Mon. Aug 3rd, 2020

2018 Oscars: Live-Action Shorts Reviews

The 2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films will be released in theaters on February 9th and On Demand February 27th before the Oscars on March 4th. Here are my reviews of the Live Action nominees. Click on the titles for the trailers to each film.

Country of origin: USA
Language: English
Directed by: Reed Van Dyk
21 minutes

As we live in an era of daily mass shootings, DeKalb Elementary is a terrifyingly ripped from the headlines story of a mentally unstable man, Steven (Bo Mitchell), who enters an elementary school with a semi-automatic rifle. After he orders the school receptionist, Cassandra (Tarra Riggs), to have the building evacuated, he holds her hostage and instructs her to call 911. Mitchell is scary and convincing but Riggs is absolutely brilliant as a woman forced to help and empathize with her captor in a way I’m not sure most of us could.

Country of origin: Australia
Language: English
Directed by: Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
13 minutes

The only comedy in the bunch, and it’s quite a good one. A cross between mistaken identities and ‘who’s on first?’ with rapport between Damon Herriman (Justified) and writer, co-director and co-star Josh Lawson (Superstore, House of Lies) as a psychiatrist and delusional patient (but which is which?) that is rapid-fire and hilarious. A very dynamic duo. The sepia-drenched cinematography, production design and costuming aesthetic further complicates the who’s-who until the final reveal. 

Country of origin: USA
Language: English
Directed by: Kevin Wilson Jr.
20 minutes

One of two ‘based on a true story’ films, My Nephew Emmett recalls when two white men invade the home of Mose Wright, an African-American preacher in 1955 Mississippi, to abduct his 14-year-old nephew, Emmett Till, who is visiting from Chicago. Emmett is accused of whistling at a white woman. It’s a very cinematic and visually striking film but a bit overwrought and over-acted by its ‘racist’ cast. Actual footage of Wright shows up at the end but it’s all too brief. Also brief is the appearance of former TV star Jasmine Guy (A Different World) as Emmett’s aunt, giving her best Ruby Dee possible.

Country of origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Directed by: Chris Overton and Rachel Senton
20 minutes

Libby, a deaf four-year-old, is the youngest child in a family who are all hearing. Unable to communicate but about to start school, Libby is assigned a social worker who teaches her sign language. Libby’s skeptical parents are reluctant to be involved, however, and pose a potential block to Libby’s education. This is a gorgeously shot and impeccably acted film from the top down. Resonant and heartfelt without being sentimental, I ached for a full-length version, which is the mark of a great short film.

Country of origin: Germany, Kenya
Language: Swahili, Somali
Directed by: Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen
22 minutes

Detailing the true story of a violent terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, who boarded a bus in Kenya to weed out Christians and Christian sympathizers, ordering the Muslim passengers to identify them or be shot themselves. It leans to the side of heavy-handed but its message of tolerance is no less potent with good performances throughout.

Find out who the Gold Rush Gang thinks is winning the Live Action Short Oscar right here.

For a full list of theaters the short films are playing in, visit:

For information on how to watch On Demand, visit:

About ShortsHD

ShortsHD™ is the first high definition channel dedicated to short movies and is available on DIRECTV (Channel 573), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789), CenturyLink Prism TV (1789), Frontier Communications (Channel 1789), Verizon Fios TV, Google Fiber and numerous NCTC member companies.  ShortsHD™ is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts International also operates ShortsTV®, which is available across Europe and Africa. Shorts™ is the short movie on-demand service available on iTunes movie stores in 54 countries across the globe and Amazon Instant Video.

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