With the Shorts HD package of Oscar-nominated short films out in release, you've probably run into plenty of analysis pieces breaking down the three categories. Here is ours, in case you missed it. In the meantime, though, Shorts HD has really stepped things up on the overall presence of this program.

Included below is a video playlist of a number of this year's nominees talking in some detail about their films. This is a lovely bit of insight into a trio of categories that, even with media coverage of the theatrical package, can remain a bit of a mystery to readers.

I find myself going in a couple of different directions on these lately. The Best Animated Short Film category, for instance, features a number of enticing choices. My instinct has been "The Dam Keeper" since I first got a look at everything a few months ago, but of course Disney's "Feast" is well-known and beloved, and unlike "Get a Horse!" (which lost to "Mr. Hublot" last year), it's a bit more substantive in general. All of that said, animators would surely be impressed with "The Bigger Picture," my personal favorite of the bunch and the BAFTA winner in the category. But remember, it's not just animators who can vote on these races now.

On the live action side, "The Phone Call" has the recognizable stars, but it's pretty contained. Films like "Parvaneh" and "Boogaloo and Graham" tell more complete stories, while "Aya" is probably the richer experience overall. Tough call. My instinct has been "The Phone Call" but who knows?

And the docs, well, lots of downer stories, as we've noted. "Joanna" is the most artful, perhaps, but "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" has immediacy and could resonate for that.

Again, you can read more in-depth considerations of these categories here. Meanwhile, we'll be bringing you some final lap columns next week, but we won't be doing the full gamut of categories via the usual "Oscar Guide" feature. Greg and I will rattle off the major categories and a couple others besides and Gerard will break down the below-the-line categories one more time, so the spectrum will be covered. Final predictions will drop on Thursday, Feb. 19.

Dig a little further into the shorts with the nominated filmmakers below.

Kristopher Tapley has covered the film awards landscape for over a decade. He founded In Contention in 2005. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London and Variety. He begs you not to take any of this too seriously.