What makes a short film stand out for the larger base of the voting membership of the Academy? Is it star power and recognizability? Is it theme? Is it accessibility? How much does length factor into a voter’s decision to even watch a ‘short’ film? There isn’t a single answer here as it’s usually a combination of two or more of those that can tip the balance in a year that doesn’t have a Dear Basketball or The White Helmets to pick as an easy winner.
The animated nominees are a super eclectic bunch but the race is between the cute fuzziness of Burrow and the heart-wrenching and unrelenting sadness of If Anything Happens I Love You. It’s going to depend on where the voters hearts and minds are in this year, needing to be cheered up with the Pixar bunny (Pixar is a 5-time winner here) or the examination of a marriage of grieving parents whose daughter is killed in a school shooting. Backed by Laura Dern and Netflix, I’m going with the latter.
The Live Action shorts are all heavy subjects of race, conflict and persecution with nary a light moment in the bunch, save probably Feeling Through, about a young Black man who quickly becomes responsible for helping a middle aged deaf and blind white man catch a bus home. The Present, about a Palestinian father and daughter in Israeli-occupied West Bank trying to buy a gift recently won the BAFTA and is available on Netflix. Also on Netflix is Two Distant Strangers, which uses a time loop like Groundhog Day to examine race relations between a Black man and a white cop. It doesn’t get more relevant than that at this point in time. The Letter Room stars Oscar Isaac but feels like a longer shot here. White Eye is tense and clever in its single shot take tale of a stolen bike and a stolen life.
The Documentary shorts are also steeped in sadness and sorrow with A Concerto is a Conversation being the shortest and the lightest film of the bunch, something that may work in its favor. It’s impossible to discount the Holocaust subject matter of Colette by way of the video game Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (no, really), the Hong protests of Do Not Split, childhood famine in Hunger Ward and the love and loss of A Love Song for Latasha (available on Netflix).
There is a legitimate case for Netflix to dominate all three short races this year and it could very well happen.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in Los Angeles.
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Animated Short Film, Documentary Short Subject and Live Action Short Film.
1. If Anything Happens I Love You
Will McCormack and Michael Govier
Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat
3. Genius Loci
Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise
Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
1. A Concerto Is a Conversation
Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
2. Do Not Split
Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
3. A Love Song for Latasha
Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan
Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
5. Hunger Ward
Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
LIVE ACTION SHORT
1. Feeling Through
Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
2. Two Distant Strangers
Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
3. The Present – BAFTA
4. White Eye
Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman
5. The Letter Room
Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan