July 18, 2019

What are the 50+ Best Short Films of All Time on YouTube?

The best short films of all time were hard to find in days past. But now, with YouTube, they're only just a click away! 

Making a short film can be your ticket into creating a name for yourself in Hollywood. It feels like all content these days are getting shorter and shorter. When you look at streamers like Quibi, they're creating content that's fifteen minutes long, maximum. But this is not a new idea, even Stanley Kubrick saw the future of entertainment as short films. 

And even Netflix released Love, Death, and Robots as a series built on short interpretations of the future. 

We've covered how to write a short film, so today I want to highlight 50+ of the best short films on YouTube. Watching them can inspire you to be a better filmmaker. 

So without further ado...

The 50+ Best Short Films on YouTube

I perused the internet and tried to pick some of the best short films available. If you know of others, please leave them in the comments and I will add them. I sorted them via film genre to make it easier. This is not a ranking, just a list of resources. I'm excited to hear what you think and hope it starts a discussion. 

All information for loglines and credits from IMDB

The Best Drama Short Films

About a Girl

Logline: A girl tells the story of her life and hopes for the future.

Directed by Brian Percival

Written by Julie Rutterford

Paperman 

Logline: An office worker meets the girl of his dreams and uses a fleet of paper airplanes to get her attention.

Directed by Jon Kahrs 

Written by Clio Chiang, Kendelle Hoyer

Dawn

Logline: Dawn is a quiet young teenager who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life.

Directed by Rose McGowan

Written by M.A. Fortin, Joshua John Miller

Validation

Logline: A fable about a parking attendant who gives his customers REAL validation -- dispensing both free parking and free compliments.

Directed & Written by Kurt Kuenne

Harvie Krumpet

Logline: The odd biography of a man who has Tourette's Syndrome, chronic bad luck, menial jobs, nudist tendencies, and a book of "fakts" hung around his neck

Directed & Written by Adam Elliot 

Tall Enough 

Logline: In this day-in-the-life piece, a young, interracial couple explore their relationship on a quiet Saturday in Brooklyn.

Directed & Written by Barry Jenkins

Wasp

Logline: Zoë is a single mother who lives with her four children in Dartford. She is poor and can't afford to buy food. One day her ex-boyfriend drives by and asks her to go on a date with him. Scared that he doesn't want to go out with her, she lies and tells him that she is just babysitting the kids. This will be her first date in years.

Directed & Written by Andrea Arnold

Bombshell

Logline: Young ten-year-old Daisy hates dresses. She much prefers her brother Jude’s loose-fitting clothing. Her favorite nail polish is a black Sharpie. It’s the Fourth of July and the two have been left alone to watch fireworks on TV while their mother goes on a date. But the older teens Hunter and Ryan lure the siblings out of the house for a night full of pranks, trouble and a moral quandary.

Directed & Written by Erin Sanger

I Feel Stupid

Logline: Welcome to the awkward sexually charged silence of teenage life.

Directed by Milena Pastreich

Written by Ana Lily Amirpour 

One Day

Logline: After he gets out of the toilets, a man is being chased by a human-sized turd, claiming to be the man's child. "Why have you abandoned me?" is the question the turd keeps on asking. First, the man is embarrassed by the annoying presence of the turd, then he slowly accepts it alongside him...

Directed & Written by Michel Gondry

Thunder Road

Logline: Jimmy Arnaud eulogizes his mother.

Directed & Written by Jim Cummings

Small Deaths

Logline: Captures three occurrences in a young girl's life that leave her with a heavy heart.

Directed & Written by Lynne Ramsay

Life

Logline: Life is simple. Why complicate it? 

Directed & Written by Vignesh Venugopal

The Life of Death

Logline: Is it right to be treated as a weirdo just because you are Death incarnate? Even Death has feelings, and God forbid, even Death may die.

Directed & Written by Mark Dubiniec

The Best Western Short Films

The Gunfighter 

Logline: In the tradition of classic westerns, a narrator sets up the story of a lone gunslinger who walks into a saloon. However, the people in this saloon can hear the narrator and the narrator may just be a little bit bloodthirsty.

Directed by Eric Kissack

Written by Kevin Tenglin

I am John Wayne

Logline: A lyrical portrait of 'Taco', a young urban cowboy struggling with the death of his best friend.

Directed & Written by Christina Choe

The Last Real Cowboys

Logline: Around the classic 1800's Western campfire, Slope and Tar tangle about what's been, what will be, and who may or may not survive the first New Age chat in the Old West.

Directed & Written by Jeff Lester

The Good Time Girls 

Logline: A group of women band together as they go to war against a pack of men who have done them wrong at every turn.

Directed & Written by Courtney Hoffman

The New West

Logline: A classic revenge tale begins in a schoolyard and ends at the heart of the modern frontier.

