Academy Awards shorts

The Last Repair Shop

I’m reviewing the Academy Awards shorts after finally seeing the documentaries at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady on March 6 at 2 pm, where the auditorium was about half full. Yes, I could have seen most of these on a small screen, but seeing them on the large GE Theater screen was more impactful, IMO. 

Animated short – previously reviewed

*Letter to a Pig 

*Ninety-Five Senses – my favorite

*Our Uniform

*Pachyderme – perhaps the best

*War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko. It won the Oscar, but it was the most conventional.

Documentary Short

*The ABCs of Book Banning  “follows the fight against book bans in America, specifically in Florida.”This works because it is the children, many around the age of 10, who “express disappointment over losing access to vital titles on LGBTQ and racial issues, wars, and the realities of growing up.” Then there’s centenarian Grace Linn, who “confronts a Florida School Board, opposing book banning in local schools,” citing her late husband as part of the reason. It’s currently playing on Paramount+. 

*The Barber of Little Rock “explores America’s racial wealth gap through the story of barber Arlo Washington, who founded People Trust.” While there’s a lot of conversation about the wealth gap between white and black Americans, about eight times difference, the real impact was seeing the impact that not that much money can have on people’s lives. There’s an eye-to-eye exercise at the barber school, which is powerful. The New Yorker has this online.

*Island In Between—” S. Leo Chiang reflects on his relationship with Taiwan, the United States, and China from the islands of Kinmen, just a few miles from mainland China.” I had no idea that Taiwan controlled the islands, which are surrounded on three sides by the mainland. Where is Chiang’s home?Will the Beijing government take over Taiwan’s first line of defense? Interesting. You may watch this on the New York Times site.

My favorite in the category

*The Last Repair Shop: “Los Angeles is one of the last American cities to provide free and freely repaired musical instruments to public schoolchildren—this film goes inside a warehouse where instruments are repaired for students.” What’s terrific are the backstories of the “handful of devoted craftspeople [who] keep over 80,000 student instruments in good repair.” This was my favorite of the five. It’s available on Disney+. It rightly won the Oscar. 

*Nai Nai and Wài Pó – Sean Wang: “”Nǎi Nai (奶奶) is my grandma. Wài Pó (外婆) is also my grandma. Together, they are a grandma super team that dances, stretches, and farts their sorrows away.” One is in her 80s and feels like she was in her 20s. The other is in her 90s and feels as if she were 100. They are a hoot. It’ll be on Disney+ if it isn’t there already.

Live-Action Short

The After – “follows a grieving rideshare driver (David Oyelowo) who picks up a passenger who helps him confront the past.” It’s on Netflix.

*Invincible –“Inspired by a true story, Invincible recounts the last 48 hours in the life of Marc-Antoine Bernier, a 14-year-old boy on a desperate quest for freedom. A film by Vincent René-Lortie. I saw it on Vimeo. Depressing.

*Knight of Fortune – “The loss of a loved one, the grief, the risk of yellow skin, and a coffin, this is too much for Karl to face. It is much easier to fix a broken lamp. A chance encounter with a stranger will help him face his pain.” I watched this on the New Yorker’s YouTube channel and. liked it. I forwarded the link to some of my Death Cafe colleagues.

*Red, White, and Blue tells “the story of Rachel (Brittany Snow), a single parent living paycheck to paycheck who…  has to travel across state lines in search of an abortion.” This, I suspect, is all too common. It was available from Vimeo for $1.99.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved story about a rich man who sets out to master an extraordinary skill to cheat at gambling. It is available on Netflix. Wes Anderson directed it, and it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, so it’s unsurprising that it won the Oscar.  


I heard the Academy Awards were on Sunday night. As usual, I recorded them, but I haven’t viewed them yet. I will probably watch them by June, when I record the Tonys, and watch them over the summer. I’m not all that interested in who was “snubbed.”

I was thrilled that American Fiction’s Cord Jefferson won Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Anatomy of a Fall’s Justine Triet and Arthur Harari got Best Writing (Original Screenplay). 

The other award I was pleased about is a category I seldom consider much. The Zone of Interest’s Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn won for Best Sound. If you’ve seen the film, you know why.

Academy Award nominations for 2017

I wish The Florida Project had gotten more love

Life being what it is, I’ve only seen six of the nine Best Picture nominations so far. That won’t keep me from picking who will, and should, win. I’ll limit this to the major categories.

Worse, I have watched ZERO of the five animated feature flicks, though I wanted to see the inevitable winner, Coco, and Loving Vincent, which looked fascinating in previews.

Links to my reviews at first mention:

Best Picture:

Call Me by Your Name (pictured)
*Darkest Hour
Get Out – getting buzz after Writers’ Guild award
*Lady Bird – with ranked voting, and some people hating Shape of Water and/or Three Billboards, this, or Get Out, could actually win
*Phantom Thread
*The Post
*The Shape of Water
*Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – my personal favorite

Lead Actor:

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
*Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
*Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour – will win, and probably should
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Lead Actress: I’ve seen then all!

*Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
*Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – my pick, and will likely win
*Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
*Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
*Meryl Streep, The Post

Supporting Actor:

*Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project – wish this film had gotten more love
*Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
*Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water – my favorite performance in that film
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World – best replacement actor at the last minute, standing in for Kevin Spacey
*Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – he’s deserving of the win he’ll likely get

Supporting Actress:

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
*Allison Janney, I, Tonya – will and should win
*Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread – she was very good
*Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird – so was she
*Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water


Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan
Get Out, Jordan Peele
*Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig – I’m rooting for the first-time director
*Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
*The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro – won the Director’s Guild award, which makes him a virtual lock

Adapted Screenplay:

Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory – it’s the only Best Picture nominee in the lineup, and Ivory is 89
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter, and Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank and James Mangold, and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees – if it isn’t Ivory…
Original Screenplay:

*The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani – I was rather fond of this
Get Out, Jordan Peele – I’m picking the one film I didn’t see to win
*Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
*The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor – suffers from a recent plagiarism allegation
*Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh
Did the Oscars Blow Its Big Bet?

Bess Flowers – She appeared in 5 Oscar-winning films and appeared in 23 Oscar-nominated films. She worked with all the best directors. Plus a lot more movies, TV and commercials. And 25 Three Stooges shorts.

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