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With No Studio Entries, Best Animated Short Is an Open Race for Indies and International Titles

Thanks to a quirk in scheduling, no Disney, Pixar, or Netflix shorts were submitted.

In a still from "The Flying Sailor," a naked figure flies through the air

“The Flying Sailor”

Courtesy of the NFB


This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Best Animated Short predictions for the 2023 Oscars, originally published January 3, 2023. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.

Final voting is March 2-7, 2023. And 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. We update predictions through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2023 Oscar picks.

The first thing that stands out about this year’s shortlist of 15 animated shorts is the absence of any big studio works. No Pixar, Disney, Netflix, DreamWorks, Sony, Skydance, or Aardman in the running. Turns out that’s because they all sat this one out without any submissions — which is a rarity. The only major distributor is Apple Original Films, which has one of the frontrunners: “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse” (U.K./U.S., 2D), British illustrator Charlie Mackesy’s hand-drawn story extolling the virtues of kindness, as seen through the unlikely friendship between the titular characters (directed by Peter Baynton and Mackesy). Overall, this means a much wider field for indie and international contenders.

Among the other frontrunners: “Ice Merchants” (Portugal, France, U.K., 2D), from Cannes winner João Gonzalez, which explores the daily Herculean feats of isolated father and son ice sellers through a breathtakingly graphic design and vertiginous camera work; “The Flying Sailor” (National Film Board of Canada, 2D/CG), the Ottawa and Toronto winner from the award-winning team of Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, which captures beauty in the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917; “My Year of Dicks” (U.S., mixed media), a psychedelic and hilarious mind-bender from Annecy winner Sara Gunnarsdóttir and creator Pamela Ribon, loosely based on Ribon’s experiences as a Houston teen trying to lose her virginity in the early ’90s; and “Black Slide” (Israel, CG), in which a grieving young boy sneaks into the world’s scariest waterslide, directed by Uri Lotan.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”

Apple Original Films

Other 2D selections making the category’s shortlist include “The Debutante” (U.K., 2D), Elizabeth Hobbs’ offbeat look at a spirited young woman who persuades a hyena from the London Zoo to take her place at a dinner dance in her honor; “The Garbage Man” (Portugal, 2D), an animated doc from Animafest Zagreb winner Laura Gonçalves, about her uncle Botão — a sanitation worker for 30 years in France — recalled by surviving family members; “It’s Nice in Here” (Netherlands, 2D), Robert-Jonathan Koeyers’ fractured portrait of a police shooting from multiple perspectives; and “Steakhouse” (Slovenia, Germany, France, 2D), a revenge fantasy involving a middle-aged couple, from Annecy winner Špela Cadež, which utilizes cutouts and the legendary multiplane camera technique invented by Walt Disney Studios. From the U.S., there’s “More Than I Want to Remember” (U.S., 2D), the animated doc from Tribeca winner Amy Bench, about a Congolese child refugee’s search for family (previously featured at IndieWire’s showcase with ShortsTV and NatGeo), and “New Moon” (U.S., 2D), concerning a Black mother and son discussing their hopes and dreams, from the married creative team of actor-producer Colman Domingo and Raúl Domingo, the latter of whom directed alongside Jérémie Balais and Jeff Leffig.

In a year when stop-motion could make a major impact on the Best Animated Feature field, the technique is well-represented among animated short contenders. In “An Ostrich Told Me The World is Fake and I Think I Believe It” (Griffith University, Australia, stop-motion) — from first place Student Academy Award winner Lachlan Pendragon — a telemarketer learns from a talking ostrich that he’s living in a stop-motion universe. Using paper cutout puppets, Juan Pablo Zaramella’s “Passenger” (Argentina, stop-motion) takes an absurd look at passengers on a train trying to navigate their way through unspoken social codes. “Save Ralph” (Australia, stop-motion) is a mockumentary, teaming Taika Waititi with director Spencer Susser and the Humane Society International, to tell the story of a rabbit (voiced by Waititi) that undergoes cruel experiments during cosmetic product testing. “Sierra” (Estonia, stop-motion), the Palm Springs winner from Sander Joon, charts a bizarre father-son car-race adventure.


“Ice Merchants”
“The Flying Sailor”
“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”
“My Year of Dicks”
“Black Slide”


“The Debutante”
“The Garbage Man”
“It’s Nice in Here”
“More than I Want to Remember”
“New Moon”
“An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It”
“Save Ralph”

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