250 Great Animated Shorts: The List

250 Great Animated Shorts: The List

In 2008, I organized a team of animation enthusiasts to create the list “100 Important Directors of Animated Short Films.” The list was formally published on Kevin B. Lee’s blog Shooting Down Pictures and Fandor’s Keyframe and currently resides on my cultural history blog, 21 Essays.

This year, I returned to my old friends and proposed revisiting the subject with the construction of another list followed by a blow-out celebration of the art of the animated short film.  Completed in late August 2012, our new list is titled “250 Great Animated Short Films.” And that blow-out celebration is now officially in progress: two straight months of cartoon love with pieces published both at 21 Essays and here on Press Play.

To compose our new list, I convened a panel of seven animation enthusiasts—Scott Bussey, Jorge Didaco, Waldemar Hepstein, Bill Kamberger, Robert Reynolds, Sulo Vatanen, and myself.  With additional help from other enthusiasts, we spent a month nominating, watching, and voting upon hundreds of films.

As a guide for making our selections, I asked my fellow panelists to make an effort to keep the list chronologically balanced  (with a representative sampling of shorts from each decade), geographically diverse, and with a reasonable proportion of female to male directors.  Our definition of a short film was 40 minutes or less, and we worked without a set definition of what constitutes an animated film.

And please note that we’ve been very careful to avoid claiming that this is a “best of…” list.  Our goal was simply to select some of the greatest for celebration.

Of course, I’d be shocked if anyone is entirely satisfied with our selection.  I know I’m not!  But I’m still proud of this list.  Somehow I lucked out with my volunteer panelists, managing to strike a happy balance between traditionalists and boundary-pushers.  I was hoping for a list with great Disney and WB cartoons, abstract animations by Fischinger and Lye, weirdness from Svankmajer and the Quay brothers, and profundity from Norshteyn and Back.  And that’s what I got!  I’m very happy indeed.

For the next two months, my friends and I will be contributing pieces about some of our favorites from the list.  The blog entries on 21 Essays will explore common themes like time and memory, love and courtship, and war and violence. 

On Press Play, a series of weekly entries will examine some of the sources of inspiration, such as folk tales, classic literature, and other art forms  (painting, music, and theater). 

Taken together, this pair of series will constitute our two-pronged celebration.

And it all starts with the list…



The Early Years  (1895-1919)

Around a Bathing Hut / Autour d’une cabine (Émile Reynaud, France, 1895) 

The Electric Hotel / El hotel eléctrico (Segundo de Chomón, Spain, 1908) 

Fantasmagorie (Émile Cohl, France, 1908) 

Little Nemo / Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics (Winsor McCay, USA, 1911) 

The Cameraman’s Revenge / Mest kinematograficheskogo operatora (Wladyslaw Starewicz, Russia, 1912) 

How a Mosquito Operates (Winsor McCay, USA, 1912) 

Gertie the Dinosaur (Winsor McCay, USA, 1914) 

Captain Grogg’s Wonderful Journey / Kapten Groggs underbara resa (Victor Bergdahl, Sweden, 1916) 


The 1920s

The Frogs Who Wanted a King / Les grenouilles qui demandent un roi (Wladyslaw Starewicz, France, 1922)

Felix In Hollywood (Otto Messmer, USA, 1923) 

Opus III (Walter Ruttmann, Germany, 1924) 

Symphonie diagonale (Viking Eggeling, Germany, 1924) 

Now You Tell One (Charley Bowers, USA, 1926) 

Spiritual Constructions / Seelische Konstruktionen (Oskar Fischinger, Germany, 1927)

Steamboat Willie (Walt Disney, USA, 1928) 

Ghosts Before Breakfast / Vormittagsspuk (Hans Richter, 1928) 

Hell’s Bells (Ub Iwerks, US, 1929) 

The Skeleton Dance (Walt Disney, USA, 1929) 

The Stolen Lump / Kobu-Tori (Chuzo Aoji and Yasuji Murata, Japan, 1929) 


