Welcome back to Oscar Predictions! This year, the nominees in the Shorts categories were released in cinemas, so I was able to catch up on those to get a glimpse of who might take home the Oscar this year. I highly recommend going out to see these films, especially the Animated Shorts, as that showing also include three animated films that weren’t nominated, but are still absolutely hilarious (including the above-captured “The Missing Scarf,” narrated by George Takei). So, who might be taking home the Oscar on March 2nd? Below are my thoughts and predictions.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Easily the strongest of the three shorts categories, the five nominees here each highlight powerful, unique individuals, who all have fascinating stories to tell. If you want a good emotional story, these are the films to seek out.
CaveDigger tells the story of a man living out in New Mexico creating beautiful sculptures out of sandstone. Facing Fear recounts an incident including a neo-nazi beating up a young gay teen, and the two men unexpectedly meeting each other again later in life. Karama Has No Walls records the military in Yemen encroaching upon a peaceful protest, all told through the camera phones of two young radicals. Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private jack Hall shows us a very interesting hospice program in a maximum-security prison, where the prisoners help to take care of some of the much older inmates in their final days.
However, my vote is going to The Lady in Number 6, a beautiful and heart-warming story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor, who survived through the concentration camps because of her beautiful piano-playing. It’s a truly uplifting story that many can get behind, and just because of the sheer joy it brings out in people, I think it could take home the Oscar. If there is a dark horse, it’s CaveDigger, if for nothing else but because it’s just so funny and enjoyable.
Predicted Winner: The Lady at Number 6, with CaveDigger on it’s tail.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Get a Horse!
Room on the Broom
Animated Short is usually one of my favorite categories, but sadly, the nominees this year aren’t as strong, mostly due to a lack of strong storytelling among any of them. Both Feral and Possessions suffer from thinking beautiful, intriguing animation can make up for lackluster storytelling. Mr. Hublot definitely falls in line with some of the animated nominees from the past, sharing a story of a OCD man who adopts a robot dog, but it’s brevity is also it’s downfall, with much of the action happening far too quickly. Room on the Broom is a delightfully pleasant story about a witch and her animal friends, but it’s hard to really call it “Oscar-Worthy.”
That sadly leaves us with Get a Horse, the Disney-animated short that many have seen as it was screened before Frozen in cinemas. But to be fair, it is a very fun short, with some very clever animation tricks. Because of the wide appeal, and the lack of any real competition, it looks like Get a Horse will get an Oscar as well. I hated that joke as much as you did.
Predicted Winner: Get a Horse. Maybe Mr. Hublot? The most meh of categories.
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
That Wasn’t Me
Just Before Losing Everything
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything
The Voorman Problem
Another sub-par, if not mildly interesting category. The entries here all definitely present fascinating and moving stories, though the problem is, for the most part, they’re all stories we’ve seen before, and done much better, for that matter. Helium definitely feels in the same vein as Toyland from a few years back, with it’s fantastical metaphor for the afterlife, though the whole affair is saved by it’s gorgeous production design. Do I Have to Take Care of Everything is essentially the Finnish equivalent of a mediocre episode of Louie. That Wasn’t Me takes a sympathetic Westerner’s approach to the child solider crisis in Africa, which becomes highly problematic and troubling near the film’s end. Just Before Losing Everything is my second-favorite, with a very compelling narrative, almost seeming like a thriller at times, and extremely professionally made.
But my favorite of this bunch was The Voorman Problem, based on a excerpt from a novel by David Mitchell, this clever, witty comedy about a doctor examining an inmate who claims he’s God elicits a whole lot of laughs, and isn’t afraid to get inside your head as much as it does. It gives you a lot to think about, and is the clear stand-out of this lot.
Predicted Winner: The Voorman Problem. If they want to be bold, then Just Before Losing Everything.