The shorts! Yes, the shorts!  Those three categories that will make or break your Oscar ballot pool and even when you think you know what the Academy will pick you’ll be surprised, time and time again.

This year’s collection of shorts offer strong statements about refugees, racism and immigration as well as a few films whose only intent is to entertain.  Each category also has at least two nominees who could win although the safest bets are in Animated Short and Documentary Short.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s nominees, the pros and cons of each (in regards to winning the Academy Award) and some predictions in each category.

ANIMATED SHORT

“Borrowed Time”
Pros: Western theme, impressive action, beautifully lit and, most importantly, great story.
Negative: Character animation slightly arch

“Pearl”
Pros: Sweet story about a daughter remembering her father and the car they shared so many memories in, pretty song, some impressive visual moments.
Neg: Animation style might be too simplistic.

“Blind Vaysha”
Pros: Impeccably stylized, unique story about a woman who has one eye that sees the past and one that lives in the future… but…
Negative:…unique story that gets slightly tedious. Emotionally cold, weak ending.

“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
Pros: Personal story. Design has some striking visual moments.
Negative: Longest of all the nominees (30 min). Design seems also slightly dated (think early 00’s). Story not as compelling as length might indicate.

“Piper”
Pros: Beautiful photoreal animation. Universal story.
Negative: The most “cutesy” of all the nominees.

Prediction: “Piper”
Upset:“Borrowed Time” or “Pearl”
Who Should Win: “Borrowed Time”