Best Oscars Short Films of 2008: The Inspiring Nominees

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Written By Kelsey Waddell

Kelsey Waddell is a freelance writer living in Virginia. She's a fan of science fiction, Iron Chef, and anything with a musical number and a happy ending.

The 80th Academy Awards held in 2008 brought forth a remarkable lineup of Short Film nominees, shining a spotlight on the artistry and storytelling prowess within the concise format.

From captivating animations to thought-provoking documentaries and poignant live-action dramas, the 2008 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest emerging talents in the film industry.

Each film offered a unique perspective, showcasing creativity, technical excellence, and the ability to tell a compelling story in a condensed timeframe.

In this article, we will explore the Best Short Film nominees of the 80th Academy Awards, delving into what made each film stand out in its respective category.

These exceptional works prove that even in a brief duration, short films have the power to evoke emotions, challenge conventions, and leave a lasting impact on audiences. Prepare to be inspired by the ingenuity and artistic prowess of these aspiring filmmakers as we celebrate their contributions to the world of cinema.

Animated Short Films

Peter & the Wolf

Peter & the Wolf is a 2007 animated short film directed by Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman. The film is an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev’s classic children’s story and features a stunning blend of stop-motion animation and digital technology.

The story follows the young boy Peter, who lives with his grandfather in a forest. One day, Peter encounters a wolf who threatens the safety of his animal friends. With the help of a bird, a cat, and a duck, Peter devises a plan to capture the wolf and save his friends.

The animation style of Peter & the Wolf is nothing short of breathtaking. The stop-motion animation is incredibly detailed and realistic, and the digital technology allows for the creation of stunning visual effects. The result is a film that is both visually beautiful and emotionally engaging.

One of the standout scenes in the film is the sequence where Peter and his animal friends capture the wolf. The tension is palpable, and the animation perfectly captures the excitement and danger of the moment.

Another standout moment is the film’s climactic scene, where Peter and his friends celebrate their victory over the wolf. The animation here is joyous and playful; perfectly capturing the sense of triumph and relief that the characters are feeling.

Peter & the Wolf is a beautifully crafted film that will appeal to both children and adults. The animation style is truly stunning, and the story is engaging and emotionally resonant.

Even Pigeons Go to Heaven

Even Pigeons Go to Heaven is a 2007 French animated short film directed by Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse. 

The story revolves around an elderly man who is desperate to avoid death and goes to great lengths to find a way to extend his life.

The main character is an old man who is visited by a salesman who claims to have a machine that can transport the soul to heaven. The man is skeptical but agrees to try the machine. However, things don’t go as planned, and the man finds himself in a strange and unexpected situation.

The animation style in Even Pigeons Go to Heaven is unique and contributes to the storytelling in many ways. The film features a mix of 2D and 3D animation, which creates a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. The use of color is also notable, with muted tones that add to the film’s melancholic mood.

One of the standout scenes in the film is when the old man tries the machine for the first time. The animation is incredibly detailed and captures the man’s emotions as he experiences something completely new and unexpected. The scene is both beautiful and haunting, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer.

Even Pigeons Go to Heaven is a thought-provoking and visually stunning film that is sure to captivate audiences. The film is recommended for those who enjoy experimental animation and stories that explore the themes of mortality and the afterlife.

I Met the Walrus

I Met the Walrus is a charming and whimsical animated short film directed by Josh Raskin.

This film is based on a real-life encounter between a young Beatles fan named Jerry Levitan and John Lennon in 1969. The film uses Lennon’s own words from the interview Levitan conducted with him to tell the story.

The main character of the film is Jerry Levitan, a teenager who sneaks into John Lennon’s hotel room during his stay in Toronto. The film captures the essence of Levitan’s excitement and awe as he meets his idol, and Lennon’s playful and philosophical responses to the young fan’s questions.

The animation style of I Met the Walrus is a unique blend of rotoscoping, hand-drawn animation, and collage. The film uses a combination of black and white and color imagery, which creates a dreamlike atmosphere that perfectly captures the spirit of the 1960s.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Lennon tells Levitan, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” This moment perfectly captures the spirit of the film and the Beatles’ philosophy of creativity and imagination.

I Met the Walrus is a delightful and imaginative film that captures the essence of the 1960s and the Beatles’ philosophy of creativity and imagination. 

