2024 Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films Review

Starting February 16, the 19th annual Oscar Nominated Short Films will be available in over 700 theaters globally and in 75+ theatrical markets including New York and Los Angeles. This is the only opportunity for audiences to watch all of the short film nominees in theaters before the 96th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 10, 2024. To learn more about the participating theaters and how to purchase tickets which are now available, please visit www.shorts.tv/theoscarshorts. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation, or Documentary.

The nominees are:

Letter to a Pig (director Tal Kantor; France, Israel; 17 min)

Hiam, an elderly Holocaust survivor, is a guest to a classroom. He reads to the students a letter he wrote to the pig he believes saved his life when Nazi soldiers searched the sty he was hiding in. One girl empathizes with his story and is affected by it. The use of rotoscoping the characters brought a tragic sense of realism to the events.

Ninety-Five Senses (directors Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess; USA; 13 min)

At the end of his life, an elderly man (voiced by Tim Blake Nelson) wades through a stream-of-conscious monologue about his life told through experiences of his five senses. The animation and the way the story plays out is engaging, but how the story plays out takes such a dark turn it’s hard not to want to completely disengage from the man and the film when that plot point is revealed.

Our Uniform (director Yegane Moghaddam; Iran; 7 min)

An Iranian girl reveals what it is like growing up in Iran. While she doesn’t present new information about the draconian situation she and her classmates live under, what makes the short so memorable is much of the animation is executed in fascinating ways upon pieces on clothing. In fact, the visuals are so impressive I found myself so absorbed that I would miss the translated subtitles.

Pachyderme (director Stéphanie Clément; France; 11 min)

One summer, nine-year-old Louise is left to stay with her grandparents for 10 days, but she “doesn’t like when my parents leave me.” The house is filled with boards that creak when walked upon and contain animal eyes that look down upon her in her bedroom. She hides in the wallpaper after her Granny dismisses her fears as nothing could happen to her. Alone with her grandfather, they spend the day fishing and the night listening to creatures. There’s an ominous tone during their time together that suggests the child is being molested but then the story comes to an abrupt end without any revelation or resolution. This may be a realistic outcome to this type of or this specific situation in real life, but for a story it’s unsatisfying.

War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko (director Dave Mullins; USA; 11 min)

From a story by Mullins and Sean Ono Lennon, and specifically inspired by the song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, the film sans dialogue tells the story of two soldiers on opposite sides of a battlefield playing chess, who send their moves by carrier pigeon, until each army is called to the battlefield. Written in 1971 about the Vietnam War, the continued failure to see our shared humanity and the failure of war unfortunately make the song relevant. While the film has a happy end, it’s impossible not to think about real-world events in Ukraine, Gaza, and other current fighting around the world that counter the fictional resolution.

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Personally, I would vote for Our Uniform because of its use of the medium felt like something I hadn’t seen or at least can’t remember the last time. I am torn about what the Academy will select as both Letter to a Pig and War Is Over! cover topics that voters have connected with in the past. I lean towards War as it’s topical and is connected to a Beatle, but Letter winning wouldn’t surprise me.

In addition to the nominees, this year’s program will include two “Highly Commended” animation films: I’m Hip (director John Musker; USA; 4 min) and Wild Summon (directors Karni Arieli and Saul Freed; UK; 14 min).

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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