The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action & Animated

Oscar Shorts 2013 photo starrating-4stars.jpgShort films have been a part of the Oscars since 1931. Until recently, getting to actually see all of the live action, animated, and documentary shorts categories was a challenge for the average viewer. Now it’s possible to see them in theaters on a big screen throughout the U.S. This is the 3rd year in a row that I’ve had the opportunity to see The Oscar Nominated Short Films in this manner. The following represents the 5 shorts nominated in each category in alphabetical order for the Live Action and Animated portions. (The Documentary portion, presented in separate program, was unavailable at my theater.)

  • Live Action

South Africa/USA/18min/Director: Bryan Buckley
An all-Somali, refugee cast star in this story concerning a boy torn between the dishonorable life as a pirate and a respectable living as a fisherman. Touching and sweet this is a warm tale that has a tender ending despite the oppressive environment that surrounds our young protagonist.

Buzkashi Boys
Afghanistan/USA/28mins/Director: Sam French
Tale of two boys shot on location of Kabul set against the backdrop of the national sport of Buzkashi a brutal variation of polo played with a dead goat. It’s a superficial rumination on childhood that left me cold. The weakest of the bunch.

USA/19min/Director: Shawn Christensen
Suicidal Richie gets a call from his estranged sister asking him to look after his nine-year old niece Sophia, for the evening. They cram a lot of story in a brisk 19 minutes and the surprisingly emotionally involving tale had me wanting more. Young actress Fátima Ptacek dances in a bowling alley. I was charmed. My pick for the win. I loved it.

Death of a Shadow
Belgium/France/20mim/Director: Tom Van Avermaet
A mysterious collector has imprisoned the shadow of a solider (Rust and Bone’s Matthias Schoenaerts) from World War I. However, he has a second chance at romance with the woman he fell in love with before he died. Interesting premise blending science fiction has promise. Somewhat clichéd ending clouds this overall winning tale.

Canada/21min/Director: Yan England
French-language Canadian picture about what happens to an elderly concert pianist when the wife he deeply loves, disappears mysteriously. Not hard to guess what happened to her within the first 5 minutes. Preachy and predictable – begging to win the award.

  • Animated

Adam and Dog
USA/16min/Director: Minkyu Lee
Hypnotic fable of a dog and the very first man. The story follows their interatction, bond and the introduction of a 3rd party. Quietly beautiful, it‘s almost Zen-like. 2012 Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject

Fresh Guacamole
USA/2min /Director: PES (Adam Pesapane)
Various objects like grenades are turned into guacamole using stop motion animation. I hear this is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Agreeable, but very slight. Nothing special.

Head Over Heels
UK/10min/Director: Timothy Reckart
A married couple has drifted apart.  These crude stop motion puppets putter around a very bizarre home.  Case in point: Walter lives on the floor, Madge lives on the ceiling. Their wordless interplay is curious but largely uninvolving.

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
USA/5min/Director: David Silverman
Maggie and Baby Gerald, go toe to toe over a cocoon at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center. This amusing tale without speaking is refreshingly simple, but not simplistic. Light and uplifting tale has a point. It’s a humorous delight.

USA/7min/Director: John Kahrs
Cheerfully old fashioned tale regarding a lonely man in 1950s Manhattan who take s a shine to a lovely woman he meets on the way to work. They become separated and their brief encounter seems lost until he spies her in the high-rise across the street from his own office building. His efforts to get her attention will enchant and entertain. This black & white short was originally shown before the animated feature Wreck-It Ralph in theaters. It’s arguably the most mainstream, but it’s my favorite of the 5 nominees.

