The 85th Academy Awards air next Sunday. Finally, you can put those Oscar snubs debates to rest while you enjoy the show — or verbally eviscerate host Seth MacFarlane who may or may not totally suck. All the major “best” categories dominate the golden spotlight, but there’s a lot of talent to be found in the “shorts” group. You can check out this year’s nominees for live-action short films over here. While we wait for February 24, travel back in time to look at ten of the category’s past Oscar-winning shorts. Enjoy these tasty, bite-sized moments from movie history that you can watch with us right now.
1995 Oscar Winner, Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life
Peter Capaldi’s dark, absurd take on a struggling Kafka (a sinister Richard E. Grant) tortured by writer’s block finds the scribe embittered by the continuous interruptions he’s faced with in his creepy apartment. The rejected Gregor Samsa transformation scenes are weird and hilarious.
1932 Oscar Winner, The Music Box
This Sisyphean short from famed Hollywood director and producer Hal Roach was the very first live-action short film Oscar winner. The gag is on Laurel and Hardy who attempt to push a piano that doesn’t want to stay put up a flight of stairs. Scenes of the perfectly timed comedic duo made them movie stars and The Music Box a cinema classic.
1997 Oscar Winner, Visas and Virtue
Chiune Sugihara, aka Sempo, was a Japanese Consul General who helped save the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II by issuing visas so refugees could escape to Japan. Chris Tashima portrays the real-life heroic diplomat in Chris Tashima’s short, which touches upon the Vice-Consul’s moral and professional struggle.
2007 Oscar Winner, Le Mozart des Pickpockets
Two inept crooks pickpocket for a gang of Romanian criminals, but when everyone except the buffoonish team ends up in jail, they are forced back to the drawing board. Luckily the orphaned boy they join forces with has more lawbreaking prowess and dry wit in his little finger than the whole group put together.
1945 Oscar Winner, Stairway to Light
Radio announcer John Nesbitt narrated a series of Oscar-winning shorts for MGM about unusual historical events. The Passing Parade series is a pseudo-documentary acted out, which covered everything from mail-order marriages to this look at French doctor Philippe Pinel — who fought for the humane treatment of psychiatric patients.
1983 Oscar Winner, Boys and Girls
Adapted from Alice Munro’s short story, Don McBrearty’s coming-of-age tale — featuring Anne of Green Gables star Megan Follows — is a poignant look one farm girl’s exasperation with traditional gender roles and her own family’s sexism. Follow the links for parts two and three.
1934 Oscar Winner, La Cucaracha
A historically important must-see for cinephiles who want a look at the early, gorgeous stylings of three-strip Technicolor. The technology cost filmmakers a whopping $65,000 to tell their story about Spanish dancers and singers in love. Musical numbers feature aplenty.
1962 Oscar Winner, Heureux anniversaire
A woman prepares an anniversary feast for her husband who delays their affectionate celebration with humorous asides. Director Pierre Étaix (who also stars in the short) is a former clown and known as the Buster Keaton of French cinema. Follow the YouTube link for part two.
2005 Oscar Winner, Six Shooter
Six Shooter is foul-mouthed, black comedy from Ireland shot on a real train. The film follows a grieving man who encounters an unhinged stranger during his journey. Fans of crime caper In Bruges will be pleased to see what director Martin McDonagh and star Brendan Gleeson were up to before the hit man favorite.
2004 Oscar Winner, Wasp
Like her acclaimed feature Fish Tank, English director Andrea Arnold’s Wasp focused on a woman whose ambivalence about motherhood finds her in some desperate situations. In an interview, the filmmaker explained more about the autobiographic references in the short:
“My mum had four kids when she was very young and was a single mum, so she is similar to the film’s main character in Wasp. Now that I am a mother myself, I can appreciate how tough that must have been but people think of council estates as gritty, horrible places. I wanted my film to show how colourful and vibrant life can be there.”