Ranking the Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts

Let me start off by saying I hate reviewing short films. They just aren’t my thing. Character development is usually lacking for obvious reason, and the stories told typically don’t speak to me.

5. Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)

In this film that is about nothing, two photographers take pictures of villagers in a remote Tibetan town. The camera doesn’t move, nothing of meaning is discussed and I ended up fast-forwarding through chunks so as not to waste my time. Simply confounding that this one was nominated.

4. Boogaloo and Graham

Two brothers help raise a pair of chickens in this heartwarming little movie. There’s not a whole lot to it than that, for better or for worse. While mildly enjoyable, there’s not a lot to sink your teeth into here. But I am suddenly hungry for a chicken burger.

3. The Phone Call

Sally Hawkins stars as a crisis hotline worker who receives a call from a suicidal man, voiced by Jim Broadbent. The two carry on a conversation as the woman attempts to stop the man from killing himself. While touching, The Phone Call didn’t really resonate with me–and having just watched an Oscar-nominated documentary short on the same topic, it really paled in comparison.

2. Parvaneh

An Afghani teenager (?) who has immigrated to Switzerland ventures into town to wire some money to her family. But lacking proper identification, she is rejected, causing her to seek help from a complete stranger–which in turn introduces her to a whole different side of Western culture. While not particularly deep, the movie is arguably the most entertaining and accessible film of the bunch.

1. Aya

An Israeli woman is mistaken for a chauffeur at an airport and she goes along with the mistake, intrigued by her sophisticated “client.” As the two drive to his destination, they bond, romance a possibility. Well acted, well crafted and the perfect length, Aya is an entertaining and oddly thrilling drama.

Though I found The Phone Call to be a bit of a cheat–it stars an Oscar nominee and an Oscar winner–I could see that one taking home gold.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Awards & Oscars, Drama Movies