If you have two-and-a-half hours to kill, you could re-watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 once… or you could see ten entire films from start to finish. Yup, it’s the annual release of the Oscar-nominated short films (live action and animated), coming to the Magnolia Theater in Uptown. It’s a great way to leverage your Oscar pool chances by one-to-one comparisons.

This year’s selection is promising, with all of the live actions clocking in around 20 minutes and four of the five animated shorts running 10 minutes or less. And for a welcome change, every animated film is good but not overly arty (I grow wearing of the wordless Czech stories in jumping line sketches about old men on journeys through their dark souls) but just flat-out fun. There’s even a sports-themed cartoon narrated by Kobe Bryant (Dear Basketball). The live actions tend toward the serious side (about murder victim Emmett Till, a deaf child, African oppression and a school shooting), with the one light-hearted entry a quirky Australian comedy (The Eleven O’Clock) about a delusional psychiatric patient.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Animated shorts show three times a day and live action twice daily at the Magnolia.