4. Dead Man’s Lake
The Pitch: Three friends hit a lake for some fun and unleash a deadly horror.
The Hook: Inventive toying to avoid the obvious, throwback fun and an ending that’ll make you put your jaw back in place to watch it twice.
The Pitch: An android is quality-tested and found to be defective for thinking.
The Hook: Deep layers, astounding CGI design from Quantic Dream and a frantically effecting climax.
2. The Boy Who Wanted to Be A Lion
The Pitch: A deaf boy becomes enamored with lions after a trip to the zoo and uses his imagination to escape an isolating world that he fears.
The Hook: Wondrous mixed animation, inspired sound design and camera work to aid a Sendakian celebration of childhood, and a gutsy follow-through that punches right to the chest. Seriously, it might just be the best commercial for Kleenex ever made.
1. The Eagleman Stag
The Pitch: A scientist deftly recalls his life and the discovery which defined it.
The Hook: Epic storytelling done with style, staggering labor that crafts a unique look, and an all-encompassing subtext about the important moments of our life.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Jane as The Punisher in Dirty Laundry, the wacky sushi action of Monster Roll, the Made By Hand documentary The Cigar Shop, the practical/CGI blend of Vessel (which is no longer online because it’s being developed as a feature) and the difficult-to-describe style of Empire.
*Since some shorts that are made in years past aren’t available online (without passwords) until later (while they’re surfing the festival circuit), only shorts that were uploaded in 2012 were eligible for consideration even if they debuted elsewhere prior to this year. It’s tricky, yes.