Ranked: 2016 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films
Feb 25, 2016
The 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will happen on Sunday, February 28th. This week we've taken a look at this year's short film competitions. The Academy defines a short film as an original motion picture running 40 minutes or less, and excludes all advertisments, unaired or unsold television episodes, or credit sequences from feature-length films. Our critic, Shawn Hazelett, watched and ranked all of this year's Oscar-nominated shorts. In this first installment, he'll look at this year's live action category.
Dirs. Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
A smart, handsome man lives a life of solitude in London. His issue—a debilitating stutter that sabotages the most innocuous social interactions. This despite a hidden charisma, evidenced by a witty internal monologue and online banter. The latter of which has earned him an out-of-town crush only familiar with his online identity. She’s traveling to London and asks if he wants to meet in-person. Of course he does, but at the stake of his pride? Stutterer effectively dramatizes the crippling cycle of insecurity and comfort zones while striking the right balance of sternness and sympathy.
Dir. Patrick Vollrath
Everything Will Be Okay
A man goes to his ex wife’s house to pick up his daughter. He says they’re going to the fair, which they do in the midst of a series of random actions--including selling his car to taking her passport-sized photo—that eventually point to his ultimate intentions: to flee the country with his daughter. Naturally, this constitutes kidnapping, and while the story elements feel calculated and maniacal, Everything Will Be Okay explores the counter perspective of a non-criminal resorting to reprehensible acts out of love.
Dir. Jamie Donoughue
Kosovo, 1998. An innocent friendship takes on a different tone with the backdrop of war. Conflicting interests and short tempers give a heightened context to actions usually under the umbrellas of childhood friendships threatening the safety of two friends and their families, who attempt to maintain normalcy through the randomness of the conflict. Such meaty subject matter in short form often equates to melodrama, but Shok works by mostly keeping the overarching conflict peripheral to the story, grounding itself within the episodic nature of childhood.
Dirs. Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
Five nuns living in the West Bank are in the midst of a vow of silence. However, their lives of solitude are interrupted by a group of noisy Israelis whose car breaks down outside the convent. Unable to use their voices to help the stranded Israelis, both parties try and fail to bridge the cultural gaps, providing some much-needed levity to the category.
Dir. Henry Hughes
On her first mission in Afghanistan, an Afghan-American translator accompanies a squad to the house of a bomb-maker. Upon arriving, however, they discover the suspect’s wife is going into labor. Because they’re miles from a doctor and must adhere to the birthing laws of Islam, she is forced to deliver the child, despite language barriers and her own discomfort. Day One explores ideas of personal boundaries and cultural gaps, but feels a bit rushed, never quite managing the heavy lifting required within the parameters.