Maybe you’re coming to this page because you laughed when Pedro Pascal made a joke about the title of Best Animated Short nominee My Year of Dicks during Sunday’s Oscar telecast. “What a funny title for a movie,” you said. “Too bad it didn’t win!” And you Googled it and this article came up.
I’m here to tell you that yes, it is too bad My Year of Dicks didn’t win. And while even the most diehard cinema fans don’t usually spend a lot of time talking about the shorts categories at the Oscars, I would like to take a moment to mourn the fact that, even in a year where the Academy gave plenty of awards to a truly unique movie, they could not bring themselves to reward the weirdest—and best—of the animated short films.
My Year of Dicks, directed by the Icelandic animator Sara Gunnarsdóttir and written and created by Ralph Breaks the Internet screenwriter Pamela Ribon, feels about a million miles away from the other nominees in this category. The other four films range from quirky (An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It, a meta-curio in which stop-motion character realizes he’s living inside a movie) to lovely (Ice Merchants and The Flying Sailor, two beautifully animated vignettes of airborne sorrow) to cloying (Apple TV+’s utterly dull The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse). But they all feel familiar, especially to anyone who regularly watches all of the nominated shorts. They may be for kids or they may be for adults, and they may aim merely to entertain or they may aim higher, but they hit unsurprising beats and tell the kinds of (fantastical, historical, goofy, sentimental) stories that nominated shorts often tell.
My Year of Dicks feels different. Based on Ribon’s memories (and video diaries) from 1991, the year she set out to lose her virginity, the animated memoir tells a spiky, specific, personal story. And it does it through a smorgasbord of styles and narrative tricks, a Gen-X genre-bending mashup of anime, horror, skate video, and cringe comedy. Each of the dicks young Pam meets has his own vibe, and the film adopts those vibes, just as Pam molds herself to try to fit into the tiny space each dick makes for her in his life. My Year of Dicks is a tribute to teen horniness, an ode to bad decisions, and an inspiring declaration that young women have the strength to shrug off some of the smaller traumas of teenage life.
It sucks that it didn’t win. (It’s especially a bummer that it lost to The Boy, the worst of the other shorts and the worst movie nominated in this category in years, a dire fable in which celebrity-voiced animals intone empty wisdom like “Nothing beats kindness. It sits quietly beyond all things.”) Luckily, you can watch it right now—it’s on Hulu and Vimeo for the week after the Oscars—and you should! Don’t merely remember My Year of Dicks as a title that made you and Pedro Pascal giggle during Oscar night. Remember it is an actual movie that made you guffaw, grossed you out, and opened your heart just a little bit.