From an Australian Bilby to a Delectable Dumpling: The 10 Animated Shorts Vying for Oscar Noms

7:30 AM 1/10/2019

by Tara Bitran

'Age of Sail,' 'Bao' and the other eight films on the Academy's shortlist are led by tiny figures who make big impressions.

'Bao'
'Bao'
Courtesy of Disney

  • 'Age of Sail'

    Courtesy of Google Inc.

    A longtime animator for Disney who helped bring characters like Rapunzel and Elsa to life, John Kahrs won the Oscar in 2012 for his touching short Paperman. His latest project moves into the VR realm, capturing the feeling of being adrift at sea in 1900, with Ian McShane voice-starring as the curmudgeonly sailor of the North Atlantic who rescues young Lara (voiced by Cathy Ang) when she mysteriously falls overboard.

  • 'Animal Behaviour'

    Courtesy of TIFF

    Marking their return to shorts 25 years after their Oscar-winning Bob's Birthday, Vancouver-based pair Alison Snowden and David Fine explore group therapy — through the lens of animals. Featuring a ragtag crew led by a canine psychiatrist, Animal Behaviour follows an ape with anger issues as he starts his first session, joining other attendees including an obsessive-compulsive cat and a pig with an eating disorder.

  • 'Bao'

    Courtesy of Disney Pixar

    This delectable Pixar short, which played before Incredibles 2 in theaters this summer, is the animation powerhouse's first shortform project with a female director, Domee Shi. Inspired by Shi's own upbringing as a child of Chinese immigrants in Canada, Bao centers on a woman whose world shifts when a dumpling comes to life and in essence becomes her surrogate child.

  • 'Bilby'

    Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation

    It's just a hop, skip and a jump for this rabbit-bandicoot. The adorable Perry, who was supposed to be the lead character in DreamWorks Animation's since-canceled animated feature Larrikins, finds himself tasked with protecting Kylie, a little bird, from the dangers of the wild.

  • 'Bird Karma'

    Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

    William Salazar began work on Bird Karma more than 20 years ago. Now, it's the first project from DreamWorks Animation's Shorts Program. The bird in question is of the long-legged variety and must face the repercussions of becoming obsessed with a red goldfish.

  • 'Late Afternoon'

    Courtesy of Cartoon Saloon

    Are memories ever really lost forever? In Louise Bagnall's project for Cartoon Saloon, the Irish studio responsible for Song of the Sea and 2017's The Breadwinner, a woman with dementia delves into her recollections, shifting between the past and the present state.

  • 'Lost & Found'

    Courtesy of Lost & Found

    The wonders one can find in an unassuming lost-and-found bin. In this Australian stop-motion short from Andrew Goldmsith and Bradley Slabe, a crocheted dinosaur must save his true love, a knitted fox, by unraveling himself — literally.

  • 'One Small Step'

    Courtesy of Taiko Studios

    This Small Step is a giant leap for Taiko Studios. The studios' first film project, the animated short charts the story of Luna, a Chinese-American girl who dreams of reaching the stars herself by becoming an astronaut.

  • 'Pepe le Morse'

    Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

    Lucrece Andreae's short takes a distinct look at the disparity between adults' and children's interpretations of what's going on during a family trip to the beach. Partly inspired by her own family members, French filmmaker Andreae chose the dunes of southwestern France's Landes as the setting for the foreboding nature of the seaside.

  • 'Weekends'

    Courtesy of Trevor Jimenez

    Set in 1980s Toronto, Trevor Jimenez's animated short tackles the difficult transition of a young boy shuffling between the homes of his recently divorced parents on the weekend. Jimenez works as a Pixar story artist, and his 15-minute project is part of the company's co-op program, an internal incubator.

    This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.