Over the weekend I watched all of this year’s Oscar-nominated short films in the live action, animated and documentary categories. Well, actually, I watched almost all of them as there was one documentary short I had zero interest in watching beyond its opening credits. More on that in a second, but let’s begin with the live action short films.
And remember, these are predictions, not a ranking of my favorites, though I will be giving an opinionated take on each of the films.
Of the three categories I’d say the live action lot had the largest selection of films I actually enjoyed. Of the bunch, only The Phone Call rubbed me the wrong way. It really doesn’t accomplish much other than hammer home the melancholy as Sally Hawkins plays a crisis hotline worker who receives a call from a man (Jim Broadbent) that has just taken a bunch of pills and just needs someone to talk to in the final moments of his life. It attempts to end on an “up” note, but sorry, no thanks.
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) is perhaps the most interesting as it is told entirely through the lens of a photographer’s camera as he situates his subjects, most of them families, in an effort to take their picture against ever-changing backdrops. It’s a cute idea, inventive, but most likely not your winner.
Boogaloo and Graham is the most accessible as it tells the story of two little Irish boys whose father gives them each a baby chick to care for, but as the chickens grow up and the family dynamic begins to change the future of Boogaloo and Graham may be in question. While good, this is way too much of a soft lob to take the top prize at the Oscars. A little more sadness and a little more drama is most often needed.
Aya is a possible contender for the win centering on the title character (Sarah Adler) who ends up standing in for a driver at an airport as he runs off to take care of his car, but when his client shows up, instead of explaining the situation she decides she’ll just take him (Ulrich Thomsen) where he needs to go. This is a very intimate, simple film with great performances and a wonderful little ending. I wouldn’t mind seeing it win, but I have a feeling it will be…
Parvaneh is your likely winner, a story centering on a young Afghan girl (Nissa Kashani) whose efforts to send money home to her ailing father proves a challenge after arriving at a transit centre for asylum seekers in the Swiss Alps. She eventually befriends a young Swiss girl (Cheryl Graf) who helps her on her way. Well acted and hits all the right notes for a short film to take home the award.