The 1930s

The Idea / L’idée  (Berthold Bartosch, 1932) 

Night on Bald Mountain / Une nuit sur le mont chauve (Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker, France, 1933) 

Snow-White (Dave Fleischer, USA, 1933) 

Three Little Pigs (Burt Gillett, USA, 1933) 

A Dream Walking (Dave Fleischer, USA, 1934) 

The Mascot / Fétiche (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1934) 

The Joy of Living / La joie de vivre (Anthony Gross & Hector Hoppin, France, 1934) 

The Band Concert (Wilfred Jackson, USA, 1935) 

Papageno (Lotte Reiniger, Germany, 1935) 

Who Killed Cock Robin? (David Hand, USA, 1935) 

Rainbow Dance (Len Lye, UK, 1936) 

Clock Cleaners (Ben Sharpsteen, USA, 1938) 

Escape (Mary Ellen Bute, USA, 1937) 

The Little Match Girl (Arthur Davis, USA, 1937) 

The Old Mill (Wilfred Jackson, USA, 1937) 

Ferdinand the Bull (Dick Rickard, USA, 1938) 

Porky in Wackyland (Bob Clampett, USA, 1938) 

Peace on Earth (Hugh Harman, USA, 1939) 


The 1940s

Mr. Duck Steps Out (Jack King, USA, 1940) 

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company “B” (Walter Lantz, USA, 1941) 

The Night Before Christmas (Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, USA, 1941) 

Rhapsody In Rivets (Friz Freleng, USA, 1941) 

Blitz Wolf (Tex Avery, USA, 1942)

Der Fuehrer’s Face (Jack Kinney, USA, 1942) 

Tulips Shall Grow (George Pal, USA, 1942) 

Donald’s Tire Trouble (Dick Lundy, USA, 1943) 

Education For Death (Clyde Geronimi, USA, 1943) 

Porky Pig’s Feat (Frank Tashlin, USA, 1943) 

Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, USA, 1943) 

Weatherbeaten Melody / Scherzo – Verwitterte Melodie (Hans Fischerkoesen, Germany, 1943) 

The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen / Abenteuer des Freiherrn. von Münchhausen: Eine Winterreise (Hans Held, Germany, 1944) 

The Chimney Thief / Le voleur de paratonnerres (Paul Grimault, France, 1944) 

Daffy Doodles (Robert McKimson, USA, 1946) 

Kitty Kornered (Robert Clampett, USA, 1946) 

The Cat Concerto (Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, USA, 1947) 

King-Size Canary (Tex Avery, USA, 1947) 

The Little Soldier / Le petit soldat (Paul Grimault, France, 1947) 

Motion Painting No. 1 (Oskar Fischinger, USA, 1947) 

Bad Luck Blackie (Tex Avery, USA, 1949) 

Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1949) 

High Diving Hare (Friz Freleng, USA, 1949) 

Inspiration / Inspirace (Karel Zeman, Czechoslovakia, 1949) 


The 1950s

Rabbit of Seville (Chuck Jones, USA, 1950) 

Gerald McBoing Boing (Robert Cannon, USA, 1951) 

Rooty Toot Toot (John Hubley, USA, 1951) 

Neighbours (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1952) 

Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones, USA, 1953) 

The Tell-Tale Heart (Ted Parmelee, USA, 1953) 

Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (Ward Kimball & Charles A. Nichols, USA, 1953) 

The Unicorn in the Garden (William T. Hurtz, USA, 1953) 

One Froggy Evening (Chuck Jones, USA, 1955) 

What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, USA, 1957) 

Free Radicals (Len Lye, UK, 1958) 

House / Dom (Walerian Borowczyk & Jan Lenica, Poland, 1958) 

The Tender Game (John Hubley, USA, 1958) 

The Lion and the Song / Lev a písnicka (Bretislav Pojar, Czechoslovakia, 1959) 


