Where are my shorts?

Oscar-nominated Russian short film Lavatory-Lovestory.

Every year I make an earnest if not terribly motivated attempt to see the movies up the year’s Oscars in the big-ticket conversation-starter categories. People have seen these films, I figure, and liked them well enough, too.

The short films, however, are a different story entirely. Lavatory – Lovestory, nominated for best short animated film, rings no bells. Could it be an animated tale of former senator Larry Craig’s restroom foibles? A musical number staring Sheila the dancing plunger? Who knows.

A few years ago I did. I was living in Boston at the time, and bought tickets to an Oscar shorts program at a local art house cinema. There was beer. There were tacos from local Mexican empire Anna’s Taqueria. There was a descending cloud of self-satisfaction from the crowd, everyone smiling at one another as if to say, “Helloooo, fellow sophisticate. I, too, enjoy films of all lengths and styles. You’re so cool.” “No, you are.” “No. You are.” (Giggles and fawning ensued.)

I have to admit – I loved it. And not just the refreshments. The films themselves were incredible. There were nuggets of humor, poignant moments, drama, suspense, even romance. It was like someone had taken all the best ingredients in a feature length film and boiled them down to fit my booze and taco distracted attention span.

But as red carpet season approached this year, I couldn’t find the mini-films anywhere in Vegas. Sure, you can buy them off iTunes and watch them on your computer, but that means no plastic cups of suds, no tortillas, no shared sense of superiority.

I wanted my Academy Awards sampler platter, dammit, and Vegas seemed to be disturbingly shorts-less.

As Sunday approaches, I’ve more or less given up hope of seeing this year’s Oscar shorts. The Pig will stay a stinky yet surprisingly intelligent animal. Presto will still be what magicians say as they wave their hands over top hats. And my totally baseless pick for best animated short, Lavatory – Lovestory, will remain a wonderfully-titled mystery.

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