Animated short films are a distinct and compelling art genre. They can be amusing, heartwarming, thought-provoking, and even visually aesthetic. Over the years, some of the most recognized and best animated short films have won Academy Awards.
This article will examine some of the best Oscar-winning animated short films. These short films will undoubtedly entertain, move, and inspire you. So, whether you’re a longtime fan of animation or just searching for something new to watch, don’t miss out on these must-see films.
The History of Animated Short Films
Even though animated films have been a part of cinema since its inception, it wasn’t until the fifth Academy Awards ceremony, which covered films released in 1931-32, that the Academy introduced a new category specifically for animated cartoons. This marked the height of the Golden Age of Animation, during which every major film studio had its animation division or collaborated with independent production companies to create theatrical cartoons alongside their prominent films. These animated shorts held a strong presence at the Oscars for approximately three decades until the early 1960s, when the studios gradually closed down their animation departments.
Following this, independent and international filmmakers took the reins of the category, maintaining this trend through the 1970s and 1980s. As the 1990s began, animation experienced a resurgence in the English-speaking world thanks to studios like Pixar, Aardman, and Blue Sky. Their efforts injected new energy into the art form, eventually leading to the establishment of the Best Animated Feature category.
Today, animation stands as the Academy’s second-largest sector, and the Animated Short Film category has recognized works from over 20 countries, spanning a diverse range of animation styles, including 3D/2D animation, frame-by-frame animation, and many more.
A List of Oscar-Winning Animated Films That Are Sure to Entertain
Here is a list of the most memorable and captivating animated shorts to win the Academy Award.
#1 Logorama (2009)
Logorama is an Oscar-winning animation short film by H5, written and directed by Ludovic Houplain, Francois Alaux, and Hervé de Crécy. It is a crime noir epic set in a revised Los Angeles. This dream comprises mascots and logos and features an exciting cast of characters drawn from a wide range of well-known businesses.
The French directors have distinguished themselves with their distinct fusion of on-screen wit and gangster-like charm, adding depth to their animated heroes.
#2 Sundae in New York (1983)
Jimmy Picker’s clay animation short Sundae in New York was released in 1983. It is a love letter to New York City. A guy who draws inspiration from the ex-mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, is shown in the first scene dozing off on a park bench. After waking up, Koch begins singing the New York, New York theme aloud (“If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere”).
After that, he goes on a wandering tour of the city, stopping at famous sites and running into a ton of famous people associated with New York from the 1980s. It achieved one of the most incredible upsets in Oscar history by winning the prize for best animated short over various other famous ones.
#3 Knighty Knight Bugs (1958)
The only Buggs Bunny cartoon to win the Academy Award for the best-animated film, the Knighty Knight Bugs is a 1958 Warner Bros creation. Friz Freleng directed the animated short film, which features Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam.
In this animated short, Bugs and the Black Knight (Yosemite Sam) engage in a fight of wisecracks, lack-wits, and a fire-breathing dragon in search of the magical singing sword. It is a beautiful illustration of Bugs’ charisma in the face of lofty and steadfast opposition.
#4 The Little Orphan (1948)
The Little Orphan, a one-reel animated short film, won the Oscars in 1948. The Tom and Jerry short was produced by Fred Quimby, with Joseph Barbera and William Hanna directing it and Scott Bradley composing the soundtrack. Ray Patterson, Ed Barge, Kenneth Muse, and Irven Spence contributed to the cartoon’s animation.
The short film features Nibbles, a young orphan and hungry mouse Jerry adopts and treats to a Thanksgiving meal, whereas Jerry and Tom are tangled in their usual fights.
#5 Frank Film (1973)
Frank Film is on our list of the top 10 best-animated films to win an Academy Award in 1973. It is directed and written by husband-and-wife team Frank and Caroline Mouris. Frank Mouris tells the narrative of his average life in this short stop-motion. Mouris’ use of magazine cutouts for montage is the film’s most distinguishing characteristic. Mouris accumulated thousands of magazine photographs over the years. In the film, they all move across the screen as they represent Mouris’ autobiography.
Another distinguishing characteristic is Mouris’ usage of two unique narration tracks, one where he explains the story of his life straightforwardly and the other where he rattles off a non-stop list of words that correspond to whatever the images and the other voice are showing.
#6 A Greek Tragedy (1986)
Nicole Van Goethem’s 1985 Belgian animated short film Een Griekse Tragedie (A Greek Tragedy in English) is about three woman statues clinging to the ruins of an ancient building. At the 59th Academy Awards, the film received the Academy Award for the Best Animated Short Film category.
The animated short is delicately humorous and artistically pleasing in its representation of the decadent Athenian Acropolis in the dawn of a new day, and it covers the theme of women’s subordination and self-liberation briefly and efficiently.
#7 The Two Mouseketeers (1951)
The 65th Tom and Jerry short, The Two Mouseketeers, is a 1952 American one-reel animated film. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the directors, and Fred Quimby produced this Oscar-winning animated short film.
This Tom and Jerry animated film is set in France in the 18th century. Tom, a soldier stationed in a castle, is responsible for watching over the food on the dinner table. Tom’s life is made difficult by Jerry and his mouse friend Nibbles, two roving “Mouseketeers,” who steal (and occasionally eat) all the food they can.
#8 The Milky Way (1940)
The Milky Way is a one-reel animated short film. The animated short, produced and directed by Rudolf Ising and co-produced by Fred Quimby, follows the adventures of the “three little kittens who lost their mittens” as they travel through a dreamland where space is wholly made of dairy products (for instance, the Milky Way is made of milk and the Moon is made of green cheese).
The Milky Way, an MGM cartoon, was the first non-Disney creation to win the Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 1940.
#9 The Fly (1980)
The Fly (original title A légy) is a 1980 animated short film from Hungary. Ferenc Rofusz wrote the script and is the director. It is a wordless movie told from the viewpoint of a fly who wanders into a house on a fall day. It is one of the best Oscar-winning animated short films to exist.
A fly hovers in a forest. It eventually makes its way into a grand house in a wooded clearing. The fly flits about the mansion, investigating strange and unfamiliar surroundings, until it comes across a fatal danger.
#10 Three Orphan Kittens (1935)
A 1935 animation short film in the Silly Symphonies sequence, Three Orphan Kittens was directed by Dave Hand and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It is also on our list of the top 10 animated films to win an Oscar.
The cartoon tells the tale of three orphan kittens who seek solace in a warm home and get into mischief with the occupant through adventures with the furniture and a grand piano. Designer Ken Anderson created remarkable animation design and perspective for this animated short. The animated short was also followed by a sequel named: More Kittens.
#11 The Pink Phink (1964)
The Pink Phink is an animated short film from 1964 that De Patie Freleng Enterprises made under the direction of Friz Freleng. It was DePatie-Freleng’s first animation and the first in the storied Pink Panther animated series. Besides, it was the first short animated film to win an Oscar for its debut from a fledgling animation studio, a feat that hasn’t been repeated since.
The Little Man, a short man with a mustache, is painting the house blue when the Pink Panther wanders into the home where he works as a house painter. The Panther takes offense to this, worrying the Little Man at first before destroying his work by covering all of his blue with pink, breaking a paint war off.
Our list of the top award-winning animated films ends here. These animated shorts showcase the incredible talent of the animators who created them, offering a unique and powerful viewing experience. If you’re awed by animation, watch these animated short films for inspiration.
Moreover, if you need help creating a stellar animation video, connect with our 3D animation company right away. Let’s work together to bring your Oscar-worthy idea to life!