Everybody talks about the Academy Award nominees for feature-length films, but there are other categories that few people discuss — the categories for short films.
For the second year in a row, I’ve watched the five Oscar-nominated live action short films, and this year, I also had the opportunity to see the five Oscar-nominated animated short films, and it is a uniquely rewarding, moving, and exciting experience.
This year’s Oscar-nominated live action short films are: “DeKalb, Elementary,” a chilling film chronicling a school secretary’s standoff with a mentally ill man armed with a gun; “My Nephew Emmett,” about a black man in 1955, trying to protect his nephew from the racists in their community; “The Eleven O’Clock,” an amusing tale of a psychiatrist and his delusional patient who believes he’s a psychiatrist; “The Silent Child,” following a young deaf girl and the woman who teaches her to communicate; and “Wate Wote (All of Us),” the true story of a terrorist attack on a bus in Africa, and the Muslims who protect their fellow Christian passengers.
The Oscar-nominated animated short films are: “Dear Basketball,” an ode to the sport from a retiring player; “Garden Party,” featuring a group of frogs hopping around a garden, with a delightfully surprising ending; “Lou,” a film about a sentient collection of lost items teaching a playground bully a lesson; “Negative Space,” a short, pensive piece about the relationship between father and son; and “Revolting Rhymes,” a fractured fairy tale based on a book by Roald Dahl.
Watching short films is a different, but no less wonderful, experience from watching a feature length-film. These tiny slices of life — ranging from 6 minutes to 29 minutes long — boil an idea down to its most essential components. There’s an intimacy that we rarely get in feature length films. Most of the films follow the perspective of just one character, focused on just one concept, whether it’s love for baseball or humanity in the face of terrorism.
I also love watching the Oscar-nominated short films because they cover such a wide range of perspectives from such a diverse crop of filmmakers. The barriers to entry into the world of short filmmaking are much lower than feature filmmaking, so there is less risk and more experimentation. This is especially apparent in the animated short film category, which features films with several wildly different animation techniques. There are also people who might never get a shot at a Hollywood movie who are able to get their stories out into the world through the medium of short film, and it’s rewarding to see their work and get a glance at the way that they look at the world.
My favorite short films this year were “The Eleven O’Clock,” which is extremely funny, and a welcome break from the more serious subject matter of the other short films, and “Garden Party,” which slowly built to a darkly amusing ending. However, all 10 films are well worth the time it takes to watch them.
They do not play in as many theaters as feature films (ShortsTV has information about the theatrical release of the nominees at https://shorts.tv/theoscar shorts/), but it’s worth the extra work to discover these little gems of film.
Jenny’s Take: See them tonight.
Jenny Kobiela-Mondor writes movie reviews for KPC Media Group. Her columns are posted at kpcnews.com/opinion/columnists. A link to her blog can be found from her columns at kpcnews.com. She blogs at jenandkel poptarts.blogspot.com.