Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

11 February 2017

Oscar Noms 2017: 8 of 13 (Live-action Short Films)

Part 1 - La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival
Part 2 - Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion
Part 3 - Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie
Part 4 - Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, Rogue One
Part 5 - Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, A Man Called Ove
Part 6 - Captain Fantastic, Elle, Loving, Nocturnal Animals
Part 7 - The Lobster, 20th Century Women, Silence, Hail, Caesar!

Part 8:

La Femme et le TGV
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Timo von Gunten
Cast: Jane Birkin, Lucien Guignard, Mathieu Bisson, Manuela Biedermann, Gilles Tschudi

This is a charming fairy tale, but its pleasures were mostly lost on me because... this is yet another film about an old curmudgeon who learns to be a nice person and stop being such an old pill. She's living in the past and learns to come haltingly into the modern world. It's a story you have heard before about a thousand times. Still, La Femme et le TGV has lots to recommend. It moves nicely and its lead actress is Jane Birkin (for whom the famous Hermès bag is named) so lots of Academy members will be predisposed to love it.
Will Win: Live-action Short Film
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #4 out of 5

Mindenki (Sing)
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Kristóf Deák
Cast: Dóra Gáspárvalvi, Dorka Hais, Zsófia Szamosi

Young Zsófi joins a new school and makes a friend, but really wants to sing in the choir. When she joins, though, she runs up against an unsuspected snag. Mindenki is really clever. And it also has a beautifully unexpected twist at its end. I adored it. Furthermore, this is a story of young girls and friendship that isn't about young girls being mean to one another, but is instead about dealing with an awful teacher.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #3 out of 5

Silent Nights
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Aske Bang
Cast: Malene Beltoft Olsen, Prince Yaw Appiah, Vibeke Hastrup, Ali Kazim, Hassana Sampah

This one is just awful. But every year we are treated to at least one film with white saviors solving the problems of the developing world. Academy voters seem to love this kind of bullshit. I don't get it. This Danish film is about a young woman who falls in love with a homeless Ghanaian man. She's basically a kind of saint, and she helps her new lover Kwame get on his feet financially. Silent Nights – aside from having nothing to do with either the song "Silent Night" or silence or night or Christmas or infants sleeping in heavenly peace – is also a ridiculously contrived piece of filmmaking. It has about four surprise reversals in its 30 minutes, and none of them makes much sense in relation to the real world. Is this a movie about laborers from the developing world coming to Europe to earn money? Is this a film about a lonely, rich white woman? Is this a story of cross-cultural love and understanding? Silent Nights manages to say nothing about any of these things.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #5 out of 5

Timecode
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Cast: Lali Ayguadé, Pep Domenech, Vicente Gil, Nicolas Ricchini

Magic. This is silly and surprising and funny. It also manages to be romantic and rather sexy. Timecode was the second best of the bunch, but its shorter running time will make it seem less substantial to voters. Timecode is also a quirky film, which makes it great fun to watch but won't help it win any awards. Still, I'm delighted I saw this. And it is worth saying, too, that this year's live-action shorts are much, much better than last years. This is a pretty great selection. In any case, I look forward to Juanjo Giménez Peña's next movie. I expect we will see some great things from him.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #2 out of 5

Ennemis Intérieurs (Internal Enemies)
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Sélim Azzazzi
Cast: Hassam Ghancy, Najib Oudghiri, Stéphane Perrichon

Azzazzi's film is about a French Algerian teacher who is applying (after living many years in France) for French citizenship. The movie is his interrogation by an inquisitor who is asking him questions about his nationality, his family, his friends, Islam, etc. It's interrupted by flashes of memory and images from the man's past. This movie is very smart. A characteristic exchange from early in the film: Inquisitor: "You said you were born in France but this says you were born in Algeria." Applicant: "I am in my sixties. When I was born Algeria was France." This kind of difficult, intelligent discussion of what it means to be European, a citizen, and subject to French state power is enjoyable from start to finish. Ennemis Intérieurs is even further complicated by the ethical questions it asks about aligning oneself with the state in order to gain various advantages. I loved this movie and can't recommend it enough. This was easily my favorite of the five movies, but judging from the response in the movie theatre, this was the audience's least favorite. (They were applauding the films after they were over – who does that? – but applause for this one was slow to start and never really took off.)
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 5

Back to:
Part 1 - La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival
Part 2 - Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion
Part 3 - Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Jackie
Part 4 - Florence Foster Jenkins, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, Rogue One 
Part 5 - Deepwater Horizon, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, A Man Called Ove
Part 6 - Captain Fantastic, Elle, Loving, Nocturnal Animals
Part 7 - The Lobster, 20th Century Women, Silence, Hail, Caesar!