Has anyone else seen the roadshow screenings of the 2016 Oscar nominated shorts? Yesterday I caught both the Live-Action and Animated shorts. This is the first year I’ve actually seen the short films. I don’t know if it was just because they were seen in one long block, but *my God *were Live-Action ones thoroughly depressing! I think I would have appreciated them more on their own rather than all at once. By the time a certain scene happened in the final film, “Day One,” I just started laughing because it was so over-the-top in it’s misery.
Ave Maria: A family of Israeli Jews find themselves at a Catholic nunnery in the West Bank on the Sabbath eve. The most humorous of the bunch. While it was funny & satirical, I’m not sure I fully grasped what the point was.
Shok (Friend): The story of two young boys during the war in Kosovo. This is my pick to win. The two boys are *very *impressive and every scene feels incredibly real. This is the film that moved me the most.
Everything Will be OK (Alles Wird Gut): A German divorced father takes his young daughter on what she thinks is just a day trip, but it soon becomes evident he plans it to be much more. Another *very *impressive child actor. Really, the girl here and the two boys in “Shok” give stronger performances than almost all the adult actors. This one felt like it went on longer than it needed to convey the story. The audience can feel the tension building to something from the very beginning, and by the end you just feel drained.
Stutterer: A British man with a terrible stutter is afraid of meeting his online girlfriend in person. I really enjoyed this one. This one had some very nice cinematography and the performance of the lead was very endearing. I liked how sound was so deftly used to convey his inner thoughts & fears. While the outcome was pretty much what I guessed it to be, it was very cute. This one could pull an upset if the voters feel like rewarding something without misery.
Day One: The first day on the job for a female US military interpreter in Afghanistan. I thought this one was trying way too hard to be shocking and unlike the other war story “Shok,” I was never unaware here that these were actors. It was just too much to be believable. Like I said earlier, when the doctor tells the interpreter “The baby is dead. You have to cut it out in pieces.” I couldn’t help but laugh because come on! By this point in the showcase it was just like enough already! I did notice a couple people walk out at that point of course that means they didn’t see that the aforementioned dead baby amputation scene doesn’t actually happen as the baby is actually alive. Though after it’s finally delivered the mother dies, and the father is arrested, so no upbeat ending here!
After that we saw the Animated shorts.
Sanjay’s Super Team: Pixar’s entry this year, about an Indian boy who would rather play with his action figures than pray with his father. This was sweet and funny, with great animation, typical of Pixar, but I got tired of all the superhero fighting sequences. The scenes that were just the boy & his father were wonderful though.
World of Tomorrow: There’s actually a whole thread on this board about this one, as it’s available to watch on Netflix and I highly recommend it! This was wonderful! A very unique film, both in it’s animation style and in story, about a young child being visited by her 2nd generation clone from the future. This one had such a great style of humor and it’s loopy time travel narrative made complete sense. My pick to win.
Bear Story: A former circus bear shows his life story through an animatronic diorama. The animation here was very cool, with all the gears and motors and nuts & bolts of the mechanical bears inside the machine. The story seemed more anti-circus to me than anything else, I guess that was the point.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos: A Russian entry about two lifelong friends who want nothing more than to become cosmonauts. I think it’s between “World of Tomorrow” and this one to win. This one had heart, and sorrow, and joy, and depression, and while I’m not *quite *sure the ending works, I really enjoyed it.
Prologue: Before this one started there was a warning that it was not appropriate for children because of graphic violence and nudity, and boy was that correct! A short 5-minute piece about the violence of Man, shown by four Roman-type warriors - two naked - brutally slaughtering each other in graphic and bloody detail. The animation here was IMO the most gorgeous of the whole series, as it was hand-animated pencil photorealistic drawings, like a large flip book, but there really wasn’t anything to the story other than “Four men kill each other, graphically.” It was kinda like a gladiator fight scene from the Starz series “Spartacus,” but that’s all it was. With a coda of, “Violence is awful, look how terrible and scary this is.” Not exactly a novel concept…
I have not seen the Documentary shorts, though two of those are on Netflix so I probably will watch them at some point before the Oscars.
My predictions to win:
Animated: World of Tomorrow
I’m not sure in how many cities the Shorts are showing, in NYC they’re at the IFC Center.