Oscar nominated shorts for 2015

“‘Prologue’ seems to exist for no other reason than to show off the drawing talent and enthusiasm for over-the-top gore of its creator.”

World_of_Tomorrow_(film)_POSTEREvery year, I try to watch at least one set of Oscar-nominated shorts. On Presidents Day, The Wife and I were going to see the live-action movies at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, but the child watcher didn’t pan out. So, my spouse saw the live-action at 1 p.m. and I saw the animated items at 4 p.m. Then, the next day the Wife and the Daughter saw the animated set.

Don’t know if I’ll ever see the live-action shorts, because they’re now showing only at 9:30 p.m., and that’s not my best time of day to go out to the movies.

Animated

SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM
USA
7MINS/2015

Director: Sanjay Patel
Producer: Nicole Paradis Grindle
Synopsis: Patel uses his own experience to tell the story of a young, first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for western pop culture comes into conflict with his father’s traditions. Sanjay is absorbed in the world of cartoons and comics, while his father tries to draw him into the traditions of his Hindu practice.

Tedium and reluctance quickly turn into an awe-inspiring adventure as the boy embarks on a journey he never imagined, returning with a new perspective that they can both embrace.

This is the new short film from Pixar Animation Studios, and it’s fine, not great, but I don’t much enjoy the uneven playing field that Disney holds. In any case, this will almost certainly not win.

WORLD OF TOMORROW
USA
17MINS/2015

Director & Writer: Don Hertzfeldt
Synopsis: A little girl is taken on a mind-bending tour of her distant future.

OK, THAT was a terse description. Here’s a slightly more enlightening take:
This ‘Future Emily’ takes the toddler on a journey through space and time, discussing the nature of memory, consciousness and immortality, and explaining the ways in which the world will change, for better, and for worse.

Many folks think this film will win the Oscar, and I thought it was thought-provoking. My bride said that there was a piece of dialogue that she thought was reminiscent of something from Thorton Wilder’s Our Town. Specifically, it had to do with that Emily noting that people are not appreciating life when we’re living it.

bear-story-historia-de-un-oso
HISTORIA DE UN OSO(BEAR STORY)
CHILE
11MINS/2014

Director:Gabriel Osorio
Producer:Pato Escala
Synopsis: An old, lonesome bear tells the story of his life through a mechanical diorama.

I LOVE this one! It’s the favorite of both my spouse and myself. It works at several levels. Here’s a review:
“The story itself is rather simple. But the sadness in the bear’s life—the empty table he leaves every morning, the pictures of his absent family on the wall, the disheveled home of a man who has no reason to clean anymore—betrays something deeper and darker in the background. The short packs an emotional wallop if you let it.”

WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT COSMOS
RUSSIA
16MINS/2014

Director & Writer: Konstantin Bronzit
Producer: Alexander Boyarsky
Synopsis: Two cosmonauts, two friends, try to do their best in their everyday training life to make their common dream a reality. But this story is not only about the dream.

No dialogue yet conveys the bond beautifully.

Unfortunately, the director says film pirates are “killing” this short.

Now, these animated items are rather short, so they add a few other stories.

From the shortlist of possible nominees:

IF I WAS GOD…
CANADA

Creator: Cordell Barker
Synopsis: What would you do if you were 12 and suddenly found yourself charged with God-like powers? Would you use them for good? For bad? Perhaps a little of both?

Here’s an interview with Barker.

THE SHORT STORY OF A FOX AND A MOUSE
Nicely rendered. The Daughter’s favorite. See this video.

Then a couple of other videos, one involving a bunch of meerkats and a vulture that looked very Disney.

Before the fifth nominated film, there was a warning about nudity and violence, inappropriate for children.

PROLOGUE
UK
6MINS/2015

Director: Richard Williams
Producer: Imogen Sutton

Synopsis: “Prologue” describes an incident in the Spartan-Athenian wars of 2,400 years ago. In it, a small girl bears witness as warriors battle to the death. The dialog-free project utilizes natural sounds to complement the intense animation entirely animated by Richard Williams himself.

OK, I get it. War is hell. But I agree with this assessment:

“‘Prologue’ seems to exist for no other reason than to show off the drawing talent and enthusiasm for over-the-top gore of its creator, and therefore really has no place amongst the ranks of the previous four short films.”

I told my family NOT to stay for this last piece, and they abided by my suggestion.

Live-Action

Ave_Maria_short_poster

My wife thought three of them were real downers.
AVE MARIA
PALESTINE/FRANCE/GERMANY
15MINS/2015

Director:Basil Khalil
Producers: Eric Dupont, Eric Fantone
Synopsis:The silent routine of 5 Palestinian nuns living in the West Bank wilderness is disturbed when an Israeli settler family breaks down right outside the convent just as the Sabbath comes into effect.

This was apparently a quite charming comedy.

DAY ONE
USA
25MINS/2014

Director: Henry Hughes
Producer: Michael Steiner
Synopsis: Inspired by a true story, DAY ONE depicts a new translator’s first day accompanying a US Army unit as it searches for a local terrorist. As she quickly discovers, her job will bring up brutal complexities as gender and religious barriers emerge with lives hanging in the balance.

This was tough to watch, reportedly.

ALLES WIRD GUT(EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY)
GERMANY/AUSTRIA
30MINS/2015

Director, Writer & Producer: Patrick Vollrath Synopsis: A divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while, Lea can‘t help feeling that something isn’t right. So begins a fateful journey.

No, everything will NOT be OK.

SHOK (FRIEND)
KOSOVO/UNITED KINGDOM
21MINS/2015

Director & Writer: Jamie Donoughue
Producers: Harvey Ascott, Eshref Durmishi, Howard Dawson
Synopsis: The friendship of two boys is tested to its limits as they battle for survival during the Kosovo war.

War is fodder for many live-action shorts.

STUTTERER
UK/IRELAND
12MINS/2015

Director: Benjamin Cleary
Producers: Shan Christopher Ogilvie & Serena Armitage
Synopsis: Apart from his aging father, Greenwood has only one connection to the external world in the form of an online relationship. Every night, often for hours at a time, he exchanges messages with Ellie. On the eve of their six-month anniversary, Ellie messages Greenwood and tells him that she has traveled to London to surprise him. She asks if he would like to take things “offline” and meet in person for the first time. The image above is taken from the moment just after Greenwood gets that earth-shattering message and is suddenly facing a daunting proposition with everything at stake.

While consequential, this was not nearly so heavy as the others.