Year in and year out, this is always one of my favourite categories, boasting a wonderfully diverse array of styles that make it well worth your time to seek out the Oscar Shorts program that brings them to theatres. While I still lament that Glen Keane's stunning Duet was left on the sidelines (ditto Bill Plympton's trippy Footprints), there's still lots to enjoy in the five toons that made the cut.
The shortest of the shorts is A Single Life, which gets in, sets up its premise
(a vinyl record which can move time forward or backward), drops its morbid punchline, gets its laugh and gets out in under three minutes. The Academy has nominated a few of these short-sweet-and-to-the-point gag films in the past, such as Maestro, Octopadi and Fresh Guacamole, but they never stand a chance against contenders who are more substantial in both story material and length.
The Danish Poet -- trumping The Little Matchgirl much to my frustration, but I can't begrudge any Can-con succeeding at the Oscars. Her current nomination is for the similarly styled Me and My Moulton, drawn with the same hard-lined minimalism and bright colours of her previous works. The somewhat autobiographical memoir of her growing up in Norway touches on themes of family and the desire to fit in, all with a light-hearted wit and flourishes of whimsy that make it highly palatable. Might be a dark horse.
Will win: The Dam Keeper
Should win: The Dam Keeper
Should have been nominated: Duet