If you aren’t plugged in to what’s going on with short films, you’re missing out on an insane amount of outstanding entertainment. People talk about how difficult it was to whittle down Best Of lists for features this year (Her or Gravity or 12 Years a Slave?!) but after watching almost 3,000 shorts in 12 months, it feels like the depth of talent is growing in a big way on the small side.
As a testament to the medium’s freedoms, more and more feature filmmakers are returning to it. No longer simply a calling card or an early stepping stone, shorts have an undeniable power coupled with an infinite platform that some are just now discovering.
They’re also strange to categorize. For some, the internet is a red carpet while for others, it’s a final stop after touring festivals for years. As such, some of the best short films of 2013 were made a couple years ago. The focus is certainly on new projects, but some don’t find an audience quickly even as their magic deserves mention. Plus, there are 2013 movies like Noah that would have made this list, but are now unavailable (in most cases — including Noah‘s — because studios are keeping the work offline in order to have well-earned contractual conversations).
But instead of getting bogged down in specifics, please let your mind wander for a short while.
13. Truth in Journalism
Definitely one of the most popular shorts of the year, Joe Lynch‘s blend of Man Bites Dog with a drooling comic villain proved that Sony has a lot to live up to. Ryan Kwanten owns the manic role and offers a Venom we can believe in.
12. One Last Dive
Clocking in at a minute, Jason Eisener’s hellish dive into the shallows provides an excellent opportunity to see how long you can hold your breath without peeing your pants.
11. The First Autumn
A captivating fairytale with depth (and skeleton dogs), Carlos De Carvalho and Aude Danset have made a magical bit of animation that weaves 3D modeling with poetry to outstanding effect.
10. Next Floor
Denis Villeneuve’s grotesque comedy about gluttons impacting their bowels without regard for the structural integrity of their dining room has been thrilling film festivals for years, but it’s finally online and demands to be celebrated with a thimble of champagne and a small leaf of lettuce.
9. The Cub
Somewhere, probably in Portland, someone is taking Riley Stearns’ absurd story of a girl blithely handed to wolves by her parents as a serious lifestyle option. A bizarre offering, this is a Sears catalog given sentience and a pair of sharp teeth.