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Oscar-nominated short films
Clockwise from top: Let's Pollute, The Gruffalo, Wish 143, God of Love

If you're craving a movie fix but can't seem to make the two-hour commitment, we've got the solution: short films. Ranging anywhere from one to 30 minutes, these concise flicks pack just as much story and emotion as their full-length counterparts, if not more.

And there's no better introduction to the genre than this year's Oscar-nominees. You can view the current batch of shorts on iTunes, On Demand or, through early March, in theaters nationwide.

Each category--live action, animated, documentary--has its gems, but we're especially fond of Pixar's playful Day and Night, and Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann's beautiful The Lost Thing.

We're also fans of Film Festival in a Box ($15). Each of these carefully curated DVDs contains four shorts, organized by theme--we recommend the "Fantastic" collection for its whimsical short, The Windfisherman. Watch it with friends, then vote for your favorite online (directors with the most votes win funding, so it's a great way to support burgeoning filmmakers).

The best part of your newfound short-film knowledge? Your considerable edge in that upcoming Oscar pool.

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