The 1960s

Little Tadpoles Search for Mama / Xiao ke dou zhao ma ma (Wei Te, China, 1960) 

The Ash-Lad and the Good Helpers / Askeladden og de gode hjelperne (Ivo Caprino, Norway, 1961) 

Surogat / Ersatz (Dusan Vukotic, Yugoslavia, 1961) 

Story of a Certain Street Corner / Aru machikado no monogatari (Eiichi Yamamoto & Yusaku Sakamoto, Japan, 1962) 

Labirynt (Jan Lenica, Poland, 1963) 

Le nez / The Nose (Alexander Alexeieff & Claire Parker, France, 1963)

The Hangman (Paul Julian & Les Goldman, USA, 1964) 

The Thieving Magpie / La gazza ladra (Emanuele Luzzati and Giulio Gianini, Italy, 1964) 

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (Chuck Jones, USA, 1965)

Gymnopédies (Larry Jordan, USA, 1965) 

The Hand / Ruka (Jirí Trnka, Czechoslovakia, 1966) 

My Green Crocodile / Moy zelenyy krokodil (Vadim Kurchevskiy, USSR, 1966) 

The Seventh Father in the House / Sjuende far i huset (Ivo Caprino, Norway, 1966) 

The Snowman / Snehulák (Hermína Týrlová, Czechoslovakia, 1966) 

Curiosity / Znatizelja (Borivoj Dovnikovic, Yugoslavia, 1967) 

Life in a Tin / Una vita in scatola (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy, 1967) 

The Mitten / Varezhka (Roman Kachanov, USSR, 1967) 

Ball of Yarn / Klubok (Nikolai Serebryakov, USSR, 1968) 

Pas de deux (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1968) 

Storytime (Terry Gilliam, UK, 1968) 

Ballerina on the Boat / Balerina na korable (Lev Atamanov, USSR, 1969) 

Walking / En marchant (Ryan Larkin, Canada, 1969) 

Schody  (Stairs) (Stefan Schabenbeck, Poland, 1969) 


The 1970s

Film, Film, Film (Fyodor Khitruk, USSR, 1970) 

Is It Always Right To Be Right? (Lee Mishkin, USA, 1970) 

Pixillation (Lillian Schwartz, USA, 1970) 

The Roll-Call / Apel (Ryszard Czekala, Poland, 1971) 

The Battle of Kerzhenets / Secha pri Kerzhentse (Ivan Ivanov-Vano & Yuriy Norshteyn, 1971) 

A Christmas Carol (Richard Williams, USA, 1971) 

Evolution (Michael Mills, Canada, 1971) 

How a Sausage Dog Works / Jak dziala jamniczek (Julian Józef Antonisz, Poland, 1971) 

The Selfish Giant (Peter Sander, Canada, 1971) 

Butterfly / Babochka (Andrey Khrzhanovskiy, USSR, 1972) 

Tchou-Tchou (Co Hoedeman, Canada, 1972) 

Coeur de secours (Piotr Kamler, France, 1973) 

Frank Film (Caroline & Frank Mouris, USA, 1973) 

Heavy-Light (Adam Beckett, USA, 1973) 

Café Bar (Alison De Vere, UK, 1974) 

Closed Mondays (Will Vinton, USA, 1974) 

The Diary / Dnevnik (Nedeljko Dragic, Yugoslavia, 1974) 

Fuji (Robert Breer, USA, 1974) 

Great  (Isambard Kingdom Brunel) (Bob Godfrey, UK, 1975) 

Hedgehog in the Fog / Yozhik v tumane (Yuriy Norshteyn, USSR, 1975) 

Dojoji Temple (Kihachiro Kawamoto, Japan, 1976) 

Mindscape / Le paysagiste (Jacques Drouin, Canada, 1976) 

The Street (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1976) 

The Bead Game (Ishu Patel, Canada, 1977) 

Crane Feathers / Zhuravlinye per'ya (Ideya Garanina, USSR, 1977) 

