2023 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: The Best of the Brief

Before the Academy votes, we pick our faves from the nominees

Three categories – animated, documentary, live action – with five nominees in each, highlighting the wild and wild diversity of filmmaking under 40 minutes (the official Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's definition of a short film). With the Oscars scheduled for March 12, now is your chance to catch all 15 of the nominated short films as they play in Austin cinemas. Here're our picks for the most moving, innovative, and entertaining in each category.

"My Year of Dicks"

Animated – "My Year of Dicks"

Now, no giggling when the title of the South by Southwest 2022 Special Jury Prize-winning "My Year of Dicks" is announced as a nominee. Adapted from former Austinite and Ralph Breaks the Internet scriptwriter Pamela Ribon's 2017 memoir, Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, its confessional tone finessed in her online diary, Squishy, "My Year in Dicks" isn't shy about its intent. Fifteen-year-old Pam is hellbent on not being a virgin at 16, and her stumbles and awkward fumbling through five prospective deflowerings are caught in five chapters, each given a distinctive style, from Linklater-esque verité to early Nineties MTV looseness through hyper-kawaii and even some Junji Ito for that hormonal nightmare, all told with comedic confessional vim. – Richard Whittaker

(Read our full review here.)

"The Elephant Whisperers"

Documentary – "The Elephant Whisperers"

In the Theppakadu Elephant Camp in Southern India, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga's "The Elephant Whisperers" follows a couple, Belli and Bomman, who work to raise orphaned baby elephants, an endeavor that has an almost nonexistent success rate. Except for Belli and Bomman, who have raised two of them, Raghu and Ammu. Prepare to fall hard for these li'l pachyderms, with lessons in healing, family, and spirituality. This is the heart-warmer of the set. – Josh Kupecki

(Read our full review here.)

"Le Pupille"

Live Action – "Le Pupille"

This year there are no dreamy stars like Riz Ahmed and Oscar Isaac to gravitate toward, but "Le Pupille" is glossy enough, directed by Happy as Lazzaro's Alice Rohrwacher and starring her older sister Alba Rohrwacher (The Lost Daughter, I Am Love). At 38 minutes it just barely qualifies to be a short film (40 minutes is the max), but it's by far the easiest of the five to digest, with its cheeky childhood antics and even cheekier nuns. It's a slice-of-life Christmas farce, as sweet as the cake Serafina (Melissa Falasconi) dares to eat and unassuming enough for Disney+ to get behind it. – Jenny Nulf

(Read our full review here.)

For full reviews of each selection, visit austinchronicle.com/screens.

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Oscars 2023, Live-Action Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, The Elephant Whisperers, My Year of Dicks, Le Pupille, Pamela Ribon

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