Madame Tutli-Putli

Madame Tutli-Putli is a haunting and surreal animated short film directed by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. 

The film follows the titular character, Madame Tutli-Putli, as she boards a train with her entire life packed into a suitcase. Along the way, she encounters a cast of strange and unsettling characters, all while being haunted by eerie visions and nightmares.

The animation style of Madame Tutli-Putli is absolutely stunning and contributes greatly to the storytelling. The filmmakers used a unique technique called “replacement animation,” in which they filmed real-life models and then replaced their features with animated ones. This gives the film a surreal and dreamlike quality that perfectly matches the tone of the story.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Madame Tutli-Putli is confronted by a group of unsettling, puppet-like creatures on the train. The creatures move in a jerky and unnatural way, and their faces are twisted into grotesque expressions. It’s a truly disturbing moment that perfectly captures the film’s eerie atmosphere.

Madame Tutli-Putli is a haunting and beautiful film that will stick with you long after you’ve watched it. It’s not for everyone, as it can be quite unsettling at times, but fans of surreal and experimental animation will definitely appreciate it.

My Love

My Love is a breathtakingly beautiful animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov. The film is based on the short story “A Love Story” by Ivan Bunin, and tells the story of a young man and woman who fall deeply in love in the Russian countryside.

The animation style of My Love is truly unique and adds incredible depth to the storytelling. Petrov used a technique called paint-on-glass animation, where he painted each frame of the film on a glass surface using oil paints. This technique gives the film a dreamy, ethereal quality that perfectly matches the romantic tone of the story.

The film’s main characters, Ivan and Marichka, are beautifully rendered in the stunning animation style. Ivan is a young artist who falls in love with Marichka, a beautiful young woman who lives in the countryside. The two have an instant connection, and their love for each other is palpable on screen.

One of the standout scenes in the film is when Ivan and Marichka go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow-covered countryside. The animation during this scene is absolutely breathtaking, with the snowflakes and trees rendered in incredible detail. The scene perfectly captures the magic of falling in love and the beauty of nature.

My Love is a stunning piece of animation that is sure to captivate anyone who watches it. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves animation, romance, or just appreciates beautiful storytelling. 

Live Action Short Films

Le Mozart des pickpockets

Le Mozart des pickpockets, directed by Philippe Pollet-Villard, is a French film that follows two pickpockets, Émile and Victor, who find themselves in a sticky situation when they unknowingly steal the wallet of a man who turns out to be a deaf-mute.

As they try to return the wallet to its rightful owner, they discover a deeper connection with the man and each other.

The film’s visual style is striking, with a muted color palette and a focus on close-up shots of the characters’ faces. This contributes to the intimate feel of the film and allows the audience to connect with the characters on a deeper level.

The cinematography is also notable, with creative camera angles and movements that add to the tension and humor of the film.

One scene that stands out is when Émile and Victor are trying to communicate with the deaf-mute man using gestures and drawings. The scene is both humorous and touching, as the two pickpockets struggle to understand the man’s needs and emotions.

Another memorable moment is when the trio breaks into a dance, celebrating their newfound connection despite their differences.

Overall, Le Mozart des pickpockets is a charming and heartwarming film that explores themes of empathy, friendship, and communication. It is a film that will appeal to a wide audience, especially those who enjoy character-driven stories and unique visual styles.

I highly recommend this film and believe it deserves its nomination for Best Live Action Short Film.

At Night

At Night is a hauntingly beautiful Danish film directed by Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth.

The story follows three women – a doctor, a young mother, and a teenage girl – who are all patients in a hospital’s cancer ward. The film takes place over the course of one night as the women form a bond and share their fears, hopes, and dreams.

The cinematography in At Night is stunning. The film is shot entirely in black and white, which adds to the overall feeling of melancholy and isolation. The camera work is intimate, with close-up shots of the women’s faces as they share their stories and emotions. The use of shadows and light is also masterful, creating a sense of depth and atmosphere that draws the viewer in.

One scene that stood out to me was when the three women sneak out of the hospital and take a joyride in a stolen car. The freedom and joy they experience in that moment is a stark contrast to the weight of their illness and the restrictions placed on them by their treatment. It’s a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of seizing moments of happiness.

