Short of the Week

Top 10 Short Films of 2010

Playlist / December 26, 2010

Another year gone by, and what a year it was for short film online. This is the fourth year we’ve done this top 10 list, and the selection process was more difficult than ever. We recommended over 150 excellent short films on this site in 2010 and while the exclusions were excruciating, with this list, we’ve produced our strongest lineup yet.


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Duration: 1hr 20min

Short of the Year: Winner!

Drama about Nature in Live-Action
Ramin Bahrani / 17 min / USA
Werner Herzog gives voice to a plastic bag's existential crisis. A very unique and powerful filmmaking statement by celebrated director Ramin Bahrani.


Action about Desperation in 3D Animation
A lone photographer plays witness to a murder and a chase ensues down a dark urban landscape in this stylized and fast-paced game of cat and mouse.
Experimental about Inspiration in 3D Animation
Eran Hilleli / 5 min / Israel
Animated minimalism is used to maximum effect in this gorgeous and bizarre short student work from Israel.
Dramedy about Friendship in Stop-Motion
Kirsten Lepore / 5 min / USA
Separated by the sea, a unique duo pass along details of their lives through a bottle. An elegiac animation of minimalist perfection.
Drama about Family in Animation
Beautiful soft-spoken film about a son's attempt to reconnect with his estranged father.
Drama about Love in Special FX
A passing moment between two strangers becomes unforgettable as this film shows us what love at first sight must truly feel like.
Sci-Fi about Redemption in Special FX
Axel Ricke / 29 min / Germany
In a bleak future, a lost soul seeks desperate measures to escape his luck. The punishment if caught? Years spent locked up in his own personal nightmare.
Drama about Love in 3D Animation
David O'Reilly / 10 min / Germany
Simple, fresh animation about the complex relationship between a cat and mouse.
Experimental about Inspiration in 3D Animation
Alex Roman / 12 min / Spain
Alex Roman invites us into a surreal world of architecture and light with his stunning mastery of CG.
Film Noir about Crime in Special FX
Andrew Jones / 8 min / USA
Reporter, Holly Malone, is out to bring down drug lord, Dancoolo, and break the story of her career. It's a fan film masterpiece with the perfect mix of wacky characters, memorable one-liners, and over-the-top effects.

The thing you’ll notice about the films this year is that they’re heavy. This is a lineup of emotional powerhouses. Heartbreaking, passionate, poignant; these are films not content to conform to the sometimes desultory expectations that come with being “short”—these are great films that manage to equal, if not exceed, the emotional weight of any feature.

Some rely heavily on splendid visuals like Pivot, which produces the finest action sequence in all of visual media this year, bringing back rudimentary polygonal styles to celebrate with joy that other dimension of animation—movement. Or Nuit Blanche, a film of enormous romantic lushness, that, amidst the rise of fashion films, might have been the year’s most fashionable.

Others explore the hidden world of the heart with a heartbreaking aplomb: the exquisite depiction of confronting one’s “Big Bad Wolf” in Old Fangs, or the headlong rush of a relationship’s lifetime in Please Say Something, both, like Bottle, telling all too human stories via non-human characters.

On the other hand, a few on this list explore abstraction and seek to connect us with what is universal. That’s what Between Bears accomplishes, the concept of the journey tied close to the epic and the mythic;  creating images of such power, one cannot help but connect it back to its country of origin. The Third and the Seventh‘s resolute appreciation of beauty likewise is food for the soul, its simple being a tribute to transcendence in Art.

Even the films that seem at first most conventional, with quaint things such as “actors”, prove to be anything but. D-I-M: Deus Ex Machina, aside from its amazing special fx, is a stirring call to arms for defiance in the face of oppression, and Frank Dancoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer…well let’s just say that “conventional” is not an apt term for this geekily indulgent masterpiece.

However there has to be a film that wears the crown, and this year, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that film proved to be Plastic Bag. This film encompasses all the qualities above and more. Its lovely cinematography was stirring, its exploration of an interior worlds going through existential crisis, bravely true. It connects us to sensations that are mythic and epic, yet in its environmentalist message seeks to embrace us all in a consciousness of our shared community and planet. All this in a flick about a plastic bag. It is the most amazing short film of 2010.

Thank you all. Enjoy this list and we hope to see you in 2011! As always your comments, reposts and tweets are appreciated. Check us out on Facebook and follow our newly launched Twitter account.

Finding and showcasing the best online short films since 2007.
  • Rhynee

    AHHH! I’m so happy Bottle made it! That’s my new favorite short!!!

  • Andrew S Allen

    A very strong year for online films indeed. We had a difficult time narrowing it down to just 10. Runners up this year include: Lifeline, Your Lucky Day, Copy Shop, and The Machine.

  • Tom Jones Ghost

    Thanks for putting this together, I’m about halfway through, but good stuff so far. Especially liked Pivot

  • El Vez

    It’s a great top ten, pretty sure it could have easily been a great top twenty! So many excellent films to choose from.

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  • Jason Sondhi

    No doubt El Vez, half of my top ten didn’t make it. I haven’t seen yours yet either, should we publish everybody’s individual list too?

  • Andrew S Allen

    Here is my personal list:

    1. Please Say Something
    2. Bottle
    3. Old Fangs
    4. Lifeline
    5. Plastic Bag
    6. Between Bears
    7. The Third and the Seventh
    8. Pivot
    9. Silence Beneath the Bark
    10. The Un-Gone

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  • Fessols&naps

    Good compilation,
    Thanks for your good work, shortoftheweek.


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  • Felonious Punk

    my top 9 of 2010

    the external world
    madagascar, carnet de voyage
    drunk history, vol. 5 (feat. Will Ferrell)
    morgan and destiny’s eleventeenth date: the zeppelin zoo
    the hunter and the swan discuss their meeting
    wish 143
    day & night

    (“bottle” will be on my 2011 list)

  • Jason Sondhi

    Can’t argue with many of those, we’ve written about almost everything on the list. I thought less of “Turning” and “Oops” however, and was expecting Drunken History Vol. 5 to be qualitatively better than the rest of the series—having won Sundance and all—but I found it weak even compared to other installments.

    Funny that the only one I haven’t seen from your list, “Morgan and Destiny’s…” is the one with the biggest names.

  • Felonious Punk

    That’s not a coincidence. Since I read your interview of Emily Carmichael, this has become my new favorite website. Not only have I been turned on to a couple good handfuls of shorts I otherwise wouldn’t know about, but I feel like I’m addicted now. Other than the little shameless self-promotion above (;-D), your website is aces and deserves to be known and used by every true movie-lover. Nice work, all of you! Brrravo! I’m looking forward to the delicious worms you mama and papa birds are probably even now scouting for to share with us.

    As for “Morgan and Destiny’s”, it’s good fun, especially for the Lewis Carroll-esque narration.

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  • hari

    nice broter