As the temperature drops and we head into winter, the race for the upcoming animated short Oscar field is heating up.
In August, we looked at nine hopeful shorts that had performed well on the festival circuit during the first half of 2022. Now, we’re back with another list of qualified shorts that could make an impact this awards season. More lists will follow in the coming weeks.
To qualify, short films must have either won specific awards at an Oscar-qualifying festival, won a Student Academy Award, or met certain public exhibition criteria before September 30, 2022.
Once a category that was largely dominated by independent films, the best animated short race has recently become a favored route for major studios to score some awards recognition. In this group of films, for example, there are titles from Psyop, Canada’s NFB, and Disney-owned FX Productions.
Christopher at Sea
Director: Tom C J Brown
Countries: France, U.K., U.S.
Christopher is a soft-spoken young man who has booked a trans-Atlantic voyage on a cargo ship occupied almost exclusively by professional sailors. While aboard, Christopher – who starts the trip pining over the girl he left back home – meets a carefree engineer named Valentin who sets his head spinning more than the worst bout of seasickness could. Picturesque scenes of a glittering sunset over a calm ocean are matched in visual appeal by those of swirling winds and choppy seas. Christopher at Sea is Produce by Miyu, Psyop, and Temple Carrington & Brown.
The Flying Sailor
Directors: Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby
No strangers to the Oscars – they share a pair of nominations and Tilby has another of her own, the prolific Canadian filmmaking duo are back with The Flying Sailor, a historical fiction based on the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917. The short depicts a single, silent event caused by a loud, violent disaster when two ships collided in the harbor. Told with shocking and effective serenity, a sailor is launched to the heavens by the blast and his life flashes before his eyes. The Flying Sailor premiered at Annecy in June before making stops at Toronto and the Ottawa International Animation Festival, among other events.
The Fourth Wall
Director: Mahboobeh Kalaee
Qualified: Ann Arbor Film Festival
Featuring some of the best camerawork we’ve seen all year, The Fourth Wall unspools in Kalaee’s real kitchen, where the filmmaker experiments with a dynamic blend of 2d, stop-motion animation, and just a bit of live-action footage. In the space and stuck – quite literally – between his parents, a young boy with a stutter explains his naïve worldview and a desire to have siblings, not understanding the toll that would take on his parents.
Bird in the Peninsula
Director: Atsushi Wada
Countries: France, Japan
Qualified: Ottawa International Animation Festival
After premiering with a jury special mention at Berlin, Bird in the Peninsula has had one of the year’s most successful festival runs for an animated short. It screened in competition at Annecy, Fantoche (winning best international film), and Ottawa, winning the grand prize at the latter and earning its Oscars qualification there. The short turns on a group of boys rehearsing a traditional dance when one gets distracted by a friendly bird.
My Year of Dicks
Director: Sara Gunnarsdóttir
Winner of the Annecy Cristal for a tv production back in June, this rotoscoped, heavy metal dark comedy mashes genres to tell the tale of a stubborn 15-year-old who is determined to lose her virginity, despite the lack of viable partners in outer Houston in the early 1990s. The film’s impressive festival resume includes award wins at Ottawa, Chicago, and SXSW. Produced by Wonder Killer, Cat’s Pajamas, and FX Productions.