It’s almost time for the 2017 Academy Awards, which means it’s time for you and your friends to gather for your Oscars party, make any last-second changes to your Oscars pool, and get ready to celebrate/lament the winners on Hollywood’s biggest night. While most of the focus will be on the Big Five–Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay–there are a lot of people with tremendous talent behind the scenes of this and every year’s best films.
And yet, while live-action projects certainly get their fair share of the spotlight, most of the attention for animated fare comes in one category: Best Animated Feature Film. That’s all well and good, and most deserving, but there’s also a category for a medium that encourages experimentation and exploration of more taboo themes, and offers a more flexible range of art styles than feature films can normally afford: animated short films.
Past Oscar-winners for Animated Shorts include last year’s Bear Story, which was inspired by director Gabriel Osorio Vargas’ grandfather, who was imprisoned and exiled following Chile’s coup d’état. Of course, there’s also relatively lighter fare like Disney’s Feast and Paperman, and the odd-yet-endearing Mr Hublot and The Lost Thing. This year’s crop, like those in years passed, offers a variety of influences, art styles, technological achievements, and even maturity levels, but there are also some similarities. Borrowed Time, Pearl, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, and Blind Vaysha all deal with the theme of Time in their own unique ways, while Pixar’s short Piper is happy focusing on a chronological snapshot (while being as cute as possible in the process). Each of these films deserves to be in the Oscar conversation, but in order to ferret out a potential winner from the nominees, we took a closer look at all five contenders.