Movie Review: The Oscar-Nominated Short Films

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My husband and I were trying to find something fun and relatively cheap to do a couple of weekends ago, so we were going through one of our free newspapers looking for ideas. We were intrigued when we saw a review of the Oscar-Nominated Short Films, showing at a local theater. We decided to head on out the next afternoon and check them out.

The documentaries were being shown separately, so we only saw the live-action and animated shorts. As with a short story anthology, we thought the movies were a mixed bag, but we still had a good time watching them all. I love watching The Oscars even though I’ve usually only seen a handful of the movies, and those are more likely to be in “Best Makeup” or “Best Visual Effects” rather than “Best Picture.”  I’m excited to watch the Oscars tonight and to have actually seen all the movies in a couple of the categories, even if they are “just” the shorts! 

You can watch trailers for the short films at

Live Action

Pentecost: This was the first one shown, and we were a couple of minutes late. It’s only 11 minutes long and we really wish we had caught the entire thing. The priest giving the altar boys a pep talk worthy of any football underdog movie was hilarious!

Raju: A German couple is in India to adopt a little boy from an orphanage.  There was a lot of emotion packed into a short amount of time.  The acting was phenomenal.

The Shore caught my eye because Ciarán Hinds was in it. He portrayed Captain Wentworth in a movie version of Persuasion that I haven’t seen. Yet. And you should all know how I love me some Captain Wentworth. I liked this one. An Irishman returns to his home after about 25 years away. He reconnects with some old friends and tries to make amends for some mistakes in his past. There were some genuinely funny parts, and I enjoyed the way that the movie showed how so many rifts are caused by simple miscommunications.

Time Freak: I’m honestly a little surprised this was nominated. I don’t mean that it was bad in any way, but to me, it was straightforward entertainment, and that never seems to be what Hollywood is looking for. A young man invents a time machine and chooses to use it in a surprising way. I have a feeling that he’s using it exactly the way that most of us would if this ever became a reality. It was pretty darn funny.

Tuba Atlantic: I don’t even know what to say about this one. It was a little…odd. An old Norwegian man finds out that he only has six days to live, and he sets out to make contact with his estranged brother who is now living in the US. The only phone number he has is disconnected, so the old man sets out to make contact the only way he can–with a gigantic, trans-Atlantic tuba. It’s explained, but it’s still odd. There were some funny moments here too, especially when Oskar is interacting with the cute young girl who is his volunteer “Death Angel.” But I’m left wondering what the deal was with the seagulls.

Our pick: Pentecost.
Our pick for probable winner: Raju


This is what I really wanted to see, but I was a little disappointed overall.

Dimanche/Sunday: A bored little boy is trying to pass a Sunday with relatives. Maybe there was some symbolism that I didn’t get here, but I was just left scratching my head. I didn’t get it. Not one bit. The almost-stick figure style was not to my taste either.

A Morning Stroll: This one was pretty cute. A man out for a morning stroll through the city is surprised to encounter a chicken bouncing down the sidewalk and then up the stairs and into a house. The same scene plays out in three different years: something like 1909, 2009, and 2059. Fans of post-apocalyptic novels will like the ending of this one. We were all so surprised, we were just cracking up!

Wild Life: Another one that I didn’t like. A young Englishman immigrates to Canada to enjoy life in the Wild West. He obviously has no idea what he’s doing, but he writes beautiful fictional accounts of his life in his letters back home. This one was pretty stark, but I did like the artistic style. It reminded me of a famous painter, but I can’t put my finger on exactly which one. I want to say Edward Hopper, and that’s probably right for the landscape but not for the people.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore: I loved this one. I was inclined to love it based on the title alone. An intelligent young man on vacation (I’m pretty sure in New Orleans) is blown away in a storm to a special library where the books fly around and have lives of their own. How perfect is this? I loved the story and I loved the animation. All the books were capable of showing some basic emotions like curiosity or concern, but Mr. Lessmore’s guide manages to convey much more than that in a way that I thought was ingenious.

La Luna: Pixar’s entry. Do I have to say more? This one was just pure magic. Grandpa, father, and son set out in their boat to climb onto the moon. I enjoyed the story and I always love Pixar’s animation.

Our pick: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Our pick for probable winner: Either La Luna or The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. I’ll be happy either way.

Animated:  Honorable Mentions:

Nullarbor: This was hilarious.  Apparently “The Nullarbor” is the longest, straightest piece of treeless road in Australia, or something like that.  A young punk in a muscle car is intimidating an old man in a beater when he realizes that he’s out of cigarettes.  The old man has a package in the windshield.   The young punk goes crazy trying to get those cigarettes.  I thought it was funny, but there were a few people in the row behind me who were laughing until they couldn’t breathe.  I liked the animation of this one as well.  I truly thought this should have taken the place of either “Dimanche/Sunday” or “Wild Life” in the list of actual nominees.

Amazonia: Also just kind of cute. This tells the story of a young frog trying to survive in the Amazon. I like the bright colors of the animation, and the story got a few chuckles out of us.

Skylight: My husband laughed pretty hard at this one. A “mockumentary” about the plight of the penguins and how the hole in the ozone layer is affecting them, the punch line was so unexpected that you just had to laugh.

Hybrid Union: An odd little…allegory, I guess…about the benefits of electric vehicles. It was a little preachy and a little long.

Have you seen any of these? What did you think? Tune in to ABC tonight at 7:00 to see who wins!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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