Welcome to part two of our Oscar Short Film coverage! I hope our post about the animated films piqued some interest into getting to know the nominees a little better.
The Live Action nominees this year are a strong bunch, although I will admit I found last year’s crop to be a little stronger in terms of production value and storytelling. Nevertheless, here are your nominees Oscar 2011!
The Confession (UK)
The Confession follows two young boys on the verge of making their first confession. One of the boys, Jacob, has a grocery list of mischief to confess, the other, Sam, is a straight arrow paranoid about finding a last minute sin he can tell the priest when it’s his turn in the box. Since both boys seem to be certain that no one will believe Sam’s unblemished record, the boys hash out a scheme to prank the neighborhood farmer. I won’t tell you what happens, although be warned this film is not a snapshot of lighthearted juvenile hijinks. The Confession left much unanswered for me personally, and it did not take the direction I hoped it would, but having said that, this film is a solid work with quality acting, writing, and directing.
The Crush (Ireland)
I found The Crush to be similar to The Confession in that it depicts children in the midst of very adult situations. The short starts out innocent (and adorable) enough with the main character Argal professing his love to his teacher Miss Purdy. Not wanting to crush the young lad’s feelings, Miss Purdy plays along with Argal’s little fantasy, until Argal realizes Miss Purdy is in fact engaged. The guy she’s engaged to is a prick, and while Miss Purdy is oblivious to it, Argal is able to show her the error of her ways when he threatens to kill the poor bastard. While at gunpoint, he confesses to not really wanting to marry Miss Purdy and she dumps him. No, it doesn’t end up in quite so dark a place as The Confession, and the tense moments are eased with interjections of humor, but again, I wish the film handled the subject matter in a different and more creative way.
God of Love (USA)
What can I say about God of Love? It was my personal favorite of the five films nominated, both because it was an original idea, and beautifully executed. Everything right down to the costume styling was brilliantly chosen and set the perfect mood for the rest of the film. I also enjoyed the black and white. I don’t want to give too much away about this one, just know that love is a mysterious force…wielded in the hands of a charmingly nerdy Adam Samberg look alike. I feel this film has a good chance considering it stands a part from the rest of the field in subject matter. From a production standpoint, this film was the strongest of the bunch.
Na Wewe (Belgium)
Another look at the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis, this film follows a motorcar of refugees as they travel through Burundi and are abruptly stopped by a Hutu-run roadblock. Each passenger must then fight for their life as they try to convince the militants of their lineage. I was a huge fan of Hotel Rwanda, and while I had big hopes for this film it just didn’t hit me in the same way, although the message was clear and one every audience should hear. Also, I don’t know how they do it, but U2 saves the day. Again.
Wish 143 (UK)
What would you do if you had one wish and a death sentence? If you’re a teen boy the answer is obvious. This film explores what it means to be young, dying, and in need of one final embrace with life before it’s all over. Of all the films, this one does the best job of combining humor with tough situations, however, there are times when that works against it. I wasn’t sure what this film wanted to be, or really what it wanted the audience to take away. However, the film did have an original story with heartwarming moments and a conscience about how to navigate one’s final days on earth.
Similar to the animated shorts, trailers and clips of the live action shorts can be viewed on youtube, or purchased through iTunes. Of course, if you’re in the Philly area, you can catch a showing at the Ritz Bourse!