David (Paul Driessen, Netherlands, 1977) 

The Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa (Caroline Leaf, Canada, 1977) 

Powers of Ten (Charles & Ray Eames, USA, 1977) 

The Sand Castle / Le château de sable (Co Hoedeman, Canada, 1977) 

Boy and Girl / Malchik i devochka (Rozaliya Zelma, USSR, 1978) 

Poor Lisa / Bednaya Liza (Ideya Garanina, USSR, 1978) 

Rowing Across the Atlantic / La Traversée de l'Atlantique à la rame (Jean

François Laguionie, France, 1978) 

Satiemania (Zdenko Gasparovic, Yugoslavia, 1978) 

Asparagus (Suzan Pitt, USA, 1979) 

Every Child (Eugene Fedorenko, Canada, 1979) 

Harpya (Raoul Servais, Belgium, 1979) 

House of Flame/ Kataku  (Kihachiro Kawamoto, Japan, 1979) 

Tale of Tales/ Skazka skazok  (Yuriy Norshteyn, USSR, 1979) 


The 1980s

Fisheye/ Riblje oko  (Josko Marusic, Yugoslavia, 1980) 

The Three Inventors / Les 3 inventeurs (Michel Ocelot, France, 1980) 

Tyll the Giant / Suur Tõll (Rein Raamat, USSR, 1980) 

Who Will Comfort Toffle? / Vem skall trösta knyttet? (Johan Hagelbäck, Sweden, 1980) 

The Circle / O kyklos  (Iordanis Ananiadis, Greece, 1981) 

The Fly / A Légy (Ferenc Rófusz, Hungary, 1981) 

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Mark Hall, UK, 1981) 

Skyscraper / Neboder (Josko Marusic, Yugoslavia, 1981) 

Tango (Zbigniew Rybczynski, Poland, 1981) 

Crac (Frédéric Back, Canada, 1981) 

Block / Blok (Hieronim Neumann, Poland, 1982) 

Dimensions of Dialogue / Moznosti dialogu (Jan Svankmajer, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

Ex Libris (Garik Seko, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

The Snowman (Dianne Jackson, UK, 1982) 

There Once Was a Dog / Zhil-byl pyos (Eduard Nazarov, USSR, 1982) 

Three Monks / San ge heshang (Jingda Xu  (A Da), China, 1982) 

The Vanished World of Gloves / Zaniklý svet rukavic (Jirí Barta, Czechoslovakia, 1982) 

Esperalia (Jerzy Kalina, Poland, 1983) 

Memories of War (Pierre Hébert, Canada, 1983) 

Anna & Bella (Børge Ring, Netherlands, 1984) 

The Dark Side of the Moon / Obratnaya storona luny (Aleksandr Tatarskiy, USSR, 1984) 

Film-Wipe-Film (Paul Glabicki, USA, 1984) 

Jumping (Osamu Tezuka, Japan, 1984) 

There Will Come Soft Rains / Budet laskovyy dozhd (Nozim To'laho'jayev, USSR, 1984) 

Paradise (Ishu Patel, Canada, 1985) 

The Big Snit (Richard Condie, Canada, 1986) 

Door / Dver (Nina Shorina, USSR, 1986) 

George and Rosemary (David Fine & Alison Snowden, Canada, 1987) 

How Wang-Fo Was Saved / Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé (René Laloux, France, 1987) 

Lodgers of an Old House / Zhiltsy starogo doma (Alexei Karev, USSR, 1987) 

The Man Who Planted Trees / L’homme qui plantait des arbres (Frédéric Back, Canada, 1987) 

Street of Crocodiles (Stephen & Timothy Quay, UK, 1987) 

Your Face (Bill Plympton, USA, 1987) 

The Cat Came Back (Cordell Barker, Canada, 1988) 

Death and the Mother (Ruth Lingford, UK, 1988) 

Face Like a Frog (Sally Cruikshank, USA, 1988) 

Feelings of Mountains and Waters / Shan shui qing (Wei Te, China, 1988) 

