The Academy always nominates a wide variety of shorts each year. Some are more impactful than others. This year there seems to be a few frontrunners in each shorts category. After watching them all, that is definitely the case. There was a handful that just didn’t seem that worthy of the nominations. My reviews and rankings will show which are the best and the worst.
1: The Long Goodbye
Directed by: Aniel Karia
Riz Ahmed gives an excellent performance in this film about racial profiling in Europe. He’s just having a gathering with his family when the white supremacists barge in and attack them. He uses rap songs to get the message out about what his compatriots are going through. In a way, they are nomads. No matter where they live, they don’t have a home because of the treatment by the locals and the police. It’s sad that these honest, hard-working Muslims are treated this way.
2: Ala Kachuu — Take and Run
Directed by: Maria Brendle
This was a pretty good look at an epidemic in the world. These lower-income countries don’t have a lot of options, and this is sometimes all they can do. The story is pretty straightforward, and the acting and direction of the film are very good. We Americans don’t see this a lot because of the family structure, but kidnappings happen all the time in countries like Kyrgyzstan, where the film is set.
3: On My Mind
Directed by: Martin Strange Hansen
This film was another one that had a strong message behind it that is a bit controversial. At first, I didn’t know what it would be about until this man who walks into a bar (usually the punch line of a joke, but not in this case) wants to sing a karaoke song: “Always on Your Mind” by Elvis Presley. His wife is on life support in a hospital and has to make a life and death dedication regarding his wife. One of my favorite sports films, Million Dollar Baby, deals with this subject matter, and it’s pretty hard because this decision isn’t easy.
4: Please Hold
Directed by: K.D. Davila
Films about technology are always interesting because you never know how the filmmakers will use it in the story. A movie like Minority Report (based on a book by Philip K. Dick) had a great message about crime and punishment. This one is almost as good as that one. It’s about a guy who gets arrested by a drone police officer. Then, he struggles to get out of prison because of the difficulty of the technology as it deals with the law and getting help. It’s a very damning look at this subject matter. Erik Lopez is very good in the film.
5: The Dress
Directed by: Tadeusz Lysiak
This film is another one exploring complex subject matter because of how people perceive little people in the world. Peter Dinklage, a world-famous actor, even took a shot at Disney about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a very popular film but is the terms “dwarf” or “midget” politically correct anymore? That is the question. The star of this film is very good in the role of Julka. She has an arduous journey from the beginning to the end of the film.
Animated Shorts Rankings
1: Robin Robin
Directed by: Dan Ojari and Mikey Please
Robin Robin is a beautiful little film from Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Studios in conjunction with Netflix. A family of mice finds an egg, and it turns out it’s a robin egg. The father raises the little bird as one of his own until she has to go out on her own on a journey of discovery. This film is a message of adoption and how families and children have to accept the situation they are in. It’s not easy growing up with a different family than the one you are supposed to have for whatever reason. We take advantage of this sometimes.
2: The Windshield Wiper
Directed by: Alberto Mielgo
The Windshield Wiper is a very beautiful film that depicts a group of various situations, from a man sitting at a diner to a woman going to the beach and a homeless man. A different style of painting depicts each situation. This film is pretty straightforward in depicting all of these different scenarios. This form of animation is different from other forms, but it stands out because it is different and gorgeous. I definitely would like to see this animator get a full-length feature someday.
Directed by: Hugo Covarrubias
Bestia film was a bit disturbing, to say the least. It was about violence and how people let depression and so forth get the better of them. Violence begets violence. This country and others have a lot of issues with anger and violence. I don’t know if this was the way to express one’s opinion about it, though — it was a bit extreme. Also, this animation style was much to my liking either.
Directed by Anton Dyakov
Boxballet is a Russian animated short. A ballerina befriends a boxer, and the film depicts their lives. The animation is interesting. It’s not the greatest hand-drawn animation, but not terrible either. The film has some nice music in it. The basic story is a bit sad because of how the relationship between these two progresses. It’s like a story of Beauty and the Beast if you will. The ballerina is the beauty, and the boxer is the beast.
5: Affairs of the Art
Directed by: Joanna Quinn and Les Mills
A woman narrates her relationship throughout life with her sister. They both end up very differently. Bev gets into a lot of weird stuff, from taxidermy to pickling things in jars and other stuff only an oddball would do. The animation is a bunch of pencil drawings pieced together to create this short film. It’s not the best animation among the bunch of nominees. It just is a weird film in general. I don’t see it winning an Oscar at all.
1: The Queen of Basketball
Directed by: Ben Proudfoot
The film depicts the story of Lucia Harris, dubbed the Queen of Basketball in the ’70s. She played for Delta State University from Cleveland, Mississippi. She was considered the best women’s basketball player on earth for quite a while. She had even made history, scoring the first basket in the Olympics for women’s basketball. These stories are all interesting because they put the spotlight on people that otherwise wouldn’t be told. The film mainly focuses on Lucy and has a lot of archival footage of her past. This was very enlightening to see. She was a groundbreaking athlete for her time. She paved a bath for all that have come after her.
Directed by: Matt Ogens
Audible is about a deaf football team in Maryland. They lost a game versus another deaf team for the first time in 16 seasons. They use a drum to help them in practice and in the games. Without the ability to hear, deaf kids have to use their other five senses, especially their vision, to play football. These kids’ disability doesn’t define who they are or what they can accomplish. It just proved they can move forward in the face of adversity. This film shows how these kids can live a life. The film’s filmmaking style and main focus, the characters, is very good and deserves this Oscar nomination.
3: Lead Me Home
Directed by: Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk
This film is about the homeless epidemic in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles from 2017 to 2020. The film focuses on many talking heads from these three cities regarding their being homeless and what they need to help them get out of these dire circumstances. The filmmakers get all involved in trying to help these people out. It’s a pretty rough situation for everyone involved. It’s kind of sad to watch. It’s a rough film to get through, but this story needed to be told to help shed light on this problem. The film uses various techniques to show the passing of time, but other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward documentary.
4: Three Songs for Benazir
Directed by: Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei
This film depicts a group of people in Afghanistan. Mainly, it focuses on a husband and wife, Shaista and Benazir. They live in a refugee camp in Kabul. He is trying to get into the Afghan National Army. This will help him ensure a future for himself and his family. The film offers a fascinating look at people from other countries and how their lives differ from our own. Some of these countries, especially war-torn countries like Afghanistan, are hard-hit, and it’s difficult for people to get out of squalor. This man wants to provide a good life for his wife and himself. It’s easier said than done sometimes.
5: When We Were Bullies
Directed by: Jay Rosenblatt
This film is about a man and his youth growing up in New York City. It has narration from the man who is the film’s primary focus. He inadvertently ran into a fifth-grade classmate of his in San Francisco. It has a form of animation in it as well. This is just a slice-of-life story of these two men’s youth, but it is also a story that many other people remembered as well from when they were at that school during that time, including the teacher, at PS 194. This story is interesting but not altogether great in any way. The various ways the story is depicted in the film is the best thing about it.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Foinder/EIC disappointmentmedia