Wouldn’t it be nice if short films got the same publicity the other 11 months of the year? At least the Academy honors these films, even if they blow right through them during the ceremony, and some theater chains will screen all the nominees together.
Best Short Film, Animated
- “Adam and Dog”
- “Fresh Guacamole”
- “Head Over Heels”
- “The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare”
Only two of these are available online. You can check them both out here (along with trailers for the other three) at Film School Rejects.
My analysis here is really quite simple: Disney feels so good about Paperman (the short the debuted before “Wreck-It Ralph”) that it’s available on YouTube. The same can be said about last year’s winner, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” Presumably, exposure like that should make a big difference. The short represents Disney doing what it does so unapologetically well: create love stories that stir something inside of you no matter how cliché.
The other one you can watch is the incredibly short stop-motion film Fresh Guacamole, which is especially clever, but offers literally nothing else. The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare probably does the same thing, I imagine, but I didn’t see the most recent “Ice Age” to find out.
If any film is going to sneak up on “Paperman” it will be either Adam and Dog or Head Over Heels. From a production quality standpoint, neither film measures up, but voters could be charmed by how the films succeed with lesser resources than Disney. I haven’t seen either, but I’m drawn to the concept of “Head Over Heels,” a husband and wife couple living in the same house but with different gravitational pulls.
Best Short Film, Live Action
- “Buzkashi Boys”
- “Death of a Shadow”
All the entries except one are foreign, but I can’t be too certain if that means anything. In the last 10 years, foreign projects have generally flown home with this award.
Let’s start with two extremely similar projects, Asad and Buzkashi Boys. The first is a Somali production, the second a semi-Afghani production. Both involve stories of children in oppressive conditions, though the former is lighter in nature and the second much longer (a half hour). My guess here is a cancel out.
Henry on the other hand, is being described as “Amour Lite,” as both films involve love and aging in extremely similar ways. This will either be a great help or hindrance to the French-Canadian short’s chances.
Death of a Shadow is the last foreign nominee, a Dutch film that involves by far the most complicated premise of all the films: a dead World War I soldier is given a second chance at life if he can collect 10,000 shadows. There’s a love story mixed up in their too. More importantly, it stars Matthias Schoenaerts (“Rust and Bone,” “Bullhead”), and name recognition has proven to be especially effective in this category the last few years.
If voters go American, it will be for Shawn Christensen’s Curfew, a story of a suicidal former drug addict who takes care of his spoiled niece for a night out in NYC. It’s been called extremely real and touching as well as solipsistic. I can’t see past the fact that Christensen wrote the Taylor Lautner action vehicle “Abduction.”
Prediction: Death of a Shadow