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January 1, 2020
oscar shortlist 2020

Short Films On The 2020 Oscars Shortlist You Can Watch Free Online Right Now



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Once again, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered us both surprises and sure bets in its shortlist selections. Four Netflix documentaries were represented, a Pixar film still made the cut and we got several of our predictions right! No matter what genre, style and running time you’re looking for in a short film, you’re surely to find one in this list of 2020 Oscar shortlisted films you can watch online right now.


WHO MADE IT: Yi Seung-Jun

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: When the passenger ferry MV Sewol sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014, over three hundred people lost their lives, most of them schoolchildren. Years later, the victims’ families and survivors are still demanding justice from national authorities.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This documentary first came to us curated from the Field of Vision production company, a distinguished creator of most of the cutting edge doc shorts of the last few years. It won the Grand Jury at AFI Doc along with an Audience Choice award at Indy Shorts.


WHO MADE IT: Alexander A. Mora

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It follows a small group of determined photojournalists on a mission to expose the true cost of the deadly war on drugs waged by Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This National Geographic produced short was given unprecedented access to a harrowing contemporary situation. It moved audiences at Hampton International, where it won honorable mention. It was also nominated for an IDA (International Documentary Association) award.


WHO MADE IT: Luther Clement, Shuhan Fan

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It blends home videos and animation in an expressionistic montage to tell the underdog story of Keeth Smart, an African American fencer from Brooklyn who overcomes a gauntlet of hardships on his road to the Olympics.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: A PBS distribution has already allowed a large audience to experience “Stay Close” for themselves, but before that it had stops at Sundance and the Cinema Eye Honors, where it was in contention for major awards.



WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Paul and Millie Cao lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they have become successful professionals in Southern California-and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This was a New York Times Op-Ed Doc exclusive, joining many past short films who have gone on to make it to the Oscar shortlist and beyond.


WHO MADE IT: Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., Bruce W. Smith

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It’s an animated short film about an African American father trying to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This animated short played in front of millions in theater this summer, making it one of the most popular and seen films on this list. Watch it now if you haven’t already!


WHO MADE IT: Leo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert & Oscar Malet

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: The two best rescue workers in the region take off for their umpteenth mission. Professionalism and efficiency all around, but things don’t really go as planned…

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: An end of the year Vimeo Staff Pick, “Hors Piste” is the rare student film to make it this far in the Oscar proceedings. The Annie Awards have already nominated it for Best Student Film.


WHO MADE IT: Siqi Song WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A man thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently? HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: A touching stop-motion short has 13 nominations and 9 wins, including Holly Shorts and Aspen. This film’s ability to pull at the heartstrings and deliver a beautiful final product could be enough to pull it into the favorite’s spot.


WHO MADE IT: Regina Pessoa

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It’s about the special relationship between Regina Pessoa and her uncle. The film is a testament to her love for this eccentric, who was an artistic inspiration and played a key role in her becoming a filmmaker. A moving tribute to a poet of the everyday.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This extremely personal project is also up for an Annie. It won Chicago and has been a favorite for many throughout the year.


WHO MADE IT: Meryam Joobeur

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Mohamed is deeply shaken and suspicious when his estranged eldest son Malek returns home from Syria to rural Tunisia with a mysterious young wife in tow. The emotional complexities of a family reunion and past wounds lead to tragic consequences.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: We’ve talked about this film more than just about any other this year, and for good reason. It currently has 20 festival wins and countless appearances. Everywhere it goes, “Brotherhood” strikes a chord — we don’t think the Academy voters will be an exception.


WHO MADE IT: Asher Jelinsky

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A transwoman mechanic lives between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night, until an unforeseen event threatens balance of her compartmentalized life.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: Here’s another student film that’s broke out in a big way. This short has gone from Cannes to Clermont-Ferrond to Ashland and beyond. This is a strong contender for the final five.


WHO MADE IT: Yves Piat

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: In the south of Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border of Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This is a festival favorite, including 18 Audience Awards at major international festivals. A road trip buddy film that resonates with audiences the world over. We like its momentum coming into the final stretch.


WHO MADE IT: Marshall Curry

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It tells the story of Alli (Maria Dizzia), a mother of young children who has grown frustrated with her daily routine and husband (Greg Keller). But her life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings move in across the street and she discovers that she can see into their apartment.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: Since its premiere at Tribeca, this debut narrative short for its director has gone to several festivals. It may be one of the slickest-looking films on the list, with a production value and sense of composition that’s hard to beat.


WHO MADE IT: Stefanie Abel Horowitz

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her.

HOW’S IT DOING AT FESTIVALS: This other Vimeo Staff Pick had its world premiere at Sundance this year. It’s had a chance to spend nearly the entire calendar year booking major festivals, and getting the notoriety that has brought it to this point today.

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