Many blockbuster directors got their start directing shorts and the group of nominees this year should once again prove a stepping stone for talented directors to break through. Check out my reviews of each as well as where to see them (if they are available).
An Irish Goodbye
Nominees Tom Berkely and Ross WHite
Following the death of their mother, an Irish man Turlough (Seamus O’Hara) returns home to his brother Lorcan (James Martin), who has down syndrome. Lorcan has no desire to leave, while Turlough just wishes to be done with it all. When their mother’s bucket list is discovered, the brothers decide to delay plans to complete their mothers final wishes.
It might seem like a cheap manipulation on paper, especially when dealing with a character with a disability. But this film has different ideas. Lorcan is not some magical character. He crass, angry, sad, and complex. The disability is a feature, not the forefront. This sweet-natured short is an easy, heartwarming watch.
Nominees Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan
In a quiet Greenlandic village, young Pipaluk (Mila Heilmann Kreutzmann) lives with her sister Ivalu (Nivi Larsen) and their father. When Ivalu disappears, Pipaluk is guided by nature and her memories in order to discover the truth of what she knows, and what she soon will find out.
There is a dark and heavy overtone of what actually happens in the short, but the film never sensationalizes it or makes you pity the characters. The darker mystery (smartly) takes a backseat to the secret connection and “language” between sisters. Beautifully shot in Greenland. Could have used some expansion.
Nominees Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuaron
Watch on Disney+
In wartime Italy, a group of girls at a Catholic boarding school navigate Christmas in sparse times. Run by demanding nuns, the girls are kept at the strictest of instruction. When a desperate woman blesses the girls with a special cake, the differences between wickedness and holiness are blurred in the sweetest of ways.
Considerably longer than most of the other shorts, its runtime is in no way justified. But, it can still be forgiven once you get to the end and realize what the film has been up to. The love for the girls could be outweighed by the hatred of the nuns, but the girls are too adorable to ignore. It will also increase your desire for a Zuppa Inglese.
Nominees Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen
Watch on YouTube
A dwarf woman (Sigrid Kandal Husjord) waiting on a bus decides to quietly commandeer the vehicle for the night. As she gets the hang of her new role, she encounters different late night issues. When a passenger (Ola Hoemsnes Sandum) is harassed, the woman takes matters into her own hands.
The most confounding of the nominees. Each decision each character makes is illogical and odd. Characters are more constructs than actual humans. Why did each person do what they do? Who knows as long as it works out in the end. By no means embarrassing, but pointless.
The Red Suitcase
Nominee Cyrus Neshvad
16-year-old Ariane (Nawelle Ewad) watches her suitcase spin on the turnstile at the Luxembourg airport. She is delaying meeting the man on the other side of the arrival gate: the husband who she is arranged to marry. As she dodges calls and texts from her father, she makes a plan to have some agency on her own life.
For a film that has only 18 minutes to get its point across, there is an incredible amount of tension. It plays out nearly like a slasher film, as the final girl desperately tries to escape from the boogeyman who doesn’t know what she looks like. A great exercise in concise, crisp storytelling that will be hard to shake.
Ranking the 2021 Live Action Short Nominees
2022 Oscar Nominations
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