While it may not be suitable for all audiences due to its heavy subject matter, I highly recommend At Night to anyone who appreciates thought-provoking cinema. It is a beautifully crafted film that explores the complexities of life, death, and human connection.

Il Supplente (The Substitute)

Il Supplente (The Substitute) is a 2007 live-action film directed by Andrea Jublin. The movie is a satirical take on the Italian education system and its shortcomings.

The film is set in a middle school where a new substitute teacher is assigned to a class of unruly students. The main character is played by Sergio Castellitto, who delivers a brilliant performance as the substitute teacher, Marco, who is determined to change the behavior of his students.

The film’s style and cinematography contribute significantly to the storytelling. The camera work is steady, and the use of close-up shots adds to the intensity of the scenes.

The film’s color palette is muted, which reflects the dullness of the school environment. The soundtrack is minimal, which adds to the realism of the film.

There are several scenes that stood out to me. One of them is when Marco is trying to teach the students about the significance of the word ‘respect.’ The scene is emotionally charged, and the students’ reactions are genuine.

Another is a moment when Marco confronts a student who is bullying another student. The scene is powerful, and the dialogue is impactful.

This film’s humor and satire are well-balanced, and the acting is superb. I would recommend Il Supplente (The Substitute) to anyone who is interested in Italian cinema or satirical comedies. The film is suitable for mature audiences, as it deals with some mature themes.

Tanghi Argentini

Tanghi Argentini is a charming and heartwarming Belgian short film directed by Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans.

The film tells the story of a lonely office worker named Jean who attends a tango lesson in hopes of finding love. The film’s title refers to the popular Argentine tango, which Jean is determined to master.

Jean, played by Dirk Van Dijck, delivers a fantastic performance as the shy and awkward office worker. The film’s other main character is Françoise, played by Koen Van Impe, who is Jean’s tango instructor and the object of his affection.

The film’s visual style is simple yet effective, with a focus on close-ups and medium shots to capture the emotions of the characters. The film’s use of color is also noteworthy, with a predominance of blue and green tones that create a melancholic and dreamlike atmosphere.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Jean finally masters the tango and performs it with Françoise. The scene is beautifully shot, with the camera circling around the dancers and capturing the intensity of their connection.

Tanghi Argentini is a delightful and touching film that is sure to leave viewers with a smile on their faces. It is a film that would appeal to anyone who enjoys romance, dance, and a good dose of humor.

I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a heartwarming and entertaining cinematic experience.

The Tonto Woman

The Tonto Woman is a 2007 live-action short film that tells the story of a woman who has been ostracized from her community due to her experience of being kidnapped by Native Americans and living with them for years.

Directed by Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown, this film is a haunting exploration of identity, belonging, and the complexity of human relationships.

The film’s main character is the titular Tonto Woman, played by actress Francesca Fowler. She is a woman who has been marked by her past experiences and the way society has treated her as a result. Her journey is one of self-discovery and learning to navigate a world that has rejected her.

The visual style of the film is stunning, with richly textured landscapes and a muted color palette that perfectly captures the harsh beauty of the American West. The cinematography is also exceptional, with a focus on natural light and shadow that enhances the film’s sense of atmosphere and mood.

One of the standout scenes in the film takes place when the Tonto Woman is forced to confront her past and the man who has come to claim her. This scene is shot in a way that emphasizes the tension and unease between the characters, with close-ups of their faces and a sense of claustrophobia that adds to the emotional intensity of the moment.

The Tonto Woman is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores important themes in a visually stunning and emotionally resonant way.

I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys thoughtful, character-driven dramas with a strong sense of place and atmosphere. While it may not be for everyone, I believe that audiences who appreciate artful storytelling and nuanced performances will find much to enjoy in this film.

Documentary Short Films


Freeheld, directed by Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth, is a powerful and emotional documentary that chronicles the fight of Laurel Hester, a police lieutenant, to secure her pension benefits for her same-sex partner, Stacie Andree, after she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The film’s style and cinematography perfectly complement the storytelling, with simple yet effective camera work that captures the raw emotions of the characters and their struggles. The filmmakers use a mix of interviews, news footage, and home videos to create a powerful and engaging narrative that is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The main characters of the film are Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree, who are portrayed as two strong and determined women fighting for what they believe in. Their love for each other is evident throughout the film, and their bond is truly inspiring. The film also features interviews with their friends, family, and supporters, as well as politicians and activists who joined their fight.

