Salon has put five Oscar-nominated shorts — three animated, two live-action — online for public consumption, albeit only for a single day. Watching the animated shorts online mostly makes me pine for a DVD or theater showing; streaming video is a horrible way to watch, well, anything really, but it’s particularly bad for watching animation, where you just know that you’re missing out on all kinds of details. And don’t even get me started on having to squint to see what’s happening in that teeny tiny window; thank goodness for the “zoom” feature on my Mac. Still, poor video is better than no video, and shorts of this quality are worth suffering through a little eye strain for.

Blur Studio’s “Gopher Broke” is a relatively low-concept piece, an old-fashioned Warner-Brothers-ish affair in which a hapless gopher tries to grab vegetables that fall off the backs of passing trucks, only to be foiled again and again. This piece probably suffers the most from the streaming format: a lot of its charm seems to be in the details of the characters’ movements, and is lost in the transition to the smaller, blurrier format. Still, it’s some fun watching.

If I had to pick one animator to declare my favorite (and I’m very glad I don’t), it would have to be Bill Plympton. It’s always nice to see new stuff of his, and it’s even nicer when that stuff is nominated for an Oscar. His “Guard Dog” is a look into the well-meaning, loyal, and insanely paranoid mind of a dog. It lacks some of the mind-bending grandeur of his early work, but is still chock-full of the delightful absurdity that is his trademark.

“Ryan,” by Chris Landreth, takes an unusual route for an animated film: it’s a biography. It traces the downward progression of Ryan Larkin from rock-star animator to junkie to panhandler, and uses that story as a mirror to reflect the director’s (and the audience’s) own fears. The novelty of being an “animated documentary” and the pathos of its subjects are enough to make “Ryan” a notable work, but it ups the ante even more with its formal ambitiousness.

Most computer-generated animation falls into three categories: abstract art that resembles a sort of evolved screensaver; “photorealism” that’s neither photographic nor realistic; and relatively conservative adaptations of traditional cartoon animation conventions. Landreth both masters and transcends all these categories, combining them into a wildly expressionistic style that takes its hyperrealistic figures, tears them apart, and puts them back together again, in the process exposing (quite literally) their inner thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. The result is a film that makes use of its artificial nature to achieve an honesty and openness so strong that not even streaming video can ruin it.