We have a bit of hodgepodge today as we look at two categories that aren’t really related to one another. One of them is actually one of the bigger awards, the directing category, but the one I’m more excited to talk about is the Short Film (Live Action) category which doesn’t get all that much love or attention since most people don’t have a chance to see these shorts (more on this later).
Short Film (Live Action)
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Raju
I wasn’t initially sold on Raju when I saw it, mainly because it was the most dramatic short out of all the other nominees. What changed my mind was that when I really thought about it, I realized that I was emotionally invested in the film the whole time. I was always wondering what was going to happen, how would things resolve themselves, how could someone think like that. All these strong questions were running through my mind over the few short 24 minutes that this film is. The other thing that I think sets this short apart from the others is that the camera work and the way it’s put together are head and shoulders above the other nominees in the category. India feels like another character and you can feel the multitudes of the city weigh down our main character. Engrossing story, good camerawork & editing, and atmosphere make Raju my pick. [trailer]
On everyone else:
Pentecost: This film is a sports movie disguised as a drama and while it’s funny; I don’t think it has the depth to merit an award. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun little movie about an altar boy having to redeem himself after causing a huge disruption at Mass one Sunday, but other than that, what you see is what you get. I actually thought it was probably the funniest short out of all of them, but I don’t think funny alone will take home an Oscar. [trailer]
The Shore: Believe it or not Oscar bait isn’t just limited to the major categories, it’s also in the small ones too in this short film wonderfully put together and starring Ciarán Hinds (The Debt, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Hinds plays Joe, an Irishman returning home after living in America for most of his adult life. While the reunion with his family is his main reason for returning, it’s his reunion with two other childhood friends that provides the main focus for the film. As I mentioned the film seems to have Oscar bait written all over it with a great cast of characters, namely Hinds leading the way. The supporting performances in the film also feel very authentic and the production value is definitely high (and you know how I love my high production values in film). The director of The Shore, Terry George, isn’t a stranger to film as he’s written and directed TV shows in the UK and done a few films as well, most notably Hotel Rwanda. The one gripe I have against the film is that I thought the final resolution wasn’t what it should have been. I’m not sure how many people will even try to check out this film, but I’m not going to go into spoilers. I felt Joe was let off easy in the end and didn’t fully resolve what he set out to do. [trailer]
Time Freak: If there was ever a short film that general audiences could get behind, it definitely would be Time Freak. What would you do if you created a time machine? Go back and visit historical figures from our past? Or would you use to correct those mundane mistakes that we all make on a daily basis? Time Freak hilariously explores the latter of the two questions. With Time Freak it’s another case of ‘what you see is what you get’ with the main character, Stillman (pun?), relating how he’s been going back in time to correct all his little mistakes and faux pas. It’s actually reminiscent of the Bill Murray comedy/drama Groundhog Day and just as funny to see Stillman going through the same events of his day and how he deals with trying to fix it each time. While funny, I don’t think it’s “smart” enough for the Academy. [trailer]
Tuba Atlantic: Though definitely a quirky film, Tuba Atlantic is heartfelt and fun through and through. It tells the story of Oskar, who upon hearing the news that he only has six days left to live, really starts to live life to its fullest by doing things he has always wanted to do, but just didn’t have a reason to do so . . . until now. Like I said the story is definitely quirky with Oskar going out and doing things that seem a little unbelievable or gonzo at times, but in the end it’s the relationship Oskar forges with his caretaker that drives the film. [trailer]
Who WILL Win: The Shore
Like I mentioned earlier, The Shore is right up the Academy’s alley as it has everything they could want in it: great performances by anchored by a known actor, a nice dramatic story; and a writer-director that has a good pedigree. However, The Shore is not a lock to win the category. Of all the Oscar categories, the shorts categories are notorious for being very unpredictable. Take last year’s winner God of Love. While the film was cute and fun, I didn’t think it was strong enough story-wise to win while Oscar prognosticators thought that its humorous tone wouldn’t grab votes. How wrong we were. Having said that, nothing is ever really certain in this category. Don’t be surprised if Tuba Atlantic nabs the Oscar on the account of its humor AND quirkiness.
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Let’s face it, when you don’t win the top award at the Cannes International Film Festival and yet score the second most nominations at this year’s Oscars . . . you have to be doing something right. All film maneuvering aside though, The Artist was brilliantly conceived and executed by Hazanavicius. Sure he has great performers in Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo helping him out, but Hazanavicius is the guy that brought them in and is getting the performances that he wants out of them.
On everyone else:
- Alexander Payne: You would think that after how much I’ve been praising The Descendants you would think that I would pick Payne as the winner. Though I think the film is great and that Payne has crafted a well made film, I just don’t think his work is as good as Hazanavicius.
- Martin Scorsese: Though a wonderful film from many different angles: nostalgic story, very well made, and great special effects & 3D, none of the performances in Hugo were Oscar worthy–which really hurts Scorsese’s chances this time out.
- Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris is beloved by many and I’m sure hits a sweet spot with a number of Academy members, but it just doesn’t have the acting performances to carry it through. Also, with Allen putting out a film every year there may be some inclination to say that he just got lucky with this year’s film. As superficial as that sounds, it may have some credence.
- Did not view Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
Who WILL Win: Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Let’s face it, top to bottom the film was wholly conceived and produced by Hazanavicius and let’s also not fail to mention that it was a huge gamble to make into a silent film. Kudos to him. His work on The Artist definitely outshines Payne’s work on The Descendants–my runner up for the category. I also don’t think he has real competition from the two more well known directors in this field as both Scorsese and Allen already have Oscars for directing (Annie Hall for Allen and The Departed for Scorsese). History will hurt them as I just don’t see the Academy liking these films as much as the ones they won awards for. Finally, Hazanavicius also has this year’s Director’s Guild award for his work on The Artist and the director’s branch of the Academy will probably follow suit.
If you’re interested in checking out the Oscar nominated shorts, the live action ones that I talked about today or the animated ones, both are playing at Consolidated’s Kahala 8 Theatres with each group playing together as a set. Be sure to check showtimes as they are only playing at certain times.
That is going to wrap our Oscar Watch coverage leading up to Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. We won’t leaving you hanging though as we’ll be posting our edition of the ‘Best Films of 2011” over the weekend and have an Oscar wrap up for you on Monday. Be sure to stay tuned for more!
More Oscar Watch Reading . . .
Here’s more information out of the LATimes’ research on the demographics of the Academy. In this piece they look at and interview the Academy’s youngest members. [LATimes]
In today’s Advertiser, Mike Gordon fields Oscar predictions from professionals in the Hawaii film industry. Sadly it might be easier to read a hard copy version of the story since a subscription is required (but I’ll link anyway). [Star-Advertiser]
Finally, one more local assessment of this year’s Oscar race over at [I Adore Books & Film] blog.