of immigration and the desire create a new life for one’s children). I’m honestly surprised they didn’t shortlist this one, given how effective it is.

Windup

Well damn. This short goes from cute to “oh no” real quick. But it’s really beautiful and emotional and does a really good job telling its story. Also — terrific score they wrote for it as well. I really loved this.

World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime

I love this series. I can’t believe he made three of them. But I’m here for every one he wants to make. I love all of these.

The Wrong Rock

This was cute. Mushrooms were an interesting choice. One of them gets Mufasa’d too. It was cute and told a nice message. Could’ve done without the pop song at the end, though.

Yes-People

"Yes-People"

This is shortlisted. Can’t tell by that image but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing they’d normally go for. But maybe it’s really cute and well-done. Won’t know til I see it.

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