One of the most poignant scenes in the film is when Laurel Hester gives her emotional speech to the Freeholders, pleading with them to grant her the pension benefits that she deserves. Her courage and strength in the face of adversity is truly awe-inspiring, and the scene is a testament to the power of love and determination.

Freeheld is a must-watch documentary for anyone interested in social justice, equality, and the fight for LGBTQ rights. The film’s powerful storytelling and emotional impact make it a standout documentary, and it is sure to leave a lasting impression on its viewers.

La Corona (The Crown)

La Corona (The Crown) is a captivating and thought-provoking documentary that was released in 2007.

Directed by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega, the film takes an intimate look into the lives of female inmates in a Colombian prison as they compete in a beauty pageant called “Miss Prison.”

The film’s subjects are the contestants of the pageant, all of whom are serving time for various crimes ranging from drug trafficking to murder. As the women prepare for the pageant, we get a glimpse into their daily lives in prison, their struggles, and their hopes for the future.

The film’s style and cinematography contribute significantly to the storytelling. The directors use a mix of handheld and static shots to capture the raw emotions and intimate moments of the inmates.

The camera often lingers on the women’s faces, allowing the audience to see the pain and trauma they have endured. The use of close-ups also highlights the stark contrast between the beauty pageant and the harsh reality of prison life.

One of the standout scenes in the film is when the contestants rehearse their dance routine in the prison courtyard. The juxtaposition of the brightly colored costumes against the bleak concrete walls of the prison is striking. The scene is both beautiful and haunting, highlighting the duality of the inmates’ lives.

La Corona is a powerful and moving documentary that sheds light on the lives of women in prison and the impact of beauty pageants in their lives. It is a must-see for anyone interested in social justice issues and human rights.

While the film may not be suitable for all audiences due to its subject matter, those who appreciate thoughtful and impactful documentaries will find it to be a compelling watch.

Salim Baba

Salim Baba is a 2007 documentary directed by Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello. The film follows the life of Salim Muhammad, a cinephile and film projectionist in Calcutta, India.

Salim’s love for cinema began at a young age when he would sneak into movie theaters to watch films. He eventually became a projectionist and started his own traveling cinema, showing films in rural villages and remote areas.

The film’s style and cinematography are integral to its storytelling. The filmmakers use a mix of interviews, footage of Salim’s daily life, and clips from classic Bollywood films to paint a vivid picture of Salim’s world. The film also incorporates Salim’s own footage of his travels and projections, which gives the audience a unique perspective on his work.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Salim is projecting a film in a rural village. The villagers are gathered around the makeshift screen, completely captivated by the film. Salim’s passion for cinema is evident in the way he talks about the films he shows and the care he takes in setting up his equipment.

Salim Baba is a testament to cinema’s power and ability to unite people. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in cinema, Indian culture, or documentaries in general. The universal themes and engaging storytelling make it accessible to a wide audience.

Sari’s Mother

Sari’s Mother is a heart-wrenching documentary directed by James Longley. 

The film follows the story of Sari, a young Iraqi boy suffering from AIDS, and his mother, Maryam. The film takes place in a small Iraqi village where Sari’s family is ostracized due to his illness.

The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by capturing the raw emotions of the characters. The camera work is intimate and close-up, making the viewer feel as though they are part of the story. The use of natural lighting and colors also adds to the documentary’s authenticity.

One specific scene that stood out was when Sari’s mother Maryam takes him to the hospital for treatment. The camera follows them as they walk through the hospital and captures the fear and uncertainty on their faces.

Another impactful moment is when Maryam confronts her neighbors, who have been shunning her family due to Sari’s illness. The raw emotion in her voice as she defends her son is heart-wrenching.

Sari’s Mother is a must-watch for anyone interested in the human experience. The film is a powerful reminder of the devastating effects of disease and the resilience of the human spirit. While it may be difficult to watch at times, it is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

2008 Oscar Short Film Winners

Live Action – Le Mozart des pickpockets

Animated – Peter & the Wolf

Documentary – Freeheld