After witnessing S/W alums DANIELS run riot at last year’s awards, picking up awards for Directing, Screenplay, and Best Picture, this year’s Oscar ceremony has much to live up to. Although we won’t be as invested in some of the feature categories as we were in 2023, in the short film categories we have our fingers crossed for several filmmakers we’ve already championed on our platform over the years.

With 15 titles, five in each category, battling it out for the three awards in the short film categories, as has become custom here on S/W we’ve predicted winners in each section and also championed our own favorite. With just over a week (Sunday 10th March) until the awards are handed out, we don’t have long to wait until we find out if our predictions land – last year we managed two out of three, so let’s see if we can go one better and get the hat-trick in 2024.


Best Animated Short Film

War is Over Short film

Winner: War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko directed by Dave Mullins

While we hope that with the addition of new Oscar voters, the trend of opting for over-sentimentality in the Best Animated Short Film category has passed, our instincts are telling us that it will win out once again in 2024. For this reason, we opted for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse in our predictions last year, and were proved right. With war once again dominating our news feed, it makes sense that an anti-war story would scoop the 2024 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, although we think that Our Uniform can provide some competition.

Our Pick: Pachyderme directed by Stéphanie Clément

A favorite of the S/W team, Clément’s short mixes trauma with tranquility to create a film full of contrasts. Centered around a haunting narrative, where a woman looks back at a childhood spent with her grandparents, the complex emotions in the 11-minute film pair beautifully with the rich visuals of the piece. Described by S/W’s Rob Munday as “one of the best shorts” he watched in 2023, this is filmmaking of the highest quality and craft/storytelling we’d love to see recognised by the Oscar voters.


Best Documentary Short Film

Nai Nai and Wai Po Sean Wang

Winner: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó by Sean Wang

Last year, while our favorite (Haulout) didn’t win, we did predict that The Elephant Whisperers would walk away with the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Film. While the category is historically dominated by heavy and serious social issues films, we think there is a movement towards lighter fare.

Much like last year’s winner, our favorite to scoop the award this year, Sean Wang’s Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó, is a moving and upbeat story. Additionally, despite being the most “indie” of the nominees in the category, qualifying via festival wins at SXSW and AFI Fest, the short is getting the sort of industry support necessary for a successful campaign and is riding a PR high—it was picked up by Disney+, where it is currently streaming, and A-listers have joined to help campaign. The crossover momentum of Wang premiering his feature debut, Dìdi (弟弟), at Sundance in January, and a subsequent NyTimes profile helped too. Lastly, the moving reaction video featuring Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó to their nomination was a certifiable breakout moment, going viral and building affection for the project across all sorts of people who normally don’t pay close attention to the Short Documentary race. 

We know better than to underestimate 3-time alum and previous Oscar-winner Ben Proudfoot who is doing tremendous things with his moving short that he directed with Kris Bowers, The Last Repair Shop, but the unique buzz generated for Wang’s short makes it our prediction. 

Our Pick: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó BY Sean Wang

Shot by Sam Davis, cinematographer of a previous Oscar-winner Period. End of Sentence, Wang’s short won our hearts after its premiere at SXSW 2023 and we challenge anyone not to be touched by the story of his incredibly charismatic grandmas. How could the Oscar voters not be utterly charmed by the pair? They look ready for the red carpet, so give them that Oscar now!


Best Live-Action Short Film

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Wes Anderson

Winner: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Wes Anderson

Throughout the process, we’ve been steadfast in claiming that The Wonderful Story… should be considered the front-runner, due in no small part to Anderson’s fame and pedigree. That makes an obvious sort of sense, but it does ignore that celebrity filmmakers have had a tough go in recent years—neither Yorgos Lanthimos nor Pedro Almodóvar have had their shorts nominated, and last year the mega-wattage of Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar also came up empty.

Those snubs came pre-nomination though, when the individual branches control the process. Once we reach the big award itself, the entire academy votes, and name appeal might carry weight among a larger, more generalist body. Still, there is a distinct possibility that voters resent the invasion of a category usually reserved for up-and-comers, something articulated in the latest edition of THR’s notorious, “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot.”

So, despite the historic pull of Netflix in the short film categories, Anderson’s short-form gem is not a shoo-in, and for your Oscar Prediction pool you should consider Red, White and Blue as the type of politically blunt social issue film that has succeeded in the past. However, we’re sticking with our horse from the start of the season.

Our Pick: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Wes Anderson

We are on the record as not being fans of the celebrification of the short-form contests, so one might think that would bias us against Wes Anderson’s latest, as here we have a generational auteur adapting one of the 20th century’s most beloved authors for the richest company in Hollywood, and stuffing the cast with Oscar-nominated actors.

Yet, we are also steadfast in not appreciating an infantilization of the category. We reject the Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot argument that “this is such an important award for emerging talent, it is a waste to give it to an established filmmaker.” First of all, the award has a pretty poor track record at crowning important new filmmakers, but secondly, this is an award for a format, not a talent identification tool, and should be adjudicated on that basis. Through that lens, the formal skill and ingenuity of The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar feels like the natural choice.


View previous Oscar-nominated films, winners, and further coverage from the awards on our dedicated CHANNEL.