2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 3)

Starting February 17, the 2023 Academy Award-nominated short films will arrive in theaters. ShortsTV has made all three categories (animated, live-action, documentary) available to audiences since 2006. Visit the website here to learn more about the participating theaters and how to purchase tickets. See them before the upcoming Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 12.


This year’s selections are an eclectic bunch. Once upon a time, Disney ruled this category, then Pixar. They’re both absent this year. Apple TV+’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is the only release from a major studio. Most prognosticators predict its high profile (and positive spirit) could push it toward a win. However, it’s neither my fav nor the one I think will ultimately take the prize.

I’ve ranked these shorts in order from best to least favorite. With that said, this is a strong group of nominees.

Director: João Gonzalez

A father and son produce ice they sell to the village far below their home. This undertaking is easier said than done. They live high above in a house built on a steep cliff. They jump in tandem using a parachute. In this touching portrait of a family, filmmaker João Gonzalez utilizes expressionless faces, no dialogue, and a haunting piano score to convey their close bond. His use of unique camera angles and perspective exploited my fear of heights in a way that few live-action pictures have. It is also the first Portuguese film ever nominated for an Oscar. Hold onto your hat! A real charmer. My pick for what SHOULD WIN in this category.

AUSTRALIA / 11 MINS / 2022
Director: Lachlan Pendragon

The title is the plot. A telemarketer learns that the universe isn’t real from a talking ostrich. He’s now inspired to convince his colleagues of the same thing. An existential crisis that is both amusing and appealing. The meta-ness of this account is a clever conceit. We see actual human hands that highlight the mechanics of stop-motion animation. I’m reminded of the classic 1953 Chuck Jones short Duck Amuck, an early example that acknowledged the creatives behind the scenes. Director Lachlan Pendragon produced this while a student at Griffith Film School in Brisbane, Australia.

UK / 35 MINS / 2022
Directors: Peter Baynton, Charlie Mackesy

British author Charlie Mackesy adapts his 2019 illustrated book of the same name with animator Peter Baynton (Over the Hill) for this short. A curious boy (Jude Coward Nicoll) is searching for home and makes an unlikely friendship with a greedy mole (Tom Hollander), an insecure fox (Idris Elba), and a wise horse (Gabriel Byrne). Not a story per see but a random collection of platitudes spoken by animals. “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” the boy asks. “Help,” the horse replies. “Asking for help isn’t giving up. It’s refusing to give up.” Heartwarming sure, but every successive adage feels like a game of oneupmanship attempting to be that a-ha moment. If you’ve longed for uplifting affirmations delivered by animals in a cartoon, then your prayers have been answered.

USA / 25 MINS / 2022
Director: Sara Gunnarsdóttir

Director Sara Gunnarsdóttir (animated sequences in The Diary of a Teenage Girl & The Case Against Adnan Syed) and writer Pamela Ribon (Ralph Breaks the Internet, Moana) offer reflections of a 15-year-old girl set in the 1990s. A series of five chapters interspersed with actual footage of the writer. The scattered vignettes emphasize the slim pickings in the dating pool for the protagonist. This rotoscoped animation style recalls a much cruder version of Richard Linklater’s animated efforts. Her personal experiences are entertaining, sure, but I’m sorry. That ribald title is too tempting. I predict Academy members will vote so they can hear the presenter say those words on Oscar night. My pick for what WILL WIN in this category.

CANADA / 7 MINS / 2022
Directors: Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby

Inspired by actual events. In 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, causing a major explosion. A sailor was blown skyward and flew a distance of two kilometers. (That’s 1.24 miles for us Americans). He landed uphill, sans clothes, and unharmed. Over a century later, that incident is the basis for this tale. A naked dude is depicted flying through the sky while his life flashes before him. Every year at least one animated submission offers full-frontal nudity. This is that entry, and it includes a 360-degree view of a tumbling torso.


2 Responses to “2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 1 of 3)”

  1. Your descriptions of some of these really make me want to see them, esp. The Flying Sailor. That is just an absurd situation. How in the heck did he travel that distance and land unharmed

    Liked by 1 person

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