The 87th Annual Academy Awards air this Sunday, Feb. 22, and while you've probably heard of the big contenders for Best Picture like Birdman and Boyhood, there are tons of lesser-known films nominated that are worth just as much of your time.
Case in point: this year's Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short. Other than the animated shorts that play before Disney movies, one of which is an Oscar-nominated short this year, we rarely hear about or see these films. And that's a darn shame, because they show some of the most innovative storytelling and mesmerizing visuals of any movie, long or short, of the year.
If you were lucky enough to catch one of these shorts at a film festival this year, you're ahead of the game. But if not, there's a little thing that people do on the Internet called streaming video that will allow you to watch most of these delightful animated shorts from the comfort of your own desk. Here's where you can find this year's nominees online.
The Dam Keeper
The Dam Keeper is like one of those picture books you used to read as a kid come to life. It tells the story of a young pig who has the thankless job of protecting his small town. However, his world gets turned upside down when he meets a new classmate. You can buy The Dam Keeper now on iTunes for $2.99, and just one look at this adorable little dude will make you click "Buy."
The Bigger Picture
The Bigger Picture takes stop-motion animation to the next level. Using life-size paintings on the wall and 3-D objects, The Bigger Picture tells the story of brothers Richard and Nick as they take care of their elderly mother. Since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last May, The Bigger Picture has been working the film fest circuit all over the world. Unfortunately, if you didn't get a chance to see this short at one of these screenings, you're out of luck for now. The Bigger Picture isn't available to watch online in full just yet (you can watch the trailer and a "making of" video to whet your appetite), but if it wins big at the Oscars, I'm sure that'll change.
You may have already seen Feast if you checked out Walt Disney Animation Studios' Big Hero 6 in theaters last fall. This 2-D animated short follows the food-fueled relationship between a man and his dog, which gets interrupted when he starts dating a health-conscious lady. You can feed your need for Feast by downloading it from iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play or YouTube for $1.99-$2.99. Or, you can wait until Big Hero 6 is released for digital download, Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 24 if you'd rather just keep these two films as a package deal.
Me and My Moulton
The main protagonist of Me and My Moulton might be a seven-year-old girl, but this playful animated short is really all about her unconventional parents. All she wants is a bike, but she also knows that her mustache-wearing dad and her mom (who makes dresses out of curtain fabric) will probably screw it up. You can download this vivid and heartwarming short from iTunes for $2.99. After you watch this short, it will make you simultaneously remember all the times your parents embarrassed you and make you feel the urge to call them and remind them that you love them.
A Single Life
If you've ever felt depressed about being single, you need to watch A Single Life. When a woman named Pia puts on a single on her record player, it completely transforms her outlook on life. This funny and whimsical short is available to download from iTunes for $2.99. And spoiler alert: Watching this will probably make you crave pizza.