10 Animated Shorts Make the 2014 Oscar Shortlist

From left to right: "The Dam Keeper," "Coda," "Symphony No. 42."

From left to right: “The Dam Keeper,” “Coda,” “Symphony No. 42.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this afternoon the list of 10 animated shorts which will advance in the voting process for this year’s Academy Awards. The shortlist was selected from fifty-eight shorts that had originally qualified in the category.

Former Oscar winners Torill Kove, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, and two-time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton, all made the shortlist. Disney also made the shortlist again with Patrick Osborne’s Feast and Disney-legend-turned-Google-director Glen Keane earned a place on the list for his directorial debut Duet.

It’s a super-competitive year with lots of innovative work on display. Two of the strongest contenders on the list are from student filmmakers—Daisy Jacobs’s The Bigger Picture and Réka Bucsi’s Symphony No. 42 (Bucsi just picked up two more awards last weekend at the Primanima festival). The other indie shorts on the list—Coda, The Dam Keeper and A Single Life—are solid Oscar-worthy efforts as well.

The once-dominant Pixar was snubbed for the second year in a row; last year the Academy ignored The Blue Umbrella, this year Lava, which we can confirm was indeed qualified. The last Pixar short to be nominated was La Luna in 2011. (Disclosure: I wrote The Art of Pixar Short Films.)

(For the record, eight of the ten shortlisted films had previously been identified on Cartoon Brew’s list of contenders, which we had compiled without any input from the Academy.)

The 10 shortlisted films are below in alphabetical order. Congratulations to all!

The Bigger Picture
Daisy Jacobs, director, and Christopher Hees, producer
National Film and Television School

Alan Holly, director
And Maps And Plans

The Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, directors
Tonko House

Glen Keane, director
Glen Keane Productions & ATAP

Patrick Osborne, director, and Kristina Reed, producer
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Bill Plympton, director
Bill Plympton Studio

Me and My Moulton
Torill Kove, director
Mikrofilm in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada

The Numberlys
William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, directors
Moonbot Studios

A Single Life
Joris Oprins, director
Job, Joris & Marieke

Symphony No. 42
Réka Bucsi, director
Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest

The shortlist was selected by the Academy’s short films and feature animation branch reviewing committee, which viewed the entries last month at screenings in Los Angeles and New York.

Now, short film and feature animation branch members will select three to five nominees from the 10 titles on this shortlist. The branch screenings to determine the nominees will be held in Los Angeles, New York, London, and San Francisco in December.

The nominations will be announced on January 15, 2015.

  • Droobiedoo

    Decent cross section. I really loved Symphony No. 42 and Coda. A Bill Plympton film is always great. And Numberless is a lot of fun–more so than the app it’s based on. The rest, while having some artistry, don’t really do much in terms of story or character.

  • Harrison

    My money is on Glen Keane’s Duet.

    • http://cinimated.com Ant G

      Did you see the other contenders? Can you explain how two lovers growing up dancing > all the other nominations? Because it’s sentimental or because it’s made by a big name artist?

      • http://www.doodlesinanimation.blogspot.com Annie T.

        I haven’t seen the others yet (seeing Feast tomorrow and going to track down the rest of these on Youtube/Vimeo), but I will say that Duet is gorgeous. Not putting money on it yet, but it has a fighting chance.

      • puzzlemonkey

        Easy now. They said their money, not their vote. Maybe they think Glen Keane is a big enough name to sway the decision.

        If this were voted on only by the animation community, I think this might be a shoo-in. I sure think Glen Keane should have an Oscar. But the fact that the entire Academy gets to vote makes it less likely.

        • puzzlesolver

          This Oscar is for the film, not for the director or animator, and definitely not for lifetime achievement. And many in the animation community can see this is far from Keane’s best work.

          • Anon

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      • Lori

        I agree. My issues with Duet were that of boredom- I’ve seen this from Glen Keane before, and what’s worse is that I’ve seen it so many times. His penchant for transformation scenes has become so trite. The Bear in the Fox and the Hound, Beast transforming into a man, Ariel (and her rarely-consistently on model chest and facial features). I think that if you compared it with Coda, alone, you would find how emotionally flat it appears. Both have relatively simple, concise stories being told, but Coda has so much more pathos and nuance. Personally, I find Duet to be saccharine and dull. And I love a love story.

  • Anon

    Feast doesn’t deserve to be on that list. It was a cute short but way too conventional and derivative. It had nothing meaningful to say. It was pure Disney fluff. I can name at least a dozen other shorts that were more deserving that Feast. If the Disney name wasn’t attached to it, it most certainly wouldn’t have advanced.

    • http://www.doodlesinanimation.blogspot.com Annie T.

      DisneyToons “The Pirate Fairy” made the shortlist for “Best Animated Film”, and it was a direct-to-DVD. Your point?

      • Confused

        The Pirate Fairy is on the list of films submitted for potential nomination. No decision was made by the Academy. Put another way, there is no ‘short list’ for animated features. I’m not sure what YOUR point is.

    • Steve

      I totally disagree. It’s about sacrificing for your friends, even when you dont think you’ll get anything in return. It was a step forward in the hybridization of 2D and CG animation, the likes of which has not been seen since Paperman. It’s extremely well done on an artistic and technical level. I accept your challenge of naming 12 other shorts this year that are superior. Otherwise, I’ll just chalk this up as another “Anonymous” post from someone with sour grapes and a biased hatred to all things Disney…and disregard.

      I await your response.

      • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com ElliotCowan

        At least 16 of my graduating seniors made superior films to Feast.

  • Strong Enough

    Well Dice is Pixar but I see what you mean

    • AmidAmidi

      Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo made that film outside of Pixar. It’s a thoroughly independent film. Also, both of them left Pixar to do their own thing.

      • Strong Enough

        I knew what you meant before. But I didn’t know Dice left Pixar. wow.

  • http://www.doodlesinanimation.blogspot.com Annie T.

    As a student filmmaker myself, I’m pretty impressed that two student films made the shortlist. May the best film win!

  • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

    I would love to see Duet take home the award. If not Duet, then The Dam Keeper would be another great candidate to take the award.

  • AmidAmidi

    They had already qualified the film in an LA theatrical run before it appeared online.

  • Andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    My pick would be the Dam Keeper. appealing , a great story about bullying .Not every deserving short film needs to be about something depressing with a cello on the soundtrack to be a worthy competitor

  • schwarzgrau

    Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I guess not much people actually care for it. So the big names will win, not the best film. Then a lot of people here will say “XY was a much better film” and propably there are right, but the voters didn’t see it, cause they don’t care.