Maybe attention spans aren’t dying: Our brave new world of smartphones has done nothing to slay the two-hour movie. If anything, now they’re too short; we prefer endless TV shows we binge for untold hours at a spell. To make a long story short, the masses still haven’t embraced the short film. They still live underground, seen only by festivalgoers and, every February, by the handful who catch the 15 shorts nominated for three categories of Oscars when they’re dumped in movie theaters — a tradition that beckons adventurous patrons or simply those who want a leg-up on their Oscar pools.
So, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that half of them are good. The bad news is that half of them are bad. That’s how it always is. You can always rely on the Short Documentary batch to enrich and inspire, just as you can always rely on the Live Action shorts to be goopy puddles of sentimentality or noble duds that simplify the world’s very real problems. (There have been exceptions — perhaps you remember the unbearably intense “Just Before Losing Everything,” from 2014 — but they rarely win the trophy.) Meanwhile, the animated minis are an eternal mixed bag: glorified demo reels for those aspiring for Pixar or Dreamworks cutting it up with true works of vision, usually from Canada.