The Oscars present awards to the best filmmakers in America and beyond, and one creative category that often goes overlooked is the Best Animated Short Film.
This category is filled with fun, quirky, and emotional films. This year, shockingly, there are no Disney or Pixar-nominated short films. This year, space was left for other production companies to make their mark in the animation industry and prove their worth.
1. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Hors
Where to watch: Apple TV +
This short follows a young boy who is lost in the forest and his animal companions that he makes along the way. The short film is based on the book of the same name by Charlie Mackesy.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse, is sweet and charming, but it lacks the maturity that some of the other nominee’s harbor this year. The audience is younger children, which isn’t necessarily bad, but this is usually a category where complex animation shines. However, the lessons it teaches children are invaluable but very on the nose for adults watching.
2. The Ice Merchants
Where to watch: New Yorker Website
The Ice Merchants brings viewers into the interesting world of a father and his son who are in the strange business of selling ice. Each morning they skydive from their home on the side of a mountain down to the ground to sell the ice they make daily. However, changing weather threatens their livelihood, forcing them to reckon with the consequences of grief and struggling life.
The Ice Merchants is the best film on this list. It’s quite emotional and very effective in its pursuit to evoke tears from its viewers. The grief of the father and son is so vibrant it’s unavoidable to feel the loss that the main characters feel and the gap that has been left in their lives. The animation is beautiful. The film effectively generates emotion and interest without any dialogue, just a beautiful score. It’s colorful, borderline trippy, and overall just exquisite. There’s an element of the film that’s both semi-realistic but also mystical and quirky. It’s everything that I love about animated short films, and it left me wanting to view more from this artist.
3. The Flying Sailor
The Flying Sailor shows the true story of a sailor who survived the blast of an explosion caused by two ships crashing. As he flies through the air, he is struck with experiences of his own life and meaning. This film is based on the Halifax explosion of 1917 that occurred in Canada.
The Flying Sailor ranks last on this list. While the animation is well done, nothing made an emotional connection to this audience. It doesn’t pull on your heartstrings like The Ice Merchants, nor does it have the relatability of My Year of Dicks. It is not a bad short film, and the animation is commendable, but it doesn’t stand out as much as the others on this list. There’s not much to keep the viewer’s attention, who has not much to view other than a naked sailor floating through air.
4. My Year of Dicks
Where to watch: Filmmaker’s site
My Year of Dicks follows Pam, a fifteen-year-old girl on a mission to lose her virginity. The story is split into chapters, focusing on her experience with a different boy. Her chapters chronicle the horror that comes with your first sexual experience and the awkwardness of teenage life.
My Year of Dicks effectively shares young girls’ struggle to sleep with boys that are both charming, creative, and universal. My Year of Dicks does a great job of providing an authentic female experience, which can be hard to find in a world of male writers and filmmakers. This film is personal, and while the animation isn’t as gorgeous as some of the other films on this list, it certainly works for the style and changes creatively throughout the film. I can see My Year of Dicks being picked up as a larger media piece, like a full-length film or an animated series.
5. An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake, and I Think I Believe It
Unfortunately, there is no place to watch this on the internet. It may get a chance at broader distribution if it wins the Oscar. Based on the trailer alone, it looks exciting and creative. It’s hard to say anything wrong about stop-motion animation because of the work and tedious process for even a short film to be made.
The film was created and directed by Lachlan Pendragon and followed an office worker whose life is turned upside down by an ostrich who makes him question the reality of the world that he lives in.
The Oscars premiered on Sunday, March 12th, on ABC. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse took home the Best Animated Short Film trophy this year.