Loom tells the story of a successful catch. This student film of 2010 won Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project at the VES Awards. The people who contributed to this short are doing amazing work today.
Student Academy Award winner (Bronze) in the animation category for 2011 went to two students from Ringling. These guys managed to pull off a very European style of animation and look. The ending result = awesome.
Along those lines, in 2007, came an extraordinary short film from the legendary Gobelins L'Ecole de L'Image or Goblins School of the Image (in France). "Oktapodi" was nominated for an Academy Award for best short film in 2009. European style animation is simply amazing!
And still one of my favorites, and of course a great inspirational piece: