2012 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films

2012 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts – The past few years a company called Shorts HD (formerly Shorts International) has been released the Academy Award Nominated Short Films. There are three categories: Live Action, Animation, and Documentary (which was unfortunately screened only one night in Sacramento so I missed it). These are the Live Action nominees. Overall, in the past couples years I’ve noticed the divide seems to be three depressing nominees and two overtly comic ones. This year there is only one depressing one, one overtly comic one, and three more which manage to blend comedy and drama for a satisfactory short film experience. It makes me realize just how much you can do in a short time.

Pentecost (2011, Ireland, directed by Peter McDonald) – While I tend to be more agnostically-leaning these days, I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church so I tend to always laugh at the “inside jokes” in movies that depict Catholicism. Pentecost is about an altar boy (Scott Graham) who was responsible for an incense-swinging accident once and is being given a second chance when the archbishop visits to say mass. If he screws up again, he will be forbidden from watching football (soccer), one of his primary loves in life. The very sports-like pep talk a priest gives the altar boys before mass was hilarious. The movie was funny, but nothing overly special. Like I said, it’s funnier if you are (or were) Catholic.

Raju (2011, Germany/India, directed by Max Zähle) – This is the depressing one of the bunch. It is about a German couple (Wotan Wilke Möhring & Julia Richter) who go to India to adopt a child, the titular Raju (Krish Gupta). They’re a loving couple with a lot to offer a disadvantaged child, but as indicated by my earlier “depressing” warning, everything does not go according to plan. The film raises a lot of questions about class and culture. In way it reminded me of the Dennis Lehane novel (and Ben Affleck film) Gone Baby Gone, albeit set on the other side of the world and with a different set of circumstances but with very similar question about what is best for a child. The movie ends on what could be considered an ambiguous note.

The Shore (2011, Northern Ireland, directed by Terry George) – This is my favorite of the bunch and therefore the film I will be rooting for to win Sunday after next. It is about two men from Belfast. One is Paddy (Conleth Hill), who is happily married to Mary (Maggie Cronan) but impoverished and disabled (he has an artificial arm). He is on unemployment but supplements his income illegally by collecting mussels from the shore to sell to restaurants. The other is Joe (Ciarán Hinds), who has been living in San Francisco the past couple decades and is returning to Belfast now with his adult American daughter Patricia (Kerry Condon) in tow. There is sadness and humor in this short and as I mentioned earlier it is my favorite by far.

Time Freak (2011, United States, directed by Andrew Bowler) – This is the overt comedy of the bunch and it is fucking hilarious. Evan (John Connor Brooke) is visiting his roommate Stillman (Michael Nathanson), who has been missing the past couple days. It turns out Stillman has invented a time machine. It sends you back in time but in your own body. So if you go back in time 20 minutes, you would appear in the same place you were 20 minutes ago, but with all your memories of the next 20 minutes. No duplicates, no paradoxes. Stillman can now correct any little mistake he has made in the past. He can go any time he wants, if only he could get past yesterday… Much hilarity ensues. [Time travel question irrelevant to the quality of the film: Stillman mentions his desire to visit Ancient Rome (though he never actually does; that’s kind of the point of the movie) but if the machine sends you back to where you were at that time, what would happen if you went back to before you were born? Good thing he got sidetracked or he could have zapped himself out of existence.]

Tuba Atlantic (2010, Norway, directed by Hallvar Witzø) – Like The Shore, this one walks the funny/sad line very well. Edvard Hægstad plays Oskar, an old man who finds out he is dying. Not only dying but with six days to live. He retreats to his home and does the one thing that seems to bring him joy: killing seagulls in hilarious ways (no seagulls were harmed in the making of this film). A plucky teenage girl named Inger (the absolutely adorable Ingrid Viken) from a local Christen youth group comes by to help make Oskar’s last few days. Naturally the curmudgeonly Oskar is not receptive to her sunny demeanor and cheerful explanations of the five stages of death (she has a checklist). As always in films of this type though, a bond is formed. Oskar does have a grander plan for his final days and it really is something best left unspoiled.

These films are still in selected art theaters around the country. CHECK THEM OUT. All five films in this category are worth seeing so for the love of God, see them. I don’t know where exactly you find short films the rest of the year so seize the chance while you can. I’m not really sure how to predict the winner in this category. The Academy Awards have always been just as much politics as actual quality (Crash over Brokeback Mountain? What the fuck?!?!?) and I’m not really familiar with the politics of the short film categories. The past couple years quirky comedies like The New Tenants and God of Love have won, so I guess that bodes well for Time Freak. Like I said, The Shore is my favorite and I’ll be pulling for that one.

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  1. […] Best Live Action Short: The Shore – (see my article on the category) […]

  2. […] Sources: IMDB, 411mania, Opinionless, Paste Magazine, Smells Like Screen Spirit, The Independent Critic,  Persistence of Vision […]



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