Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts
Sorry I didn't get to this last week Scott, but I didn't make the show. Finally got back to it last night. The show was pretty good, this is my first one attending and I would say my biggest surprise was that there was only one American film on this list. I will take you through the all of the films, but just as a precaution, there will be spoilers. One thing I will say is that I was pleased to have a good crop of films that had a range of emotions. I'm sick of watching "the best" films about somebody dying of this or that or the dark tale of life on the streets, etc.
This film focused on a boy growing up in a Catholic family, his beloved soccer-watching privileges are revoked but he can salvage them if he does well as an altar boy with the incense at the next Mass. What really sells the film is a terrific scene just before Mass where a deacon talks to the altar boys (sitting on a bench) like a coach does his team before the big game. In the end the kid is just about to be free and clear as he does well and is walking back down the aisle, but (I suppose) because he doesn't want this as his lot in life, he sets down the incense and kicks it like a soccer ball.
The "locker room" scene was great and a few other comedic moments, and it is shot well in my opinion. But we don't really get to follow this kid's logic at the end and it feels abrupt and out of character, if soccer really meant that much to him he would deal with it. Also comedies don't do well with voters unless there is something really enduring and heartfelt, and that is not the case here.
Raju is the film to beat. It follows a German couple that goes to India and adopts a boy, but the kid disappears and while looking for the kid, they find that their orphanage kidnaps kids and sells them to foreigners, so once the kids reappears there is an argument between the parents about the fact that this kid HAS parents and should they return the kid. In the end, the dad defies his wife and leaves early in the morning with the kid to go find his parents.
This was easily the most polished film in the bunch. It had the best pacing, best production and great acting. Most importantly though, it was a story about a disadvantaged minority youth in an underprivileged are, and that is something that rich, white voters of the Academy eat up like candy! There are a few, "yea right," or "why don't you just do this?" moments but ultimately the film is a real ride with several twists. My only other comment is that the film just kind-of ends. Like "The Social Network" the credits starting rolling and I was like, "Where is the rest of the movie?"
The Shore (UK)
The Shore is basically about this American guy who takes his daughter back to his native Ireland and tells her the sad tale of when he left. He had broken off his engagement and severed ties with this best friend (who end up getting married). His daughter convinces him to apologize and the go find the couple, and all is well in love and war.
Aside from making me want to go to Ireland, this film could have been great. It told the stories of the two people independently and then we got to watch them come together. There was also a great balance of comedy and drama. Unfortunately the pacing was horrible, the film started off with a five minute joke that had nothing to do with the film or the main characters, and the resolution seemed a bit odd. Could have been great, but too many missed opportunities.
Time Freak (US)
A guy builds a time machine, but never gets around to visiting ancient Rome as he intended. Instead he is so OCD that he just keeps going to yesterday to make it the perfect day.
It was fun. I've done a lot of those 48 Hour Film Festivals and this seemed like a glorified version of one of those. I give them props for making it fun, but everyone in the audience was thinking, "Did you guys not see Groundhogs Day?" Not really any significant story arcs or character change or deep statements, I don't think they have a shot.
Tuba Atlantic (Norway)
An aging hermit who lives on an isolated house by the sea finds out he has six days to live. A teenage girl stops by his house from some religious organization and it appears she gets some sort of spiritual merit badge for helping someone through the end of their life. So, obviously, they don't get along but they form an unlikely friendship between her misguided, yet relentless enthusiasm to help and his grumpy outside, yet soft insides. We learn of his soured relationship with his brother who now lives in New Jersey who helped him hypothesis about a giant tuba machine that could be loud enough to make it to America. He never calls his brother but him in the girl manage to make the machine work and on his deathbed he hears on the radio that his brother heard the tuba.
This one is the dark horse for the win. If we learned one thing from last year's short winner, it's that a comedy can win if it is very enduring and heart felt, which is the case here. Unfortunately it takes a while to get into the film, they don't do justice to the girl's arc (in my opinion) and it is a story that seems very familiar. It also closed the show, and I don't know how many voters see the films this way, but it leaves a good taste as you leave the theater.
I would look for Raju to win, but look out for Tuba Atlantic to be the surprise. All in all, I was glad to laugh a little and actually be entertained by Academy Award Nominated films. With The Artist as the front runner this year, it is great to see some films get attention that are not only fantastic films, but are also very entertaining.
Thanks for the write-up, Jeff! Based on what you wrote, and watching the trailers, I'm probably going to go with Raju as well. Seems like the right tone for the Academy as you said.
There was a time machine film...? That's kind of awesome! There was a zombie in the animated short A Morning Stroll. Maybe the Oscars are catering to nerdier things than I previously thought...
Now if only someone here saw the Documentary Shorts. Then our Oscar pools would have ultimate edge!
[Scott Roberts] "Now if only someone here saw the Documentary Shorts."
I haven't seen the short docs, but I would put my money on Saving Face. I did a bit of looking around on them and The Tsunami & The Cherry Blossom could be a surprise, but I'm definitely going with Saving Face.
Now I just need to decided on Dragon Tattoo or Hugo for Sound, Clooney vs Dujardin for acting, and if Midnight in Paris can beat The Artist for screenplay.