2024 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

The Oscar nominated animation shorts include two from the U.S. (although neither from Disney or Pixar) with the remainder hailing from Israel, Iran and France.  All address serious issues, although the ShortsTV program being released into theaters also includes two honorable mentions, one of which, “I’m Hip,” is sheer entertainment featuring a jazz singing cat (the other, “Wild Summon,” is a live action nature documentary narrated by Marianne Faithful about salmon spawning which features computer generated humans with very wide lips in scuba gear in lieu of the fish).

Laura's Review: B+

Israeli animator Tal Kantor’s “Letter to a Pig” rotoscopes live action footage in black and white with sketching that allows the original footage of the hands and eyes of the story’s protagonists to peek through.  An elderly Holocaust survivor reads a letter he wrote to the pig he credits with saving his life as a child to a current day classroom of young teens, many of whom behave disrespectfully.  Alma, a, girl in the class, begins to daydream when the man begins to speak about vengeance, imagining that pig as both the object of extreme cruelty and rebirth as a beloved piglet.  The animation style is quite unique, but Alma’s daydream is convoluted.  B

Who would have thought Jared and Jerusha Hess, the team behind “Napoleon Dynamite,” would have the knock-out entry in animation?  “Ninety-Five Senses” has it all – a story (written by Chris Bowman and Hubbell Palmer engineered to feature different animation styles) so well thought out it feels like a real interview; outstanding voice work by narrator Tim Blake Nelson, who embodies its subject, Coy, with humor and deep feeling; and six different animation styles, one bookending Coy’s interview in animated watercolor, the other five representing each of the five senses Coy explores in memory.  And why is he looking back?  Coy is awaiting execution on death row, his final meal just delivered.  He deeply regrets his crime, one with unintended consequences, but most of his reminisces are joyful, playful, poetic and relatable.  A

Iranian director Yegane Moghaddam’s “Our Uniform” begins with a disclaimer that the short is not criticizing the hijab or those who wear it, just representing Iranian schools, where the hijab is mandatory (perhaps necessary to pass Iranian censors?).  While the story is simple, a young girl narrating her desire to break free of it (‘sometimes I left my hair out because I felt prettier’) while authority figures police infractions, the animation is the draw here, the action all taking place on the fabrics it addresses.  A school bus traverses the titular uniform, riding along its seams and avoiding the buttons which are its obstacles.  That teacher addressing the narrator’s bangs walks up to her on a looped tape measure, pulling the hijab down over her forehead, then marching to the other end of the tape to yank it again to cover her ponytail.  It’s a clever conceit, but the film loses its specialness when the girl is finally able to shed her uniform.  B

France’s “Pachyderme” from Stéphanie Clement uses suggestion and symbolism to tell the tale of 9 year-old Louise left for summer vacations at her grandparents’ house.  With a child’s point of view, Clement builds unease via Louise’s increasingly troublesome recollections – she doesn’t like it when her parents leave, the house smells like polish in the living room and bleach in the kitchen and, when she goes to bed at night, she must pass an ominous looking mounted horn from that titular creature.  Grandma assures her all is well, but those floorboards creak at night and Louise disappears into the wallpaper.  Interiors have a burnished glow, while brighter outdoor activities, like riding a bicycle or swimming while grandfather fishes, are softly rendered.  But grandfather tells her to be ‘very still’ when he takes her into the forest at night and grandmother, never seen, tells Louise he cuts the heads off of the roses because he doesn’t like to ‘see them fade.’  The adult Louise looking back at her solemn little self is remembering sexual assault.  “Pachyderme” is the second strong contender in this category.  A

Sean Ono Lennon engaged Pixar alumnus Dave Mullins to create a piece to engage a new generation with his parents’ music.  “War Is Over! (Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko)” is a CGI animation that tells a familiar tale of two soldiers on opposite sides of the war forming a friendship, but what makes this one different is that they do not discover they are friends until they are engaged in hand-to-hand combat!  During WWI, a carrier pigeon delivers chess moves to two men playing a game, both on different fronts.  That pigeon will be the crux of everything.  The computer generated characters don’t need dialogue to flesh out personality. The short is scored by Thomas Newman, who won an Oscar for scoring another WWI movie, “1917,” but the Lennon/Ono song arrives for the short’s closing credits.  B+

Robin's Review: B+

It is hard to believe it has been a year (and, what a year!) since we last reviewed the Oscar-nominated short films. But it is that time again and, as usual, we get a variety of talented filmmakers contributing to the respective lists.

My favorite category, for many, many years has been Animation. I have matured, a little, over my long time on earth and enjoy the live action and documentary slots just as much. But, animation shorts have always had a place in my heart and this year is no different.

“Letter to a Pig”
An elderly man, Haim, a survivor of the Shoah, reads a letter from his past to a class of young teens. He tells of a harrowing incident where Nazi killers were hunting him down. He hides in a pig sty and, when searched, one pig blocks the murderers’ view. The man escaped and lived because of that pig.

The letter is a thank you to that pig and this spawns a nightmarish dream-like reaction where one girl, with her classmates, imagines the fear and evil as the old man tells his story. It is a tale of age and youth and, oddly, one with hope for future generations.  B

"Ninety-Five Senses"

“The world comes to us five different ways down the slippery tendril avenues of our five senses.” These are the words of an old man whose time on earth is coming to its last hours. He explains how the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – define our lives. But, he tells us there are more, 95 in total, that man misses because he spends his life concentrating on the five of the “Ninety-Five Senses.”

This is an intelligent examination of a man’s life and the decisions he has made – bad and good – that have set his life’s path. It also reflects on how that life could have been had different decisions been made. The man’s pragmatic view of death – his imposed by the state – closely aligns with mine.

“Our Uniform”
A young girl in Teheran starts her day by putting on her uniform – a hijab that will cover all of her hair but not her face. She heads to school where she and the other students must denounce the USA. This spawns a social commentary on the use of uniforms in our society as a way to control an entire segment of that restrictive society – primarily women – in “Our Uniform.”

This reflection on society shows that things like a hijab are not the only “uniforms” our male-dominated social system demands of us – particularly women. As the young girl grows and leaves her home, she realizes that the uniforms of her youth may not exist for her, but they are always there.  B


A young girl, whose parents are having problems, is shipped off to grandma and grandpa for the summer. She spends time playing and swimming and with her grandfather but, when he takes her out one night to “listen to the animals” the idyll is over and something monstrous takes its place in “Pachyderme.”
As I watched this simple and powerful little animation, I thought it was about a young girl dealing with family problems that she simply wants to disappear from. Then, the idyll of being in the safe arms of grandma and grandpa changes to something much more different – and terrifying. It is a gut punch.  B+

“War Is Over”
The war is raging on but that does not mean that the men are without distraction. One straps a message to a pigeon and sends it off over the turbulent and explosive battlefield. It lands in enemy territory and delivers its important message – a chess move – in “War is Over.”
The intrepid little bird braves the dangers, the shooting and explosions and delivers the soldiers’ moves and, along the way, becomes a hero to the men on both sides of the front. Then, when the game ends, our little hero delivers the last and most important message of all.  A-

ShortsTV releases the 2024 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts packages in theaters on 2/16/24.  Click here for theater information.