Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts–a Comprehensive Review

February 23, 2012
Written by: Rocco Passafuime
RoccoPassafuime@thecinemasource.com
Written by: Rocco Passafuime
RoccoPassafuime@thecinemasource.com


So, Friday night I went and saw the short films nominated for Best Live Action Short at the Academy Awards this year. It was…well, it was an interesting experience. Last year, I went to see both the live action ones as well as the animated ones, and it was one of the best experiences of my short life. Truly. It was really quite hard to figure out which would win, although my money was on God of Love, one of the best damn movies I’ve ever seen, which did in fact go on to win the Oscar. It was an inspirational experience.

This year…well, honestly, it was kinda underwhelming, overall. It’s not that the films were bad—actually, on the whole, they were relatively enjoyable—but out of the field of films, there was no real standout, one that just screamed of brilliance and rose above the chaff. I mean, I absolutely know which one is going to win: Time Freak. If it doesn’t, there is no justice in this world. But I’ll go in the order I saw them.

Pentecost: This is a fun little film, but it’s not Oscar material, if only because it lacks any completely fulfilling conclusion. This little 11-minute-r by Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane combines religious satire with football (that’s soccer, for the Americans) references, and does a pretty good job at it. It’s funny, but the ending doesn’t quite make sense. I feel as though it would have, too, had the characters just been slightly more developed, but maybe I just missed the point. I give it a B, maybe a B-. My 3rd favorite of the evening.

Raju: Talk about the downer of the evening. This little German-produced film about a German couple adopting an Indian (actually from India, for you Americans) child, is really damn depressing. Like, it’s just…it’s one of those films where, at the end, the claps were very slow and gradual in starting up. People were just shocked by the overly dark vision filmmakers Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren present, and regardless of whether it’s an accurate depiction of that culture, it’s something the Academy doesn’t like to think about. I give it a B-, tied for last place in enjoyability.

The Shore: Tied for my least favorite of the night, this 30-minute behemoth by Terry George (of Hotel Rwanda fame) is, if you hadn’t figured it out, too damn long. It’s just not a new enough or original enough story to hold interest for a full half-hour. It’s a little love triangle that sort of gets resolved in an annoying way, the acting is all over the map, and it’s just nowhere near as fulfilling as I had hoped. It doesn’t know what it wants to be, really, a comedy, a love story, a story about friendship, or what have you, and so it sort of wallows. I give it a C, C+ at best.

Time Freak: Oh lordy, this film. So good. The only American film nominated in this category, this brilliant little comedy by Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey is a great tale about the dangers of time travel. This might seem like a rather hackneyed storyline, but the duo makes it fresh, fascinating, and downright hilarious, with an ending that had me dying with laughter. It’s cute and has just the right sensibility for the Academy, making it my front-runner, and also my personal most enjoyable film of the evening. A solid A—it’s not perfect, but damn, is it good.

Tuba Atlantic: This barely came in second on my list, and in a lot of ways, I kind of wish it would win, if only because I really appreciate dark humor. A Norwegian film that definitely leads the viewer to think this will be a depressing little film about a man who has six days to live, Hallvar Witzø‘s movie takes a turn for the morbidly comedic when terminal patient Oskar decides to spend most of his remaining time on Earth killing seagulls in various different ways. I’m not kidding. It’s hilarious, and ends up being pretty heartwarming. Very enjoyable. A good, solid A-.

So there were some good, and some not-so-good. I just remember that last year, there were three or four that just took everyone’s breath away. I kind of wish that this year’s selection had been more on that level. That being said, I highly recommend everyone see the selection of films, rather than arbitrarily choose one for their Oscar pools, if only because I love the Harlan Ellison quote that goes, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” See the movies.

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"I am Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" -Percy Bysshe Shelley

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