Directed & Written by Peter Edlund

Blood is my Name 

Logline: A short film musical narrative in the style of Americana folklore.

Directed by Brandom McCormick

Written by Brandom McCormick, Nicholas Kirk, Charlie Wetzel

Malaria

Logline: A young mercenary is hired to kill Death.

Directed & Written by Edson Oda

The Best Comedy Short Films

The Elevator

Logline: A short film about riding the elevator.

Directed & Written by Greg Glienna

Bar Talk 

Logline: In a dusty Texas bar, a chatty stranger insists on striking up a conversation with the man sitting next to him. The more this out-of-towner talks, the more obvious it is he's not from 'round here. Heck, he's not even from this planet! Based on the short story by Joe R. Lansdale.

Directed by Lowell Northrop

Written by Joe R. Lansdale

The Most Beautiful Thing 

Logline: A down-on-his-luck boy finds love in the most unexpected way.

Directed & Written by Cameron Covell

Trevor

Logline: Upon hitting puberty, a high-school boy realizes he is homosexual and faces prejudice from his parents and friends.

Directed by Peggy Rajski

Written by James Lecesne, Bruce Vilanch

Six Shooter

Logline: A black and bloody Irish comedy about a sad train journey where an older man, whose wife has died that morning, encounters a strange and possibly psychotic young oddball....

Directed & Written by Martin McDonough

I'll Wait for the Next One

Logline: A man falls in love while in a subway station.

Directed & Written by Philippe Orreindy

The New Tenants 

Logline: A nosy neighbor, a drug dealer, and an angry husband make for a move-in day that two men will never forget.

Directed by Jaochim Back

Written by  Anders Thomas Jensen (original screenplay "De Nye Lejere"), David Rakoff (adaptation)

Multi-Facial

Logline: A short film about the problems that accompany an actor as he auditions, due to his multi-ethnic appearance.

Directed & Written by Vin Diesel

Gregory Go Boom

Logline: A paraplegic man leaves home to be on his own.

Directed & Written by Janicza Bravo

Writer's Block

Logline: A vexed screenwriter, an elusive woman and the thin line between fact and fiction.

Directed by Brandon Polanco

Written by Brandon Polanco, Spenser Granese (co-writer)

Connection

Logline: A celebrity meets a person at the airport. All is fine until the person finds out that if they return home, they will be arrested.

Directed by  Vladimir Shcherban

Written by Nikolai Khalezin, Laura Wade

The Best Science Fiction Short Films

I'm You, Dickhead 

Logline: A man travels back in time to force his 10-year-old self to learn guitar so that he can get more action with the ladies in the present day.

Directed by Lucas Testro

Written by Larry Boxshall

Blue Season

Logline: Sarah wakes up to find herself hanging upside down. As she screams for help a phone rings and the person, on the other hand, helps her escape. Is all as it seems to be?

Directed by Georgina Higgins, Lee Jones

Written by Georgina Higgins 

Sight 

Logline: A short futuristic film featuring Augmented reality and Gamification. by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo. This is a graduation project from Bezaleal academy of arts.

Directed by Daniel Lazo (co-director), Eran May-Raz (co-director)

Written by Natalie Doten (narration)

The Door

Logline: A father's desperate attempt to come to terms with the devastating effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Directed & Written by Juanita Wilson

Meltdown 

Logline: Last night's leftovers are presented with a cold reality. A massive ice block has invaded the refrigerator and is swallowing the food one item at a time. In an epic struggle for their survival, Spaghetti, Ham Sandwich, and Celery embark on a journey to the refrigerator's temperature control knob.

Directed by Dave Green

Written by Daniel Hartley

Pumzi

Logline: A sci-fi film about Africa in the future, 35 years after World War III, the water war.

Directed & Written by Wanuri Kahiu

Zari

Logline: A housemaid robot in the near future begins to adapt to the world around it.

Directed & Written by Courtney Marsh

Blinky 

Logline: A young boy living in the near future looks for an escape from a home with arguing parents. As a way to cope with the recent arguments from his parents he receives a robot companion that he ends up abusing.

Directed & Written by Ruairi Robinson 

Welcome to Earth

Logline: It’s 2618 and humans are extinct. Four aliens travel to Earth to visit the museum of humanity. There they find the story of the last heroes of humanity, setting out to find help.

Directed & Written by Daan van 't Einde

The Best Horror / Thriller Short Films 

Lights Out 

Logline: When you are all alone in a small dark room, what do you fear the most? Is it the temporary blindness or is it the uneasy deep feeling that someone, or rather something, is observing your every move?

Directed & Written by David Sandberg

Tuck Me In

Logline: Alex asks his father to tuck him in, but that's not the only thing he asks for.

