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The List Of Best Oscar Short Films & Nominees

Photograph of the blog post author, Tanja Gavrilovic

Tanja Gavrilovic


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Short Film categories have existed for decades (this is why Tom and Jerry’s episodes have seven Oscars!). Unfortunately, things are changing and the majority of short films can only qualify for Oscar consideration if they win specific film-festival prizes, or if their directors rent out a Los Angeles theatre for at least three days. Constant re-evaluation for short film categories and attempts to remove this category from selections raised many questions, one being: is cinematography next to go? Despite these attempts which have spanned decades, short films have been on the rise in recent times. In this article, we will look at what short films are, plus some Oscar-nominated short films and winners!

best oscar short films

What Is A Short Film? 

‘Short Film’ or ‘Short-Length Film’ are categories in which motion pictures are shorter than 40 minutes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences determines this timing, however, this form is shifting into different timings, mostly for the reason previously described. It is considered that short films are low-budget films, and therefore these films have a long way yet to go, starting with local, national, and international selections at festivals. Another assumption is that short films are made by independent filmmakers who are struggling to get funds for their projects. 

Of course, statistically, most short films are low-budget and made by independent filmmakers but this doesn’t mean that some of those films aren’t masterpieces. Until these endless political issues are discussed, the Short Film category still exists, and I will now present some of the best short films, nominated short films, and Oscar-winning short films out there.

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2020

First, let’s take a look at the nominations and winners for this unprecedented year of 2020. This year’s short film category was divided into three major parts: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action. The ceremony was held on February 9th, 2020.

Nominees For Short Animated Film Category

Daughter (Dcera)

Czechia / 15 mins / 2019

This short animated drama tells a story about the bond between a father and a daughter, and how unspoken hurt they feel disrupts the bond, as well as the healing process. The story is based on a childhood memory and how misunderstanding her father leads to deeper issues.

This interesting stop-motion animation with misshapen figurines plays a key role in transferring emotions into animation, just like distorted sloppy painted characters present misshapen memories.

The director and screenplay writer is Daria Kashcheeva, and the film is rated 6.5/10 stars on IMDb.


France / 12mins / 2019

This Oscar-nominated short film animated drama tells the story of an aging couple. In this film, the couple must deal with the husband’s struggle with dementia. The housebound painted slowly falls prey to dementia, with his world dissolving into vague, impressionistic shapes.

The director and writer is Bruno Collet, and the film has a 8.0/10 stars rating on IMDb.


USA / 9 mins / 2019

This short animated drama tells a story of a stray kitten and its unlikely connection with a pit bulldog. For this independent and fierce kitten, a new friendship is a first. This simple animation is comedic, and the title is spot on!

The director and writer is Rosana Sullivan, and the film has a high rating of 8.0/10 stars on IMDb.


USA / 8 mins / 2018

This short animated drama tells a story about a man’s childhood back in the 1990s, where he lived with his somewhat annoying baby sister. This wool animation is very interesting, and it has a fun, nostalgic retro feel. 

The director and writer is Sigi Song, and the film has a rating of 7.1/10 stars on IMDb.

And The Oscar Went To…

Hair Love

USA / 7 mins / 2019

This Oscar-winning animated short film tells the story of a father attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time, as her Mother struggles with cancer. This is a comedy film, but it also packs a deeper emotional backstory.  This film won the Oscar in 2020 for Best Animated Short Film.

The directors are Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and Bruce W. Smith, and the writer is Matthew A. Cherry. The film is rated 7.4/10 stars on IMDb.

Nominees For Short Documentary Category 

In The Absence

USA / 29 mins / 2018

This short documentary tells a story of a ferry that sank in 2014 in South Korea. Hundreds of people, mostly children, lost their lives, and so it is a raw subject handled beautifully.

The director is Seung-jun Yi.

Life Overtakes Me

USA / 37 mins / 2019

This short documentary tells a story about hundreds of child refugees in Sweden. These children withdraw into a coma-like illness called Resignation Syndrome.

The directors of this film are John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson.

St. Louis Superman

USA / 28 mins / 2019

This short documentary-drama tells the story of Bruce Ferguson, who is an activist and state representative from Missouri known as Superman. This activist is forced to deal with his childhood mental trauma.

The film’s directors are Sami Khan and Smriti Mundhra, and it is rated 6.8/10 on IMDb.

Walk Run Cha-Cha

USA / 20 min / 2019

This short documentary centers around Paul and Millie Cao, who are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor in Southern California after losing their youth in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The director and writer is Laura Nix, and is rated 6.0/10 starts on OMDb

And The Short Film Oscar Went To:

Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You Are A Girl)

UK / 40 mins / 2018

This short sports documentary tells the story of young girls in Afghanistan who are learning to read, write and skateboard in Kabul.

The director is Carol Dysinger, and the film is rated 7.5/10 stars on IMDb. ‘Learning To Skateboard’ won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2020.

Nominees For Short Film Live Action Category


Tunisia-Canada / 25 mins / 2018

This short drama film tells the story of Mohamed, who is deeply shaken when his eldest son Malik returns home with his mysterious wife.

The director and writer is Meryam Joobeur, and the film is rated 7.0/10 stars on IMDb.

Nefta Football Club

France / 17 mins / 2018 

This short comedy-drama film centers around Abdallah and Mohamed, who are two football-playing boys in a Tunisian village. Their adventure changes when they find a mule that carries some white powder on its back.

The director and writer is Yves Piat, and the film is rated 7.2/10 stars on IMDb.


USA / 23 mins / 2019

This short drama focuses on two sisters, Saria (12) and Ximena (14), as they fight against daily physical abuse in an institution in Guatemala. Their story begins after the fire in Virgen de la Asuncion. 

The director and writer is Brayan Buckley, and the film is rated 7.1/10 stars on IMDb.

A Sister

Belgium / 16 mins / 2018

best Oscar short films

This short drama thriller tells the story of Alie, who is in danger and needs to make an important phone call.

The director and writer is Delphine Girard, and the film is rated 7.5/10 stars on IMBd.

And The Short Film Oscar Went To…

The Neighbors Window

USA / 20 mins / 2019

This short drama tells the story of a middle-aged woman and her young children, exploring how their lives change when two young free-spirited neighbors move in across the street.

The director and screenplay writer is Marshall Curry, and the film is rated 7.2/10 stars on IMDb.

Best Oscar Short Films Of All Time

As we can see from this year’s selections and nominations, there are a variety of genres and stories to be told. Short-form films are a specific art, and to be able to tell a story in just a couple of minutes deserves a lot of respect and admiration. 

Now, let’s look back in time and name some of the best nominated short films of all time that won an Oscar!

The Music Box (1932)

This vintage short comedy introduces us to delivery men Laurel and Hardy, who struggle to push a piano up the flights of stairs.

This film was directed by James Parrott.

Teddy The Rough Rider (1940)

This film is a futuristic overlook of Theodore Roosevelt’s political life. 

The film is directed by Ray Enright.

The Red Balloon (1956)

This short comedy-drama is an extremely famous film about a boy and his balloon. It is one of the must-see films for every film student and is written and directed by Albert Lamorisse. The special effects are still entrancing today. The editing and camera work manages to turn the alleys of old Paris into the canvas on which this infamous fantasy is painted – a must-watch!

Le Poulet (1963)

This short comedy tells the story of a family that visits a chicken farm. The son brings home a chicken, and his father wants to eat it if it doesn’t lay eggs. The comedy is based on the boy trying to save the chicken and is well worth a watch.

Angel & Big Joe (1976)

This short drama follows Angel, a teenage migrant worker, and Joe, a lineman for a telephone company, and their rose-growing business. They learn to trust each other, but Angel has to relocate because her family is looking for work. This film was directed by Bert Salzman.

Boys & Girls (1983)

This short drama tells the story of a young girl, who lives on a fox farm in rural Canada. Her unobservant parents expect her obedience as firm gender roles are established.

The film is directed by Don McBrearty.

Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life (1993)

This short comedy tells a story about Gregor, who wakes up as Kafka and is constantly interrupted by knife sellers, party noise, girls, and other dreamlike visions. This film was directed by Peter Capaldi.

Six Shooter (2004)

This is a dark Irish comedy that follows an older man, who loses his wife. On a sad train journey, he encounters a psychotic young oddball. The film is written and directed by Martin McDonagh.

Hotel Chevalier (2007)

Here is a great example of how powerful short films can be! This film was directed and written by the infamous Wes Anderson. The film tells a story about the history of love.

Skin (2018)

This short drama follows two gangs in a ruthless war, all stemming from a black man smiling at a 10-year-old boy. This film was directed by Guy Nattiv. 

Now You Know About The Best Oscar Short Films!

To win an Oscar is every filmmaker’s dream, and is certainly an honor. However, many other festivals such as Sundance, Berlin Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival are just as prestigious, and welcome all forms of artists interpretation. It takes a lot of skill to incorporate all film elements in just a couple of minutes, and in my opinion, this category of film should be equally promoted and supported. Many famous filmmakers also started their careers in short films, and various movie production companies have created numerous short films and won many Oscars. 

It is uncertain what will happen to the Oscar-nominated short film category in the future, but I for one sure hope it stays!


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