Ranked: 2017 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films
Feb 24, 2017
The 89th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will happen on Sunday, February 26th. As in years past, 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. Today, he looks at this year's live action category.
Want to judge for yourself? Click here to find a list of theaters and showtimes for this year's Oscar-nominated shorts.
Directed by Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy
A young girl who’s the new kid in school is also the newest member of an award-winning elementary school choir. Unfortunately, the instructor dislikes her singing voice and directs her to lip sync rather than sing during performances so as not to bring down the group. Her confidence wounded, she hides this from her only friend in fear of alienating her, until both learn their choir’s prestige is beyond tainted. An honest story about friendship in the face of childhood injustice and the integrity of competition not only has universal appeal, but also unexpected wit and clever turns.
Directed by Juanjo Giménez Peña
A male and female security guard who alternate shifts at a parking garage spark up a relationship that’s extremely uncommon: during a shift, one will dance for a security camera and leave the precise time code for the other who, upon their arrival, will watch and then reciprocate. This inventive, spirited short plays like a cartoon in charm, audacity, and mastery of visual storytelling.
Directed by Sélim Aazzazi
When a middle-aged Algerian who has spent nearly all of his life in France finally applies for citizenship, he subjects himself to intense probing by the state which unwittingly puts him in a serious dilemma: he must either provide names of people at a local mosque or be deported. Tense, focused direction and sharp writing explores the complexity of identities and loyalties in the face of a government that would rather bully them into simplicity.
Directed by Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
La Femme et le TGV
An old, single Swiss woman has a strange routine: at a set time each day, she opens her window that overlooks train tracks and waves a flag at the approaching TGV. One day, she finds a letter from her garden, thrown from the train’s conductor, who communicates the joy she brings him. This sparks a pen-pal relationship between the two strangers that is charming, grounded, and filled with close calls and missed chances.
Directed by Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
A Danish woman volunteering at a homeless shelter begins a relationship with a refugee who, unbeknownst to her, has a wife and children in his native Ghana. A solid concept that speaks to the plight of refugees and their difficulties assimilating, the story isn’t a natural fit in short-form narrative. It often feels rushed and cheated with characters acting below their intelligence, building to unsatisfying developments that are devoid of nuance.