17 Responses to “The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action & Animated”

  1. As a diehard Simpsons fan, I have to root for “The Longest Daycare,” though I’d say Paperman is the best.


  2. Yes Curfew and Paperman are my faves too. But I’m secretly pulling for Maggie Simpson.


  3. Kathleen Armstrong Says:

    This was first year I saw these shorts package together. Great idea. Live action shorts – I’m guessing it depends on one’s age or situation which one likes best. Curfew was good – weren’t you just rooting for him to pick up that phone again – but it seemed like too pat and ending. My guess is that Asad or Buzkashi Boys will win. I was touched by Buzkashi Boys in spite of it’s brutal ending. It seemed real to me. Animated: I’m so glad you sort of liked Adam and Dog. It’s my favorite. Perhaps I’m influenced by my occupation as religious educator. I was charmed by the lovely way man is portrayed as connecting with his environment. Need more of that recognition today. But Head Over Heels was my 2nd fav. How perfectly it exposed the disconnect between husband and wife. Thanks for your reviews. Always enjoy them.


    • Predicting which shorts will win in these categories is a near impossibility. Any one of the live action shorts could win and I would not be surprised. Regarding the animated films, as I reflect on Adam and Dog, I find it growing on me even more. Despite the addition of a dog, the theological message is not compromised one iota. It’s really a beautiful film whether you’re spiritual, a dog lover or just a lover of classic animation. It’s a worthy fav (although I still lean towards Paperman).

      Thanks for your thoughts. Appreciate your insight.


  4. I’ve seen two of the animated nominees. One is Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, which I saw when it premiered on TV after The Simpsons this Sunday. The other, Paperman, which of course I saw right before Wreck-It Ralph. I’d say I enjoyed Paperman, but as a Simpsons fan, I truly enjoyed The Longest Daycare.

    I assume this is playing in art theaters only, right? None of the shorts are playing near me. 😦


    • I saw it at the Cinemark 20 which is not an art house cinema but yes, for the most part it’s playing at art theaters.

      I agree with you. I love The Simpsons and The Longest Daycare really catered to the fan in me.


  5. My brother actually scored a ticket to check out a presentation of all the shorts at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in LA this week. It was hosted by Jason Schwartzman. He said the shorts were all pretty amazing and it would be hard to pick a winner.


    • Hey Adam!! Your brother’s right. This was a particularly strong crop of nominees this year. I really enjoy the way these are presented because seeing them all on the big screen gives them such an added grandeur.


  6. Markus Robinson Says:

    OK, so I just saw all of these and my picks have to be Paperman and Curfew to win the Oscars.

    BUT, in the animation group, Paperman wasn’t at all my favorite. Adam and Dog was my favorite animated short by far! First of all, it looks like an old Disney film, and one top of that, the story is the only animated short of which I was moved by.

    In terms of live action shorts, this is probably the strongest group I’ve seen in years! The only one I didn’t care for was Death of a Shadow, which I though was very mediocre.

    I can’t believe you didn’t like Buzkashi Boys, which may win the Oscar. It was touching and poignant and quite moving. I also felt the same way about Asad. BUT, I have to agree with you about Curfew. In fact, this short is one of the best things I’ve seen all year. And the bowling alley scene was priceless!


    • I liked Man and Dog too, so I can understand the choice. But Buzkashi Boys? It was sleep inducing. I would very surprised if that won. What am I talking about? This is one of those unpredictable categories. It’s wide open!


  7. Great reviews. Didn’t see the live-action ones, but loved the animated. Head Over Heels and Paperman were my favorites.


  8. Wordschat Says:

    Was a busy movie weekend with Jack the Giant Slayer then both the Animated and Live Action shorts back to back on Sunday. In Live action these films felt awfully long and preachy. Still Curfew felt most developed and be the blueprint for a feature length. Likeable and well acted. For animation I liked all but Adam & Dog which didn’t work at all for me. Paper man the eventual winner was my fav.


    • Yes Curfew could be a feature. It would take talent, but I think even Asad and Death of a Shadow have potential as well. I’m curious what you didn’t like about Adam and Dog. I actually think if Paperman hadn’t won, that would have taken the award.


      • Wordschat Says:

        It took awhile to get that it was an Adam and Eve idea tilll she showed up. Did the animated genitals clue me in… nope I didn’t buy a dog. A wolf yes that could do him damage but not domesticating them that early. So hate to diss the hard work but it didnt click. Sorry. Check a shameless plug in a new post on my site for you.


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