At least for the last few years, the voters in this category have shunned instant gratification and gone with more impressionable rewards. This year should be no exception, and in the interest of proof, spoilers are necessary. In No Time for Nuts, another Scrat misadventure from the makers of Ice Age, the prehistoric squirrel stumbles across a time machine and chases an acorn through different times in history before the machine breaks down in the future, when his favorite nut no longer exists. Just as transparent an attempt to win an Oscar statue is Pixar’s Lifted, an unusually brutal story of an alien who has a very difficult time getting a boy (or man—it’s not exactly clear) out of his room and onto their spaceship. Yet another one-joker is Maestro, which begins with a mechanical arm primping a penguin for what appears to be an opera performance. As the camera moves around the room in tick-tock fashion, you may start to hanker for a point, which is when the filmmaker hits you with the surprise that we’re inside a cuckoo clock. Reaction to this short was insanely positive, but similar to Not Time for Nuts and Lifted, the cheer in the air didn’t exactly linger for very long. For sentimental purposes, The Little Matchgirl should have an edge over those three, but the way this Disneyesque take on the famous Hans Christian Andersen story throws itself at the audience is more desperate than affecting. That leaves the spoils to go to the splendid The Danish Poet, Torill Kove’s unpretentiously drawn short about a poet who can’t write, the famous novelist he wants to visit for inspiration, and the girl of his dreams who distracts him from his journey. Predicated on the notion that no one can get their Scandanavian countries straight (even the people from these places), this delightful production about chance encounters concerns identifiable human experience, with a wry, detailed sense of humor (Liv Ullmann narrates all the voices, male and female alike) that does not flirt with cynicism or gross sentiment.
Will Win: The Danish Poet
Should Win: The Danish Poet