Pas à deux (Monique Renault & Gerrit van Dijk, Netherlands, 1988) 

Prometheus’ Garden (Bruce Bickford, USA, 1988) 

The Public Voice / Den offentlige røst (Lejf Marcussen, Denmark, 1988) 

Walls / Sciany (Piotr Dumala, Poland, 1988) 

Balance  (Christoph Lauenstein & Wolfgang Lauenstein, West Germany, 1989) 

The Cow / Korova (Aleksandr Petrov, USSR, 1989) 

Darkness/Light/Darkness / Tma/Svetlo/Tma (Jan Svankmajer, Czechoslovakia, 1989) 

The Hill Farm (Mark Baker, UK, 1989) 

Knick Knack (John Lasseter, USA, 1989) 

Mind the Steps! / Vigyázat, lépcsö! (István Orosz, Hungary, 1989) 


The 1990s

Grasshoppers / Cavallette (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy, 1990) 

Manipulation  (Daniel Greaves, UK, 1991) 

The Sandman (Paul Berry, UK, 1991) 

Strings  (Wendy Tilby, Canada, 1991) 

When the Leaves Have Fallen Down from the Oak / Az opadá listí z dubu (Vlasta Pospísilová, Czechoslovakia, 1991) 

Franz Kafka (Piotr Dumala, Poland, 1992) 

Hotell E  (Priit Pärn, Estonia, 1992) 

Milk of Amnesia (Jeffrey Noyes Scher, USA, 1992) 

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase (Joan C. Gratz, USA, 1992) 

The Restaurant of Many Orders / Chumon no ooi ryori-ten (Tadanari Okamoto, Japan, 1993) 

The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park, UK, 1993) 

Carmen Trilogy  (Carmen Torero, Carmen Habanera, Carmen Suite) (Aleksandra Korejwo, Poland, 1994 – 1996) 

Felix in Exile (William Kentridge, South Africa, 1994) 

The Monk and the Fish / Le moine et le poisson (Michael Dudok de Wit, France, 1994) 

Triangle (Erica Russell, UK, 1994) 

Achilles  (Barry Purves, UK, 1995) 

Repete (Michaela Pavlátová, Czech Republic, 1995)

Famous Paintings / Beroemde schilderijen (Maarten Koopman, Netherlands, 1996) 

Genre  (Don Hertzfeldt, USA, 1996) 

Quest (Tyron Montgomery, Germany, 1996) 

Christmas / Rozhdestvo (Mikhail Aldashin, Russia, 1997) 

Glassy Ocean / Kujira no Chouyaku (Shigeru Tamura, Japan, 1998) 

More (Mark Osborne, USA, 1998) 

The Old Lady and the Pigeons / La vieille dame et les pigeons (Sylvain Chomet, France, 1998) 

The Old Man and the Sea (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 1999) 


The 2000s

Adagio / Adazhio (Garry Bardin, Russia, 2000) 

At the Ends of the Earth / Au bout du Monde (Konstantin Bronzit, France, 2000) 

Le chapeau (Michèle Cournoyer, Canada, 2000) 

Father and Daughter (Michael Dudok de Wit, UK/Belgium/Netherlands, 2000) 

Tuning the Instruments / Strojenie instrumentów (Jerzy Kucia, Poland, 2000) 

Aria  (Pjotr Sapegin, Canada/Norway, 2001) 

Black Soul / Âme noire  (Martine Chartrand, Canada, 2001) 

Cat Soup / Nekojiru-so (Tatsuo Sato, Japan, 2001) 

Down to the Bone / Hasta los huesos (René Castillo, Mexico, 2002) 

Dream Work (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2002) 

A Summer Night Rendez-vous / Au premier dimanche d’août (Florence Miailhe, France, 2002) 

Destino  (Dominique Monfery, France/USA, 2003) 

Fast Film (Virgil Widrich, Austria/Germany/Luxembourg, 2003) 

