Looking for a leg up in your office Oscar pool? Check out this year's short film nominees, screening this week at the Gateway Film Center, so you can actually make educated guesses in those categories.

Looking for a leg up in your office Oscar pool? Check out this year's short film nominees, screening this week at the Gateway Film Center, so you can actually make educated guesses in those categories.

This year's animated crop includes kindly homeless folks, a bitter fairy godmother, a Wallace and Gromit murder mystery, a tussle between the grim reaper and a heroic doctor, and a logo-laden L.A. filled with foul-mouthed Michelin Men and a maniacal Ronald McDonald. (Fair warning: These may be cartoons, but most are not kid-friendly.)

On the more serious-minded live-action side, you've got a misfit magician, an eight-year-old loner who wakes from a nap to find his birthday wish (for his classmates to disappear) has come true, a family floundering in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, a young Indian boy who's treated as a modern-day slave, and a gay couple suffering through an awfully strange move-in day.

It's pretty amazing to see what these filmmakers can accomplish in a half-hour or (much) less.