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A ballerina, Olya, dances in the Oscar-nominated animated short film "Boxballet." Photo courtesy of IMDb.

REVIEW: 2022 presents a weak slate of Oscar-nominated animated shorts


The nominees for the 2022 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film showcase a weaker set of nominees than years previous. None of the shorts pushed the boundaries of animation particularly far with most being light on any kind of emotional substance.

“Boxballet,” directed by Anton Dyakov

“Boxballet” is a brilliant little short out of Russia and easily my favorite of the nominees. We follow a boxer, Evgeny, and a ballerina, Olya, after their initial meeting as they get to know each other and try to decide whether anything romantic might happen between them. Through a familiar story, “Boxballet” utilizes no dialogue, with the entire story being told through the animation and its visuals, culminating in a truly riveting experience.

The amount of story that Dyakov and his team were able to fit in the short’s small 15-minute runtime is vast. The animation feels fresh and the editing is masterful. Of the five shorts nominated, this is the only one that feels like a complete story. I was surprised how much I actually cared about these two characters.

“Affairs of the Art,” directed by Joanna Quinn

“Affairs of the Art” is the fourth short by Quinn to feature protagonist Beryl, who is also voiced by Quinn. Beryl is now just north of middle age and is trying to reconnect to her childhood obsession with drawing. As she does this, she tells the audience about the obsessions of her other family members.

The short quickly becomes a polarizing warts-and-all exploration of how our passions shape our lives. The film also features a series of other polarizing elements: its animation style is intentionally primitive, the script feels like something out of the commentary section of the New Yorker and it has a few gross-out moments involving insects, vermin and human anatomy. It grew on me, though, and is my second favorite nominee, and it’s on YouTube now, so why not give it a try?

“The Windshield Wiper,” directed by Alberto Mielgo

“The Windshield Wiper” plays like a movie that Katie Mitchell’s most pretentious film professor would make her watch. The runtime is made up completely of vignettes ruminating on the question “what is love?” which isn’t exactly breaking new ground in the art world. 

Ultimately, most of the movie felt soulless, but the animation style was still such a marvel to behold that it didn’t matter that the emotions weren’t there. Mielgo’s work here is similar to his contributions as an art director on the Disney animated show “Tron: Uprising” and the Sony Oscar-winner “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” With a runtime of only 14 minutes, it’s slim enough to recommend just for the amination alone.

“Robin Robin,” directed by Dan Ojari, Michael Please

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Here’s the short for any parents looking for something to show their kids. “Robin Robin” comes from the same studio behind the celebrated “Wallace and Gromit” movies and even utilizes a similar animation style to the films. The story is simple and cute: a little robin gets adopted by mice but struggles to fit in. There’s some caper fun too, since the family of mice gets by on stolen crumbs from the nearby “who-man” houses.

Sitting at 32 minutes, this is the longest of the shorts, and it feels a little bloated. The songs feel unnecessary and forgettable, and the color palette is weirdly muted for a children’s short. The biggest highlights are the voice acting, especially Richard E Grant’s, and the character design, which I’m sure will sell lots of Robin plushies.

“Bestia,” directed by Hugo Covarrubias

“Bestia” has an interesting premise: exploring the mind of one of the most evil torturers in the Chilean military dictatorship by way of breathtaking porcelain doll stop-motion animation. “Bestia” aims to shock and promote further exploration into a dark part of Chile’s history.

Anyone who isn’t familiar with Íngrid Olderöck and her crimes against humanity will surely be shocked, but as someone who was already familiar with Olderöck and that moment in Chile’s history going in, I felt that the short’s story didn’t hold up well on its own.

So what will win on Sunday? Aardman has been nominated for four Oscars in the past and won once, so “Robin Robin” is probably the safest bet. Some part of me thinks that “The Windshield Wiper” could win, but that’s only if voters care more about animation than story.

Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy

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