Bear Story is the sweetest little tale of a sad bear who has created a hand-cranked diorama which tells the tale of a bear who was kidnapped away from his family to be enslaved by the circus. When he finally escapes and tries to return home, his wife and child are gone leaving only a ransacked apartment. I think Bear Story is one of the two animated shorts with the strongest chances of winning, but I still have research to do, so it's too early to call! See my post for my predictions the day of the Oscars.)
Prologue - Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
This strange short takes place 2400 years ago with two Spartan soldiers and two Athenian soldiers who are fighting to the death. As they battle, a little girl witnesses their fight and runs away in fear. The drawings in the animation are incredibly detailed and beautiful. It's just not a very interesting or compelling story. (I can't find a good trailer on YouTube for this film, so here is a link to the Academy's site in which they have a trailer available for viewing: http://oscar.go.com/nominees/short-film-animated/prologue)
Sanjay's Super Team - Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
Sanjay's Super Team is a beautiful depiction of a very modern dilemma, an older generation committed to religion and tradition, and a younger generation interested in modern conveniences and technology and having trouble connecting to the practices of the past. In this visually spectacular film, little Sanjay, forced to sit with his father and pray at the small shrine in his house, finds a way to connect with the tradition through his modern lens, and the results are absolutely delightful.
We Can't Live Without Cosmos - Konstantin Bronzit
This is the story of two best friends in the Russian space program hoping to make it onto the rocket launch. They have been friends their entire lives always dreaming of the stars. When they are both selected to be the astronaut and the first alternate, the launch proves to be a turning point in both of their lives from which neither can return.
World of Tomorrow - Don Hertzfeldt
This film is a hilarious and bizarre story of Emily and a visitor from the future who turns out to be her. The future is a place where people who can afford it upload their memories into a clone and continue to do so for generations. Emily of the future tells a fantastical story of her life and all of the crazy developments of the world and of space, including time travel. Original Emily (Emily prime) is just a little girl and finds all of this as nutty as the rest of us. The film is very funny and is available on Netflix. Well worth the time.