2019 Oscar Shorts — Live Action: Ranked and reviewed

2019 Oscar Shorts — Live Action

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The chilling setting of Oscar-nominated short “Mother.” — video still

Oscar season is upon us, and in previous years, I haven’t been really tuned in to movies that are nominated. But this year I’ve made a conscious effort to see as much as possible, including the live action short films. I didn’t know what to expect going into my screening for the shorts — whether it would be a be mixture of genres or focused in on one. To my surprise, a majority of the films were highly suspenseful; some have become favorites of the films I’ve seen in quite some time. I do think all of these shorts were exceptional, but here’s my ranking of the five of them and a brief overview of what I liked and disliked about each.

5. Fauve

Length: 17 mins

This short, directed by Canada’s Jeremy Comte, follows two boys as they play around in different locations. A horrible tragedy happens during their running around that shifts the tone completely.

I must say that the major event of this film, while shocking, didn’t do enough to completely win me over. I almost felt like I needed a bit more time with the two kids to be more connected with their relationship. The boys did give exceptional performances and made this feel very realistic.

This film is by no means bad. But when I look at the other four, this just didn’t have quite the same emotional punch.

4. Marguerite

Length: 19 mins

Out of the five, Marianne Farley’s Marguerite is by far the most different. This movie follows Marguerite, her caretaker and the relationship they have with one another. For a bit of the runtime, I wasn’t really sure where the movie was going. But once the big plot piece happens, I remember thinking, “Oh wow — I never saw that coming.” Some people in my showing didn’t respond very positively to the twist that happens, and I can definitely see this not landing with everybody. For me it worked, though. I thought the relationship between the two women was incredibly sweet and I was really touched by the message of this film.

3. Skin

Length: 20 mins

I enjoyed this film so much. And out of the bunch, this definitely had the most disturbing scene I’ve seen in a while. It’s hard to talk about the plot of Guy Nattiv’s Skin without giving anything way, but it touches on race and discrimination. I was very close to loving this movie, but I found the ending of it very unsatisfying. It almost felt like the creative team pumped the brakes a little bit too hard after the shocking scene happens. They should’ve kept pressing and pushing the story, because I feel like this could’ve been something incredibly special.

2. Detainment

Length: 30 mins

Detainment was the longest of the bunch, clocking in at 30 minutes. Vincent Lambe’s film is based on a true story that took place in Ireland in 1993, when two kids were detained on suspicion of murdering a young child. Can you say tension? My gosh this movie was absolutely filled to the brim with tension and suspense. The story swings back and forth between the two kids as they are questioned by the detectives on the case.

The thing that really drove this is how the two kids were reacting to the whole situation: One was having an emotional breakdown, and the other seemed like he didn’t care at all. They each had opposing answers; the whole time, the film keeps you wondering what really happened. The only negative I have with this film is I feel like it had a weak ending, which was a huge bummer because I could’ve watched entire feature length film about this story.

One thing I didn’t know while watching this movie is that Denise Fergus, the mother of the child who was murdered, is extremely opposed to this film being nominated for an Oscar (neither she nor the boy’s father was interviewed or consulted for the film). She believes Detainment is trying to be sympathetic towards the murderers, which I don’t believe it is. While she has every right to be upset, I do not think the Oscar nomination should be withdrawn.

1. Mother

Length: 19 mins

This film completely floored me. By the end of this, I was a huge bag of emotions.

Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Mother is about a Spanish mother who receives a call from her 6-year-old son, who’s stranded on a beach with a dying phone battery. His dad said he would be back for him but has been gone for a very long time. As this film goes on, you see what happens when a mom completely breaks down, uncertain if she is going to see her child again. And if her son being stranded on a beach in the middle of nowhere isn’t enough, a huge twist happens that makes the situation even more terrifying.

It was so hard to watch this one. Seeing a mother practically lose everything put me on the verge of tears. Everything about this film is masterful; it is a perfect example of how to do a thriller that makes you care about it’s characters.

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