Directed by Ignacio F. Rodó

Written by  Juan J. Ruiz (based on a story by), Ignacio Rodó (adaptation) (as Ignacio F. Rodó)

Still Life 

Logline: A pill-popping, over-caffeinated driver accidentally hits something. Panic-stricken, he searches for help in a strange and desolate town that offers very little in the form of human kindness.

Directed by Jon Knautz

Written by Charles Kohnston

Cargo

Logline: Stranded in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a man sets in motion an unlikely plan to protect his infant daughter.

Directed by Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Written by Yolanda Ramke

Lick the Star

Logline: A clique of school girls devises a secret plan that they code-name "Lick the Star".

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Written by Sofia Coppola, Stephanie Hayman

The Birch

Logline: A bullied schoolboy takes drastic measures against his tormenter, summoning an ancient being in the woods using a spellbound book passed down through the generations of his family.

Directed & Written by Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton

The Jigsaw

Logline: The purchase of a mystery Jigsaw Puzzle from a strange and unsettling vendor leads a man to an evening of frightening consequences.

Directed & Written by Basil and Rashad Al-Safar

The Best Action Short Films 

Paths of Hate 

Logline: A short tale about the demons that slumber deep in the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage.

Directed & Written by Dameon Nenow

Pitch Black Heist

Logline: Liam (Liam Cunningham) and Michael (Michael Fassbender) are professional safe crackers who meet on a simple job to relieve an office safe from its contents. The catch is a light activated ...See full summary »

Directed & Written by John MacLean

Castello Cavalcanti

Logline: Italy, September 1955. A Formula One driver crashes his car during a race, leaving him stuck in a small village but good surprises will come his way.

Directed & Written by Wes Anderson

Logorama

Logline: Police chase an armed criminal in a version of Los Angeles comprised entirely of corporate logos.

Directed by François Alaux & Hervé de Crécy & Ludovic Houplain

Written by François Alaux...(screenplay) & Hervé de Crécy...(screenplay) & Ludovic Houplain...(screenplay) Gregory J. Pruss...(dialogue)

The Big Break

Logline: A struggling actor and director finally crack under the pressures of navigating the entertainment business.

Directed & Written by Gil Freston

Agent 327: Operation Barbershop

Logline: Agent 327 is investigating a clue that leads him to a shady barbershop in Amsterdam. Little does he know that he is being tailed by mercenary Boris Kloris.

Directed by  Hjalti Hjalmarsson (co-director), Colin Levy (co-director)

Written by Martin Lodewijk (based on comics by)

God Forgives, We Don't 

Logline: A short war movie. 

Directed by Kristof Brandl

Written by Shane Patrick

What did we learn from the best short films ever? 

I hope you were able to take a ton of inspiration away from this post and list. All these films are worth checking out, and as I mentioned above, please let me know about some other ones you love. I'd love to grow this list to the 100 best short films on YouTube. 

Feel free to post links to your own work - I can't wait to see how our community works together to produce more amazing short films! 

What's next? Learn how to write short films! 

Chances are you’re reading No Film School because you’re not only obsessed with Hollywood, but you want to be a part of it. But breaking in is never easy. That’s why I think writing short films and even making them yourself, has become a viable option for breaking into the business.

Click the link for more!      

Your Comment

6 Comments

If you like a like John Hughes 80's style romance short film - check out Love Hurts (also shot & edited in 48 hours): https://youtu.be/U8ZwrwGySeA

July 18, 2019 at 7:02PM

3
Reply
Billy Boyd
Director of Plutocracy
35

Good list, some suggestions:
Rejected by the great Don Hertzfeldt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7JyjZI3LUM
My House Walk-through is my favourite horror short - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWXnt2Z2D1E
The classic La Jetee - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLfXCkFQtXw
Maya Deren's Meshes Of The Afternoon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRLJaueDWFI
The Eagleman Stag - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMFVySyTby4
This House Has People In It - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-pj8OtyO2I

July 21, 2019 at 12:28PM

4
Reply
avatar
Anthony Carpendale
Filmmaker
93

Because I don't have enough points, I cannot post the links. But please, search for those great short films:

Denis (short film at YouTube)

M is for Mess (on Vimeo directed by Carlos Faria)

Baby Trap: on (YouTube directed by Carlos Faria

July 21, 2019 at 6:03PM

2
Reply
avatar
Carlos Faria
Writer, Director
16

nice

July 23, 2019 at 4:48AM

2
Reply

Was it just me or was the description for the first one "About a gril" really off?

I got a huge shock at the end. Suppose thats good though but I just wonder twhy the writer got it wrong?

July 23, 2019 at 8:48AM

1
Reply

I agreed, the login given for "About a girl" is way off.
(spoiler alert)
It's about a teenage girl trying to act normal after she's just had an abortion.
Not exactly "... and discovers what fun life and love can really be!"

July 27, 2019 at 4:29PM

0
Reply
david joyner
screenwriter
98