This year’s Oscar nominees for best animated short film are a characteristically delightful bunch, offering copious amounts of wit, whimsy and pathos. The films, showing at the Michigan Theater through Feb. 16, are also accompanied by four other shorts that were highly commended, but not nominated. Here’s a brief summary of the nominees, in increasing order of their likelihood of winning the Oscar.

“A Morning Stroll” — UK — 7 minutes

“A Morning Stroll” has perhaps the most stylized animation of any of the nominees. The film, directed by Grant Orchard, opens with a city in 1959, in which angular, black-and-white stick figures bustle down the sidewalks. One of these figures, in suit and fedora, sees a chicken walk down the street, onto a stoop and into a house. We then see the same event in 2009 and 2059, with appropriate changes in atmosphere and animation, giving way to a flashier CGI style. The film gets heavy-handed about its message, and isn’t as emotionally gratifying as some of the other contenders, but it’s an amusing little romp.

“Dimance/Sunday” — Canada — 9 minutes

“Sunday,” directed by Patrick Doyon, is animated in a loose, cartoon-like 2-D style, evoking more of a comic strip feel as opposed to the sleek, computer-animated 3-D that audiences have come to expect from Pixar and the like. The film tells a story about a lonely young boy trapped in the cold, adult world of his small town. The relaxed, imaginative animation gives the film a surreal atmosphere, which complements its touching, melancholy narrative well.

“Wild Life” — Canada — 14 minutes

“Wild Life,” set in 1909, tells the story of a young, upper-crust English man who gives up his bowler for a cowboy hat and travels to Canada in search of the rough life. The film, which begins rather cheerily, takes a melancholy turn, as life in the new country doesn’t turn out as he had planned. The painterly animation — complete with thick brushstrokes and stark landscapes, casts an old-fashioned feeling over the film that distinguishes it from the rest of the nominees, and “Wild Life” is witty and moving.

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” — USA — 15 minutes

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is a film, appropriately enough, about the magic of books. The story centers on a stone-faced, Buster Keaton-like character, who — along with the rest of his city — is hit by a windstorm and sucked through a vortex into a gray wasteland. Here, our hero discovers a magic library, and becomes a sort of curator, bringing his fellow refugees back to life through the power of literature. Animated in a precise, Pixaresque 3-D, the film creates, in 15 minutes, a captivating story of emotional weight rarely found even in feature-length productions.

“La Luna” — USA — 7 Minutes

While it may be too easy to pick a Pixar movie as a potential Oscar winner, it’s hard not to think “La Luna” will come away with the award for best animated short this year. With the studio’s Pixar style of expressive, larger-than-life characters and beautifully crafted images, “La Luna” tells the touching story of one little boy’s coming of age. The surreal, fable-like narrative of the boy’s discovery of a fantastical family business is grounded in the emotional reality of his struggles to find his own way amid the opposing influences of his father and grandfather. It’s incredible how much beauty and pathos director Enrico Casarosa managed to squeeze into such a short film, and “La Luna” bursts with imagination and feeling.

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