Monstrosity, kooky Christmas, longings and love: The animated shorts of Oscars 2022

Stills from each of the 2022 Oscar-nominated animated short films.
The 2022 Oscar-nominated animated short films are, from left, “Robin Robin,” “Affairs of the Art,” “Bestia,” “Boxballet” and “The Windshield Wiper.”
Share via

The 2022 Oscar-nominated animated short films plumb the heart — and the heart of darkness. They’re from the U.S., England, Spain, Chile and Russia and decidedly not for kids (except for, effectively, a kooky Christmas special by the folks at Aardman). They present nightmares, grotesques ... and a visually stunning meditation on the nature of romantic love.

The animated Beryl character looks surprised in a scene from Joanna Quinn's "Affairs of the Art."
Joanna Quinn’s “Affairs of the Art,” continuing the adventures of 59-year-old factory worker Beryl, an aspiring artist, is one of this year’s Oscar-nominated animated short films.

“Affairs of the Art”: This joint UK-Canada production is a continuation of a series of roughly sketched films about Beryl, a 59-year-old factory worker longing to become an artist. It’s comedic, finding the ugliness and awkwardness within its subjects and presenting it for laughs (which it also does with a few instances of cruelty to animals).


Producer-screenwriter Les Mills explains Beryl’s popularity: “The audience likes her. What she represents isn’t often represented in movies: A slightly overweight, middle-aged, working-class woman.” As he says it, director Joanna Quinn emphatically points to herself on a video call.

Inside the worlds of Deaf teens, the homeless epidemic, Afghan refugees, a groundbreaking champion and a painful memory of childhood cruelty.

March 15, 2022

Quinn draws a comparison between her own career arc and Beryl’s drive to express herself creatively. “We were doing adverts for 13 years and though you can be creative in commercials, it’s not really your idea,” she says, noting that she and Mills crafted the Charmin campaign with the cartoon bears. “Apart from our partnership with the National Film Board, all the money came from toilet paper.”

A closeup of a sleeping character from Hugo Covarrubias' animated short "Bestia."
Hugo Covarrubias’ “Bestia” turns into a monstrous nightmare — appropriate considering the subject matter with a character inspired by a notorious figure from the days of Chile’s military dictatorship.

“Bestia”: A meticulously textured and animated work, with masterful cinematic flair. It’s also a monstrous nightmare. It’s a voyage where most of us might fear to tread: Inside the mind of a brutal secret police agent during Chile’s military dictatorship. The Envelope offers strong warnings about the unflinching content and depictions of her depravity.

“The film travels into the mind of a sinister woman. It’s like a nightmare,” says director Hugo Covarrubias. “We can see through her mind the frustrations and traumatic thoughts.”

While the character was inspired by a real person, Íngrid Olderöck, who was accused of committing very specific atrocities, the filmmakers stress that the movie is not a documentary.


The 2022 Oscar-nominated live-action short films may be well acted and well made, but they’re not exactly happy fun time.

March 15, 2022

Producer Tevo Díaz said, “This person was a narrative device to talk about the evil of [the dictatorship]. We use the character as a bridge to connect to concepts that are important to us — how this machine works that killed so many people during the dictatorship.”

Covarrubias said, “The fracture, the open wound that exists in the country, it’s important to know those scars and understand them. Instead of covering them up, we need to understand these kinds of cracks.”

A big boxer stands with a slight ballerina in a scene from Anton Dyakov's animated "Boxballet."
Anton Dyakov’s simply evocative “Boxballet” concerns the relationship of a weathered boxer and a delicate ballerina.

“Boxballet”: The short from Russia manages to generate the tension and emotion of a feature-length film in 15 evocatively drawn minutes. In it, a battered boxer falls for a willowy ballerina. The film’s rough-handed tenderness will likely stay with viewers.

Director Anton Dyakov says of the boxer Evgeny, “I wanted to show, behind the brutality and coarseness, the anxious soul of a child. The character of [the ballerina] Olya was much more of a mystery for me. For Evgeny, I drew heavily on my own feelings, but feminine energy is a different kind of energy. I spent a long time drawing, searching for Olya’s face, a combination of subtle beauty and elegance, but not overloaded with detail. While Evgeny’s face is a complex landscape, a patchwork of creases and scars, Olya’s is like a classical amphora, simple and elegant.

“There’s one [real] girl I was thinking of ... an adolescent with hopes and dreams, who fantasized about the world, and one day that adolescent’s dreams collided with reality.”

Four mice and a bird in a scene from Dan Ojari and Mikey Please's "Robin Robin."
Dan Ojari and Mikey Please’s “Robin Robin” (an Aardman production) has the feel of a classic stop-motion Christmas special.

“Robin Robin” An Aardman-Netflix presentation directed by Dan Ojari and Mikey Please that feels like a Christmas special or the blueprint for a holiday movie. In the joint UK-U.S. production, a robin raised by mice clumsily tries to sneak her way to success as one of her stealthy clan.

Ojari says, “We were thinking of that tradition of the Christmas special; the image of a robin in the U.K. is almost as Christmasy as Father Christmas.

“We’d tell it to friends and family around Christmas; it was quite a good way of refining the story.”

Richard E. Grant (as a materialistic magpie) and Gillian Anderson (as a menacing cat) turn in outstanding vocal work.

Please says, “We’d had Richard E. Grant as the center of our pin board, in his Withnail scarf and trench coat, putting a magpie’s head on it. When we imagined Richard in the story, it fell into place.”

A couple kisses in a scene from Alberto Mielgo's animated "The Windshield Wiper."
Alberto Mielgo’s “The Windshield Wiper” is a visually stunning meditation on the meaning of romantic love told in moments and vignettes.

“The Windshield Wiper”: Scene after breathtaking scene in the U.S.-Spanish production bears the look of precisely rendered paintings (not rotoscoped) assembled with bravura cinematic technique into a seamless, flitting meditation on romantic love.

Producer Leo Sanchez says, “Every shot has been tweaked by hand in every frame. We’ve been stopping and starting — taking other gigs along the way — for seven years.”

The film fleetingly visits moments imbued with the ineffable thing it wants to express, moments that prove potent and memorable.

Three-time Emmy-winning director Alberto Mielgo says of that central question, “What is love?”: “All of my relationships have been so different, I couldn’t really call them the same thing. ‘The Windshield Wiper’ is a metaphor that resembles the differences [among] relationships. Let’s say that each drop that falls on the window creates a pattern. Then when the windshield wipes, there is another pattern that is a completely different relationship.”

'Oscar Shorts 2022 - Animation'

Rated: Unrated (adult content including nudity/sexuality, violence and torture)
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: For local showtimes and tickets, visit


Our BuzzMeter experts tell us what films and performances will win on Oscar night. Think you can do better?

March 24, 2022