2023 Academy Awards Predictions — Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Documentary Short Film

These are our 2023 Oscar predictions for Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary Short Subject, and Best Live Action Short Film, part of a series on this year’s awards. Check out full predictions in all Oscar categories.

Best Live Action Short Film

  • An Irish Goodbye
  • Ivalu
  • Night Ride
  • The Pupils
  • The Red Suitcase

Will Win: The Pupils

Could Win: The Red Suitcase

Dark Horse: An Irish Goodbye

This is a tough category for me to discuss, because the one film I haven’t been able to watch is the current front-runner. Le Pupille has been the favorite on odd-aggregating sites like Gold Derby for many weeks now. It being co-produced by Alfonso Cuaron and being accessible on Disney+ likely factors in here.

I have to think, though, that there is a potential for an upset in this category. What often happens is at least one (if not two) of the short film categories end up going to a film that had not been considered the favorite. In this case, the competition is not particularly strong. Neither Ivalu nor Night Ride come off as particularly impressive. An Irish Goodbye recently won the BAFTA, but that was not much of a surprise (also, it was placed in a category none of the other Oscar nominees qualified for).

The Red Suitcase is the likely candidate for a film that could beat out The Pupils. It is well made; it is short, sweet, and to the point; and it has an underlying social commentary that the Academy might appreciate. Will it actually pull off an upset? I’m not entirely confident that it will. But I also wouldn’t consider The Pupils a sure thing.

Best Animated Short Film

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

Will Win: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse

Could Win: My Year of Dicks

Dark Horse: An Ostrich Told Me…

If it were up to me, My Year of Dicks would win this. It appears I am not the only one with this opinion, so maybe the film has enough buzz to get the Academy’s attention. But The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse remains the odds favorite. Beyond these two, there is not significant buzz for any other nominee. Although, I will say that An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe It is an intriguing film that, if enough Academy members actually watch it, could upset. Maybe its odd title will peak their interests. Of course, it is second in the running for oddest title behind My Year of Dicks. Just ask Riz Ahmed.

The Flying Sailor seems the least likely to win this. It does not have the same substance that the other films do. Ice Merchants, too, is quite spare in its narrative (but it is wonderfully animated). Call this a three-horse race, then, with The Boy being the safe pick.

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • The Elephant Whisperers
  • Haulout
  • How Do You Measure a Year?
  • The Martha Mitchell Effect
  • Stranger at the Gate

Will Win: The Elephant Whisperers

Could Win: Stranger at the Gate

Dark Horse: Haulout

As much as I would love to see Haulout, the doc featuring thousands of walruses on a small island, win, just given its unique subject matter and wonderful cinematography, I think Elephant Whispers has the front-runner status here. It is a fantastic short in its own right, and its animal-centric narrative is more uplifting than Haulout. The character studies in The Martha Mitchell Effect and Stranger at the Gate both have sociopolitical implications which the Academy may gravitate toward. Stranger, in particular, is a character study with pathos (a format the Academy often honors in this category).

The one film in this category I have yet to see is How Do You Measure a Year? It is worth mentioning that Jay Rosenblatt, that film’s creator, was nominated last year for When We Were Bullies. Both of these films were divisively received, but Rosenblatt becoming an Academy mainstay is a narrative worth paying attention to.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)


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