Oscar-nominated short films for 2014

Posted by barb on Mar 2, 2014 in Movies |

For the past several years, Andrew and I have been going to see the Oscar(tm)-nominated short films at our local theater (well, it’s not exactly local anymore, since we moved to the other side of the Beltway…). So, this year, when the program showed up at Cinema Arts Theatre, we made a plan to trek over to Fairfax for the day and catch both the animated and live-action programs.

Here’s my take on this year’s crop.

Spoiler Alert I’m probably going to give away some of the plots/turning points in these shorts, so go see the films first, before reading!

Animated shorts

Get a Horse [Clip]

This was a Disney short, and starts out in the old black and white, small screen format. Suddenly, a couple characters break through the screen and find themselves in 3D color. The film continues with the characters popping into and out of the screen – into 3D color then back to flat, black and white.

It felt like this concept had been done before, many times. In fact, it seemed vaguely like Day and Night from Disney Pixar, which was nominated in 2010.

If this one wins, it will be because of the sentimentality of the old-style Mickey Mouse.

Mr. Hublot [Trailers]

Mr. Hublot is an OCD single man living in a steampunk-inspired future with tons of retro-looking automation. One day, he sees an abandoned robot-dog, and he can’t get this little guy out of his mind.

This one was my favorite. Though the story was predictable, with the ending set up fairly obviously in the opening shots, the story was uplifting…and the puppy was cute. And the animation style was straight-forward and fun to look at.

Feral [Trailer]

This one was about a feral child picked up in the woods. While there was a story present, the main driver of this piece is the watercolor-style animation.

Personally, I find this type of animation hard to look at, but I can appreciate the beauty that others must find in it. This one may win, just because the style sets it apart from the others and makes it seem more “arty”, which often attracts the Oscar voters.

Possessions [IMDB]

Bizarre story based on the old Japanese idea that if possessions are old enough, they begin to possess a soul that can taunt people. A “fixer of all things” is caught in the woods during a storm and stumbles into an old house. All night the objects in the house taunt him int fixing them.

Room on the Broom [Trailer]

Going in to today’s movies, we were both hoping there wouldn’t be yet another Gruffalo short…well there wasn’t, but Room on the Broom was from the same team and author. It is based on a children’s book, so the film was cute, as were the Gruffalo shorts, but not terribly substantive or interesting beyond the cuteness.

My prediction is that Feral will win, because of the animation style more than anything. We’ll see tonight!

Live-action shorts

Helium [Trailer]

The live-action program started with this, a sentimental piece about a hospital janitor trying to comfort a dying child with tales of the world of Helium, a more-fun alternative to Heaven. It was cute and sad and sentimental – everything that we come to expect from the live-action shorts. Sigh. From the moment it started #150; in a hospital with a sick child – we knew exactly where it would end.

The Voorman Problem [Trailer]

What do you do when a prisoner proclaims to be a god? And, when that prisoner convinces the entire prison population that he’s a god? Send in a psychologist of course. This short shows us what happens next.

One of few comedies that we’ve seen in all the live-action shorts we’ve seen over the years, this one was fun and extremely well-done with just a few short scenes.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) [Trailer]

This short captures the day a woman’s decides to take her kids and leave her abusive husband. I found myself drawn in almost immediately, and continued to be engaged throughout the entire piece. The danger for this woman felt very real, and the urgency carried through every moment of the piece.

This one could win tonight, and I would heartily support that win.

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) [Trailer]

Set in Africa, this piece follows a pair of Spanish aid workers who are kidnapped by a group of child soldiers. The acting was not great – perhaps because the actors were working in English, which was clearly not their first language. However, even if the acting was great, I would have been disengaged from the beginning. I know that child soldiers are a real problem in parts of the world, and I do know that their plight needs to be brought out to the public…it just seems that there are other ways to do it. Or maybe not. I know it’s complicated.

If this one wins tonight, it will be due to the subject matter, not the film itself.

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) [Trailer]

A very short (7 minute) comedy about a family late getting ready to attend a wedding. So many unexpected moments, and I may have laughed out loud. I doubt it will win, but this was my favorite.

I’m guessing that either That Wasn’t Me or Just Before Losing Everything will win tonight. It’s so hard for comedies to win these awards, though those were probably my favorite in this program.

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