One enjoyable part of Oscar season is heading to the local theater to watch the nominated short films. Yes, I am painfully aware that you can't catch them at megaplexes everywhere, but I think they are more widely available in more places every year. I thank the select-cities gods that Chicago is among those places! I don't generally decide which to watch first out of animated shorts or live action shorts based on anything other than the showtimes at the local theater (which in this case is AROUND THE CORNER from me! hurrah!) and so this year I happened to first see the Oscar-nominated live action short films. I liked them all and thoroughly enjoyed three out of the five. In the order I saw them:
Kavi - Modern-slavery at a brick-making kiln job in India, and the scrappy young boy who wants to escape from it to do normal things like go to school and play cricket with the other boys. Human rightsy themed, so obviously it's up my alley, but it's also well done and enjoyable. I've heard some predict it to win, and I could see that happening and be OK with it. Plus it was made by USC film school people, so it must be great! Fight on.
The New Tenants - I wouldn't mind seeing this win, either. It was hilarious and dark. Two guys and a variety of people who come to the door of their new apartment, with all sorts of shady goings-on. Kind of Coen-brothers esque, with a particularly funny opening exchange between the two of them.
Miracle Fish - My favorite! Oh, I so want this one to win. An 8-year-old boy who is bullied and alone, and a dark, sad day at school that goes in a completely surprising direction. I absolutely loved it. Every bit of it was so wonderful and real. Writer/director Luke Doolan is my new hero. And the Australian child actor Karl Beattie is definitely one to watch. Miracle Fish!!!
The Door - This was my least favorite of the five, although some are predicting it will win. Probably because it's got the serious subject matter of Chernobyl, tragedy, a family, shots of a vast wintry landscape, etc. I shouldn't be too harsh, as it has a successful subtlety to it. But I was left kind of "whatever" instead of gripped.
Instead of Abracadabra - This one was weird. It probably won't win, partially because it's funny and kind of haphazardly odd, but it's actually pretty well done. The guy who plays the magician who lives at home with his parents instead of getting a real job pulls off quite a performance.
So there you have it! Remember, more and more cities are giving the Oscar-nominated shorts a chance in theaters. Check out your metropolitan area - and if the short films aren't playing where you live, dash off an email to a local cinema or two. They just need to know there's interest, and you will get to have an interesting and enjoyable cinema experience that supports filmmakers and never drags on for hours.