Oscars 2023: Best Animated Short Predictions

After its Annie wins, "The Boy, the Mole, The Horse and The Fox" is still the one to beat, but the Annie-winning "Ice Merchants" has emerged as the challenger.
the boy the mole the fox and the horse oscars best animated short

We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts for what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The State of the Race

The exquisitely hand-drawn short, “The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse,” solidified its standing as the Oscar frontrunner with its four Annie wins February 25 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. This followed its BAFTA prize for Best British Animated Short on February 19. The  tender tribute to the virtues of kindness from British illustrator Charlie Mackesy (adapted from his bestselling picture book, which he co-directed with Peter Baynton) took earned Best Special Production, Best Character Animation — TV/Media, Best Direction — TV/Media, and Best Editorial — TV/Media.

“The Boy,” which launched as a TV special (produced by Matthew Freud in association with NoneMore and Bad Robot for Apple TV+ and BBC) has been extremely well-and would represent Apple’s first Oscar win for the animated short category.

However, another beautifully hand-drawn short — “Ice Merchants” — has emerged as the primary challenger for the Oscar after winning the Annie for Best Short Subject. From Portuguese illustrator-director João Gonzalez,  the short explores the unspoken love between a father and son, who are isolated on the side of a large icy mount-side cliff, where they struggle each day to transport and sell their ice. Produced by Bruno Caetano in association with COLA Animation & Wild Stream, “Ice Merchants” contains both a heartfelt story an a colorful graphic design and vertiginous camera movement. It also has the added distinction of being the most acclaimed Oscar-qualifying short in history with nine festival prizes.

The other three Oscar nominees are “My Year of Dicks,” “The Flying Sailor,” and “An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It.”

Annecy winner “My Year of Dicks” represents the adult animated contender. The psychedelic and hilarious mind-bender from director Sara Gunnarsdóttir and creator Pamela Ribon, is loosely based on Ribon’s experiences as a Houston teen trying to lose her virginity in the early ’90s. The mixed media work, originally created for FX, received unexpected global attention when Riz Ahmed’s recitation of its title — followed by that of fellow Best Animated Short nominee “An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It” — caused fits of laughter from Ahmed’s co-presenter Allison Williams and the audience at the nominations announcement.

The NFB’s Ottawa-winning “The Flying Sailor,” directed by previous nominees Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, finds beauty in the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917 through a combination of 2D and CG.

“Ostrich,” from Australian Student Academy Award winner Lachlan Pendragon, is a delightful stop-motion comedy about a young office worker who uncovers the flaws in his stop-motion universe with the aid of an ostrich.

Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood to win:

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”
“Ice Merchants”
“My Year of Dicks”
“The Flying Sailor”
“An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It”

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