2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 2 of 3)

The 2023 Academy Award-nominated short films have been playing in theaters since February 17. ShortsTV has made the nominees in all three categories (animated, live-action, documentary) available to audiences every year since 2006. Visit the website here to learn more about the participating cinemas and how to purchase tickets. See them before the upcoming Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 12.


This year the live-action short nominees will give viewers a tour of the world. An international selection that doesn’t include the U.S. If one thing unites all of these entries, it’s that human relationships are fraught with tension. The finest of these stories ends on an uplifting note. There may be hope for us after all. The less satisfying ones conclude that people are inherently evil.

I’ve ranked these shorts in order from best to least favorite. There was a wide variation in my enjoyment of the films in this category.

IRELAND / 23 MINS /2022
Directors: Tom Berkeley, Ross White

The double-meaning title is slang for when you duck out of a party without bidding farewell to anyone. Two brothers come together to mourn their recently deceased mother. Elder brother Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) attempts to get affairs in order. He also hopes to find a relative who can look after his younger brother Lorcan (James Martin), who has Down Syndrome. Their parish priest (Paddy Jenkins) informs the duo that their mom had a bucket list. Lorcan convinces his reluctant brother to finish every item to honor her passing.

A warm-hearted Irish saga is a real audience pleaser full of cultural humor. It’s hard not to compare this darkly comedic tale about male bonds in rural Ireland with a certain pessimistic Best Picture contender. The vast difference between the philosophical worldviews of these two pictures couldn’t be more disparate. This wholesome, poignant yarn is the anti-Banshees of Inisherin. My pick for what SHOULD WIN

ITALY, USA/ 37 MINS / 2022
Director: Alice Rohrwacher

“Let them eat cake.” A group of young girls at a Catholic boarding school in Italy yearn for a playful childhood. This is Mussolini-era Fascist Italy, and resources are scarce. “The pupils” are bound by strict moral teaching. One of the girls named Serafina (Melissa Falasconi) appears to be the odd one out. While the sisters seem somewhat lenient, Mother Superior (Alba Rohrwacher) is anything but. A radio in the background broadcasts news of WWII but also music. The girls must wash their mouths with soap after singing the lyrics of “Ba Ba Baciami Piccina,” which means “Kiss me, baby.”

The longest short of the program is set in motion about halfway through when a wealthy woman visits the orphanage. She seeks the orphan girls’ prayers for her philandering husband. To strengthen their resolve, she bakes them a decadent cake she claims has 70 eggs. The dessert becomes the focus of an important decision. This account features a cast of adorable children and celebrates their innocence and anarchic spirit. Although it is advent season which is the period leading up to Christmas, this is not typical holiday fare. The tone is tongue-in-cheek. Produced by Alfonso Cuarón and distributed by Disney+. My pick for what WILL WIN.

NORWAY / 15 MINS / 2020
Director: Eirik Tveiten

On a cold winter night in December, Ebba (Sigrid Kandal Husjord) waits for the tram. While the conductor is on break, she enters the empty train to keep warm. In an attempt to close the door, Ebba pushes random buttons and inadvertently starts the tram. Then a group of various people boards the train. The narrative stars a little person and what develops when a transgender woman is harassed on the bus. Ebba struggles with what to do. The most concise contender begins on a whimsical note of light comedy and morphs awkwardly into a serious drama. That combination has made this the most polarizing of the shorts. It ultimately course corrects into a supportive tale.

Director: Cyrus Neshvad

First comes marriage, then comes love? An Iranian teenager (Nawelle Ewad) has arrived at Luxembourg Airport. Her suitcase is sitting at the carousel. Yet she fears the man (Sarkaw Gorany) waiting beyond the gate. The dialogue is minimal and offers little situational particulars. The lack of details feeds into our apprehension, just the presentation of two strangers and mounting anxiety. She makes the life-changing decision to remove her head covering and leave.

Without question a controversial practice that is a cultural and religious institution for some. This predictably takes the traditional belief that arranged marriages are bad and something to escape. Although in this case, the couple hasn’t met, and we know little about them. This portrait takes the stereotypical point of view and ticks all the boxes for a Western (read U.S.) audience. This complex subject deserves more than a cursory 17-minute condemnation.

DENMARK / 16 MINS / 2022
Director: Anders Walter

In Greenland, a young girl named Pipaluk (Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann) is distraught by the disappearance of her sister Ivalu (Nivi Larsen). Father seems to be less concerned. What is going on? Tragic story highlights gorgeous cinematography of outdoor scenery, and that’s about all to recommend. Stories about suffering children (sexual abuse, suicide, etc.) are so commonplace in this category that the drama requires significant art or innovation to surpass the inherent cliché. The “big reveal” is predictable, given it’s artlessly telegraphed at the beginning. Based on a graphic novel by Illustrator Lars Horneman and author Morten Dürr.


4 Responses to “2023 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Part 2 of 3)”

  1. An Irish Goodbye sounds great. The antithesis of Banshees of I., huh? I will have to investigate where to watch it. Thanks, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a passel of unpleasantness!

    Next year I’m entering “The Red Balloon” without telling anybody where it came from.


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