The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the shortlist for animated shorts that will advance in the voting process for the 94th Academy Awards.
Eighty-four films qualified in the animated short category. Members of the short films and feature animation branch voted the list down to fifteen films, and will now select five nominees.
Notably, this is the first year that the shortlist has fifteen films on it. In previous years, the list was capped at ten. This expanded list draws more attention to deserving films and makes the category significantly more competitive during the second voting round, which will take place from January 27-February 1, 2022.
The five nominees in the category will be announced on February 8, 2022, with the Oscars ceremony to follow on March 27.
Here are the shortlisted films, in alphabetical order by title:
- Affairs of the Art – Joanna Quinn (U.K./Canada)
- Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice – Zacharias Kunuk (Canada)
- Bad Seeds – Claude Cloutier (Canada)
- Bestia – Hugo Covarrubias (Chile)
- Boxballet – Anton Dyakov (Russia)
- Flowing Home – Sandra Desmazières (Canada)
- Mum Is Pouring Rain – Hugo de Faucompret (France)
- The Musician – Reza Riahi (France)
- Namoo – Erick Oh (U.S.)
- Only a Child – Simone Giampaolo (Switzerland)
- Robin Robin – Dan Ojari, Mikey Please (U.K.)(
- Souvenir Souvenir – Bastien Dubois (France)
- Step Into the River – Weijia Ma (China/France)
- Us Again – Zach Parrish (U.S.)
- The Windshield Wiper – Alberto Mielgo (U.S./Spain)
Here’s a few thoughts on the the winners and losers in the shorts category:
Netflix: The streamer, which won the short category last year with If Anything Happens I Love You, offered just one film this year – the charming Aardman special Robin Robin – and it’s shortlisted. After scoring 51 Annie Award nominations earlier today, Netflix is now well positioned in the Oscar race as well.
National Film Board of Canada: The venerable government-funded Canadian filmmaking institution has three shortlisted films: Claude Cloutier’s Bad Seeds, Sandra Desmazières’s Flowing Home, and Joanna Quinn’s magnificent Affairs of the Art. The latter is one of the greatest works of hand-drawn animation I’ve seen in many years and I fully expect this film to go all the way.
International animation: Twelve out of the fifteen shortlisted films were made outside of the United States. Some of them we anticipated, like Affairs of the Art, Robin Robin, and Souvenir Souvenir. But there’s also quite a few surprises, like Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice, Boxballet, Only a Child, and Step Into the River. Also surprising: the Chilean film Bestia, an excellent film that we predicted would be shortlisted, but also half-expected it not to be because of its challenging subject matter. All in all, this category has greatly benefitted from the expansion from ten to fifteen films, opening the doors for quirky films that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Reza Riahi’s The Musician: Speaking of quirky films, The Musician is not only unique for being cut-out animation, a technique that is rarely recognized by the Academy, but also because its director is Iranian. If nominated, Riahi (who grew up in Iran and now lives in France) would become the first Iranian nominated in the animated short category. Iranian – and Iranian diaspora – artists and filmmakers have been nominated 22 times at the Oscars, winning three times, but they’ve yet to be recognized in the animated short category; The Musician is a unique and thought-provoking film that has a shot at breaking that barrier.
Pixar: The beloved Disney-owned studio has either been nominated or won in this category for the last six years in a row. This year, its two submitted productions – Twenty Something and Nona – were both left off the shortlist. While both films are significantly lacking in the story department, that hasn’t stopped the Academy in the past from nominating Pixar shorts. But Academy members woke up this year and didn’t give an automatic slot to Pixar. It’s not a total loss for Disney though; Walt Disney Animation Studios had one of its two submissions – Us Again – shortlisted.
Apple: The tech giant, which was nominated in the last edition in the animated feature category with Wolfwalkers, had pegged its 2022 animation Oscar hopes on a single short, Blush. It’s a solid production and could have been a likely Oscar contender if not for the baggage associated with the film. Blush, you see, is the first new production from the John Lasseter-led Skydance Animation, and by the looks of it, Academy voters aren’t quite ready to welcome Lasseter back with open arms into the industry. Starting next year, Apple will release Skydance’s first two Lasseter-produced features – Luck and Spellbound – and we’ll be watching closely to see how the Academy reacts to those films.
Another hugely notable development: the European animated documentary Flee, the year’s most acclaimed indie animated feature, made the shortlist for both international film (as Denmark’s entry) and documentary feature. It is also qualified for animated feature, meaning it can now potentially be nominated in all three categories.
Among critics’ groups, Flee has won six times for animated feature, six times for documentary, and twice for international feature, so it’s been competitive in all categories. How the Academy places the film will say a lot about the organization’s tastes.
The ten films shortlisted in the visual effects category are listed below in alphabetical order by title:
- Black Widow
- Free Guy
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife
- Godzilla vs. Kong
- The Matrix Resurrections
- No Time to Die
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
All members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts and interviews with the artists from each of the shortlisted films on Saturday, January 29, 2022. Branch members will vote on the final nominees.
Correction: “Only A Child” was incorrectly identified as a British film. It is a Swiss film. The director Simone Giampaolo lives in the U.K.
Pictured at top: “Affairs of the Art,” “Flee”