In honor of the Academy Awards, ShortsHD has once again made all three (animated, live action, documentary) of the the Oscar Nominated Short Film programs available to audiences around the world.
Along with the animated program, the live action collection was released to theaters on January 29th, a month before the Oscars presentation on February 28th.
In addition to the theatrical schedule, the nominated live action and animated shorts will also be accessible online and on VOD/pay-per-view platforms.
Where the animated segment encompasses the gamut of emotion – joy to sorrow, the live action segment is much more mired in misery. This category is arguably the hardest of all the Oscar categories to call. None of the shorts star famous people, as in previous years’ winners like The Phone Call (Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent) or The Shore (Ciarán Hinds). This makes forecasting the winner even more difficult.
I’ve ranked the shorts in order of best to worst in terms of my own personal taste. However I’ll attempt to predict the prizewinner too.
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Director, Writer & Producer: Patrick Vollrath
The uncharacteristically upbeat title belies a heartbreaking tale. A divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter, Lea, for a day of fun. They spend every second weekend together, but after awhile she senses a change in the mood that signifies this outing is different.
I love films where the audience slowly develops an understanding of the situation. The story just pulls you in. It’s rather simple in scope, but it extracts emotion even better than a production that is four times as long. My absolute favorite of the bunch, which means it has absolutely zero chance of winning. (10/10)
Director: Benjamin Cleary
Greenwood (Matthew Needham) is a shy typographer with a severe speech impediment but a passionate spirit. His internet relationship with a woman named Ellie (Chloe Pirrie) has progressed nicely. After six months of online chatting, she is ready to meet face to face, but he is loath to reveal the truth about himself. He worries whether she will lose interest.
Irish director Benjamin Cleary recounts a succinct and well crafted fable about self doubt. Who can’t identify on some level with that dilemma? Scores extra points for taking the least amount of time to tell a sweet story. Ends on a clever note that makes everything worthwhile. A real charmer. (9/10)
Director: Henry Hughes
American woman who has joined the United States military as an interpreter is on her first mission in Afghanistan. However she’ll be asked to do a lot more than just translate before the day is over.
Director Henry Hughes spent five years as a paratrooper conducting two combat tours in Afghanistan. This film was based on an experience with his own female interpreter. The way gender and religion must dictate behavior in Muslim culture, is addressed. The first hand approach is uniquely told from an insider’s perspective. (7/10)
Director & Writer: Jamie Donoughue
The place is war torn Kosovo in 1998. The friendship of two children, Petrit and Oki, is tested when one enters into a dangerous business relationship with enemy Serbian soldiers who now occupy the territory.
Every year it seems there is at least one entry where war and children are united in a depressing narrative. Shok satisfies that niche which is why I’m predicting it will take the award. The drama is competent, but predictably dismal up to and including the extreme “shock” ending. (6/10)
Director: Basil Khalil
A family of religious Israeli settlers has their car break down in a rural area of the West Bank. They seek the assistance of five nuns in a convent in the middle of the Palestinian territories. The nuns have taken a vow of silence. The Jewish family are forbidden to even use a phone on the sabbath. Culture clash comedy mines humor out of their difficulty to communicate.
Not bad, but it’s essentially a one-note joke built around a convoluted setup. My least favorite which makes it ironic that most prognosticators have selected as the odds on favorite to win. It’s a bit more lighthearted in tone which I suppose makes it stand apart from the more intense stories. (6/10)