Every year when I watch the Academy Awards, I pray that someone will have the bright idea to get rid of all the ceremony's treacly song-and-dance numbers so that the screen time might be better used to air all the animated shorts (which, unless you're an Academy member, you can generally see ... well, nowhere).
Now there's an even better option: you can watch them all online in advance of the ceremony. Vimeo and Amazon both have the Oscar-nominated shorts online for on-demand viewing. (You can rent the shorts for a three-day streaming period on Vimeo for $3.95.)
The selection includes some wondrous pieces of animated filmmaking. This includes Joris Oprins' hilariously dark "A Single Life," about a record player time machine, and Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi's dreamy and largely wordless "The Dam Keeper," about an ostracized young pig that takes care of a town's dam.
Really worthwhile for its artful techniques (not to mention its moving storyline) is Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees' "The Bigger Picture." It employs painted stop-motion animation and three-dimensional objects to tell a story about a dying mother and her two sons, who display varying levels of devotion to her terminal condition.
Lastly, "Me and My Moulton," by Torill Kove, will be of particular interest to the design-heads: it's about three girls who are the long-suffering children of a pair of control-freak Modernist architects. Best piece of narration: "When my friends come over to play, they say, 'You live here?'"
All of this means you can now use the cheesy song and dance numbers during the Oscars telecast for valuable things like getting more food and going to the bathroom.
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.