Harvie Krumpet (Adam Elliot, Australia, 2003) 

Rocks / Das Rad (Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel & Heidi Wittlinger, Germany, 2003) 

Voices of a Distant Star / Hoshi no koe (Makoto Shinkai, Japan, 2003) 

The Dream of an Old Oak / Quercus (Vuk Jevremovic, Germany, 2004) 

The Man With No Shadow / L’Homme sans ombre (Georges Schwizgebel, Canada/Switzerland, 2004) 

Ryan  (Chris Landreth, Canada, 2004)

Brothers Bearhearts / Vennad Karusüdamed (Riho Unt, Estonia, 2005) 

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (Anthony Lucas, Australia, 2005) 

The Danish Poet (Torill Kove, Norway/Canada, 2006) 

Dreams and Desires (Joanna Quinn, UK, 2006) 

The Legend of Shangri-La (Chen Ming, China, 2006) 

My Love / Moya lyubov (Aleksandr Petrov, Russia, 2006) 

Never Like the First Time! / Aldrig som första gången! (Jonas Odell, Sweden, 2006) 

Peter & the Wolf (Suzie Templeton, UK, 2006) 

Printed Rainbow (Gitanjali Rao, India, 2006) 

The Tale of How (The Blackheart Gang: Ree Treweek, Jannes Hendrikz & Markus Wormstorm, South Africa, 2006) 

Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor / Kafuka: Inaka isha (Koji Yamamura, Japan, 2007) 

False Aging (Lewis Klahr, USA, 2008) 

The House of Small Cubes / La Maison en Petits Cubes / Tsumiki no ie (Kunio Katô, Japan, 2008) 

My Childhood Mystery Tree (Natalia Mirzoyan, Russia, 2008) 

Orgesticulanismus  (Mathieu Labaye, Belgium, 2008) 

Skhizein (Jérémy Clapin, France, 2008) 

This Way Up (Adam Foulkes & Alan Smith, UK, 2008) 

Quimby the Mouse (Chris Ware, USA, 2009) 

Invention of Love (Andrey Shushkov, Russia, 2010) 

Pandane to Tamago-hime (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2010) 

Restart (Miao Xiaochun, China, 2010) 

The Silence Beneath the Bark / Le silence sous l'écorce (Joanna Lurie, France, 2010)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg, USA, 2011)

Lee Price is the Director of Development at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (Philadelphia, PA). In addition, he writes a popular fundraising column for Public Libraries, writes a tourism/history blog called "Tour America's Treasures," and recently concluded two limited-duration blogs, "June and Art" and "Preserving a Family Collection."

5 thoughts on “250 Great Animated Shorts: The List”

  1. Nice collection of animation stories here. I like all of them. I am also a animation film maker how can I get listed here?
    short animated video


  2. Thanks for the list! This is certainly a great conversation-starter, but also a big head-scratcher and some very "safe" choices. For instance, how curious you listed Don Hertzfeldt's "Genre," but not his "Rejected," "Beautiful Day," or "Everything will be OK."


  3. Did you consider these?

    The Whale by Noburo Ofuji

    Passing Days by Nedeljko Dragic

    The Further Adventures of Uncle Sam by Dale Case and Bob Mitchell

    Sisyphus by Marcell Jankovics

    Dedalo by Manfredo Manfredi

    Swing You Sinners by Fleischer

    Wind by Ron Tunis

    Vincent by Tim Burton

    Bimbo's Inititiation by Fleischer

    Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor by Fleischer

    Little Rural Riding Hood by Tex Avery

    Allegretto by Oskar Fischinger

    Les Jeux de anges by Walerian Borowczyk

    The Critic by Ernie Pintoff

    Flebus by Ernie Pintoff

    Break! by Garri Bardin

    Le Peau du Chagrin by Vladimir Kristl

    Bigger is Better by Derek Phillips

    The Dover Boys by Chuck Jones

    Horton Hatches the Egg by Bob Clampett


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