"The 2015 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animated, Live Action, and Documentary"
Release Date: Jan. 30, 2015
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: Animated, 82 minutes; Live Action, 118 minutes, Documentary Program A, 81 minutes; Documentary Program B, 79 minutes.
Ten years ago, you could count on one hand the number of people outside of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who had seen all the films competing for an Oscar in the shorts categories of Best Animation, Live Action, and Documentary. Then ShortsTV came along, bundled all the Oscar nominees into packages, and began showing them in theaters. ShortsTV gives us an opportunity to catch some must-see shorts in the theater may not have played at one of Austin's many film festival. Plus, you walked away with insider knowledge when it comes to your Oscar pool. How many other pool participants can name the leading contender in each category? Or, for that matter, name a single nominated short that wasn't made by Pixar of Disney? Speaking of Disney, the Mouse House is in the running for Best Animated Short with Feast, which played before Big Hero 6. It's a swift but sweet chronicle of a dog's relationship with his master—and then his master's girlfriend. The endearing A Single Life also offers a lightning fast look at what the future holds for a lonely woman who yearns for a family. We get a fascinating glimpse of various stages in her life with each skip of the .45 that’s slipped under her front door for her listening pleasure. Me and My Moulton eloquently articulates the awkwardness and frustration a teenage girl feels as a result of her parents’ “outside the box” lifestyle. Ultimately, this is a rallying cry to embrace and celebrate our differences. The same applies to The Dam Keeper, which offers a poignant look at the problems school playground politics creates. The insightful The Bigger Picture tackles death—and our reaction to it—through the passing of an elderly woman. Grieve also fuels The Phone Call, one of the highlights of the Live-Action Oscar Nominated Short Films package. Sally Hawkins offers a touching study in empathy as a hotline phone operator trying to talk (an unseen) Jim Broadbent’s widower out of killing himself. An act of compassion informs the culture-clash drama Parvaneh, which artfully tackles the short-term problems refugees often face through the relationship that develops between an Afghan immigrant and a Swiss punk. Set in 1970s Belfast during the Troubles, Boogaloo and Graham offers an unexpectedly humorous test of a father’s unconditional love for his two children. Shot in several single takes and from the perspective of a camera viewfinder, Butter Lamp astutely contrasts the world Tibetan nomads know to the one that lie beyond their borders. The only disappointment of the 2015 Live-Action Oscar Nominated Short Films package is Aya, a dreary car-confined two-way conversation piece that finds an Israeli woman seeking the comfort of a stranger. Despite HBO’s Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 not being available for review, there’s no denying that the two 2015 Documentary Oscar Nominated Short Films packages possess the hardest emotional punch. Told through the eyes of several children, the unvarnished White Earth offers an Overnighters-ish portrait of a small Northern Plains town that has become a destination for unemployed laborers seeking to work in it oil fields. Filled with disturbing imagery, The Reaper pulsates with regret as a Nicaraguan slaughterhouse worker recalls his 25 years on the job while offering a stomach-churning tour of his workplace. There are no easy outs in the painful Joanna, which details the touching relationship between a parent dying from an untreatable illness and the young son who loves her dearly. It just as hard to watch as Our Curse. Tired and barely able to function, Polish filmmaker Tomasz Śliwiński and his photographer wife Magda Hueckel bare their souls to the camera as they ponder the fate of their newborn child, who cannot breath while sleeping without the assistance of mechanical ventilation because of a rare respiratory disorder. Our concern for their son Leo immediately becomes our concern. Who knows what the future holds for Leo, but Our Curse leaves us comfortable in the knowledge that his parents will do anything they can to need his needs. If you are a parent, and you don’t shed any tears during Our Curse and Joanna, you are a heartless fiend.
Aired: Jan. 29, 2015
Web site: http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/