{in theatres} The Live-Action Short-Film Oscar Nominees

February 11, 2013 by sarah

Last week I took a break from unpacking to see some of the Oscar-nominated short films with friends. It was a good decision. There’s nothing like seeing great displays of imagination in quick succession to get re-energized! The shorts (animated, live action and documentary) are playing in theatres across the county. See if they’re near you here. (They’ll also be available on iTunes and VOD on February 19.) We’ll start with the live-action films today and move to the animated shorts tomorrow.

Death of a Shadow

© 2012 Serendipity Films, Perspective Films

© 2012 Serendipity Films, Perspective Films

My favorite live action film was Death of a Shadow, an imaginative and engrossing tale written and directed by Tom Van Avermaet. One of the 20-minute film’s chief joys was the way the main character’s mysterious predicament was revealed slowly. Avermaet expertly timed the story’s revelations, so I won’t ruin it by giving them away here. (Don’t worry: You see the contraption above in the first seconds of the film.) Death of a Shadow is a great example of a fantasy/sci-fi setting that enables the film’s theme, rather than distracts from it. In the middle of the film, I found myself wishing that I could live in this steam-punk-y, WWI-era world for more than 20 minutes; I hope Avermaet considers (and finds funding for) a full-length adaptation.

Henry, written and directed by Yan England, is a beautiful film that I barely made it through. SPOILER (although you’ll figure this out pretty quickly): The title character suffers from Alzheimer’s, and the film is told through his point of view. His disease both terrifies him and lets him re-experience the best moments of his past. It was gorgeously done but personally painful to watch because my Grandpa passed away from Alzheimer’s just two weeks ago. The Canadian director has called the film a tribute to his own grandfather, who also succumbed to the disease. I predict this deserving film (its sound editing was especially exquisite) will win the Oscar.

Side note: Someone should create a movie-trigger website that catalogs movie themes, so we can avoid emotional blindsides. I like to go into films with a blank-slate, but if I’m having a rough week because of a particular reason, it’d be nice to be able to check my to-watch list quickly. Right around the time my Grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I ignorantly sat down with The Notebook. Bad idea.

Asad is an ultimately light-hearted film set in world of Somali pirating. Written and directed by Bryan Buckley, the film (and its main character) strives to bring humor and buoyancy to a dark setting, but its ending requires just a little more suspension of disbelief than I’m comfortable with.

Buzkashi Boys, directed by Sam French, is a fine example of international filmmaker cooperation (it was shot on-location in Kabul), but its story needed some editing and a clearer focus. The film’s cinematography was incredible, but I couldn’t tell if the filmmakers viewed the outcome as a tragedy or a triumph..and that’s a problem.

Curfew is written, directed and ably acted by Shawn Christensen. It has some really great moments and nice cinematography, but its tone bounces between a dark comedy, a serious drama and a musical fantasy in a way I found unnerving. Still, worth watching and discussing!

Do you have a favorite short film (from this year or otherwise)?

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About sarah

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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0 thoughts on “{in theatres} The Live-Action Short-Film Oscar Nominees

  1. I’m so excited to see these! And holy cow – a movie-trigger site (or app) would be amazing. I was in the same boat with The Notebook.

    - Ali | Gimme Some Oven