Will ‘Piper’ break Pixar losing streak at Oscars for Best Animated Short?

Among the five Oscar nominees this year for Best Animated Short Film, two stand out from the pack: the independently produced “Pearl,” which chronicles a father-daughter road trip, and the Pixar entry “Piper,” a cute little animals tale.

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While Pixar has won this Oscar race three times, it last victory was way back in 2001 with “For the Birds.” Since then, it lost eight times, most recently last year when “Sanjay’s Super Team” was bested by “Bear Story.”

“Pearl” is directed by Patrick Osbourne, who won two years ago for the Disney entry “Feast.” This six-minute short is the first Virtual Reality film to be nominated for an Academy Award. It is a “360 degree Google Spotlight story” and is told from the visual perspective of the driver’s seat. And it’s a musical. That could help it win over some “La La Land” lovers with its own heartfelt song.

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While “Pearl” won three of its four bids at the Annie Awards, it lost the big one, Animated Short Subject to none other than, you guessed it, Alan Barillaro‘s “Piper.” This charming six-minute short, which played in front of the studio’s summer release “Finding Dory,” centers on a baby bird who has a hard time finding food for herself after a traumatic experience makes her fearful of the ocean.

In spite of winning the Animated Feature Oscar race eight out of 10 times, Pixar has lost its last eight bids in this category. But the studio may have found a winning formula with “Piper”: cute animals. Last year’s winner, “Bear Story, was about bears while “Feast” featured a little dog. And “Mr. Hublot” (2013) was all about a man and his small robotic dog.

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And consider this trend: beginning with “Paperman” (2012), every other year the Annie Awards winner has gone to take home the Oscar. It went that way for “Feast” in 2014 but not for “Get A Horse” in 2013, which lost the Oscar to “Mr. Hublot” and “World of Tomorrow,” which was bested by “Bear Story.”

It is the turn of the Annies to get it right again. That could be why 17 of our Oscar experts are backing Pixar and “Piper” for the win, giving it leading odds of 4/9. What do you think?

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