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Knowing the Academy’s top 10 animated shorts doesn’t make Oscar predictions any easier

November 20, 2009 |  6:43 pm

So 10 films, out of 37 submitted to qualify for the Best Animated Short at the 82nd Oscars, have been selected to move forward in the voting process (see list below), but predicting a front-runner from this group is easier said than done.

The Best Animated Short category has been historically a bit of a wild card, due partly to the fact that there are no advance awards to help in the decision-making (there is no corresponding category with the Golden Globes or an award show of equal magnitude), and partly to the fact that because academy voters must view all of the nominees, their decisions in the past have been based as much on their hearts as critical acclaim and box office returns.

For example,while it seems a safe assumption that Pixar's "Partly Cloudy" should be ahead of the race due to its placement ahead of the blockbuster "Up," one need only to look at the 2008 Pixar entry, "Presto," which played with "Wall-E." Critics and fans alike were effusive to a fault over this charming short about a magician and his highly uncooperative rabbit, and the race seemed to place it head-to-head with the equally amusing French short "Oktapodi." However, the winner of the 2008 Oscar was, in fact, the quieter,more emotionally driven (and less well-known) "La Maison En Petits Cubes" from Japanese animator Kunio Kato.

In fact, Pixar hasn't had a lock on the Animated Shorts category since 2001's "For the Birds"; all of its subsequent nominations ("Presto," 2006's "Lifted," 2005's "One Man Band," 2003's "Boundin'" and 2002's "Mike's New Car'") lost in their respective races, as did such established favorites as cult hero Bill Plympton's "Your Face" in 1987 and "Guard Dog" in 2004, and even Walt Disney Productions, whose "Mickey's Christmas Carol" failed to bring home the trophy in 1983. On the other hand, the much-adored Nick Park, whose "A Matter of Loaf and Death" is among the current 10, has won three of his four Oscar noms ("Creature Comforts" in 1990, "The Wrong Trousers" in 1993 and 1995's "A Close Shave"), so popularity can play a role in the final decision. Or... not.

Whatever the case, you'll have to wait until Feb. 2 to find out which five from this list will be the official nominees; that's when the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee will release its decisions along with the other nominees for the 82nd Oscars. The ceremony itself airs on March 7.

They are as follows:

“The Cat Piano,” Eddie White and Ari Gibson, directors (The People’s Republic of Animation)

“French Roast,” Fabrice O. Joubert, director (Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films)

“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” Nicky Phelan, director, and Darragh O’Connell, producer (Brown Bag Films)

“The Kinematograph,” Tomek Baginski, director-producer (Platige Image)

“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte),” Javier Recio Gracia, director (Kandor Graphics and Green Moon)

“Logorama,” Nicolas Schmerkin, producer (Autour de Minuit)

“A Matter of Loaf and Death,” Nick Park, director (Aardman Animations Ltd.)

“Partly Cloudy,” Peter Sohn, director (Pixar Animation Studios)

“Runaway,” Cordell Barker, director (National Film Board of Canada)

“Variete,” Roelof van den Bergh, director (il Luster Productions)

-- Paul Gaita

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