Generally between forty to sixty animated shorts qualify annually for the Best Animated Short Film category of the Academy Awards. This month the Academy will begin to winnow down those films into what will become a shortlist of ten films, and then finally, five nominees.

Despite the public’s growing interest in short-form animation, the category remains among the most obscure of the Oscar categories. To inspire a better understanding of who the contenders are for this award, we’ve been tracking the animated shorts that have performed strongly at domestic and international film festivals throughout the year, and we’ve combined that data with the Academy’s own list of qualifying film festival awards (download the PDF) to come up with the following list of 30 likely contenders in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Just to be clear: we don’t know whether all of the films on this list have officially qualified for Academy consideration. Also, there will be other films that qualify which aren’t on this list. Having said that, this is the first-ever attempt by any animation media outlet to highlight the contenders in this Oscar category, and you can be certain that at least some of the films on the list will be nominated this year.

Absent Minded
dir. Roberto Catani, Italy
dir. Tomek Ducki, Poland
The Bigger Picture
dir. Daisy Jacobs, UK
Bus Stories
dir. Tali, Canada
dir. Alan Holly, Ireland
The Dam Keeper
dir. Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, USA
dir. Glen Keane, USA
dir. Patrick Osborne, USA
dir. Bill Plympton, USA
dir. Yoriko Mizushiri, Japan
dir. Reda Bartkute, Lithuania
dir. Delphine Hermans, Belgium
Hasta Santiago
dir. Mauro Carraro, Switzerland/France
dir. Piotr Dumala, Poland
dir. James Ford Murphy, USA
Love Games
dir. Yumi Joung, South Korea
Mademoiselle Kiki et les Montparnos
dir. Amélie Harrault, France
Man on the Chair
dir. Dahee Jeong, France/Korea
Me and My Moulton
dir. Torill Kove, Canada/Norway
Me + Her
dir. Joseph Oxford, USA
No Fish Where to Go
dir. Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau, Canada
The Obvious Child
dir. Stephen Irwin, UK
dir. Santiago ‘Bou’ Grasso, France/Argentina
dir. Gerd Gockell, Germany/Switzerland
Rabbit and Deer
dir. Péter Vácz, Hungary
Sleeping with the Fishes
dir. Yousif Al-Khalifa, UK
Symphony no. 42
dir. Réka Bucsi, Hungary
Through the Hawthorn
dir. Anna Benner, Pia Borg and Gemma Burditt, UK
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
dir. Konstantin Bronzit, Russia
dir. Bernardo Britto, USA