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

18 February 2018

Oscar Nominations 2018: Part 7 of 12 (Live-action Short Films)

Back to Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, or Part 6.

The Eleven O'clock
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Derin Seale
Cast: Josh Lawson, Damon Herriman, Jessica Donoghue, Eliza Logan

This is cute, and it's the only comedic film in the bunch, so I don't really see how it can lose. The joke is that a psychiatrist has a patient who believes that he is a psychiatrist. Hilarity and confusion ensue. It's written like a clever little David Ives play, and its single joke works three or four times – if not the ten or twelve times that the filmmakers want it to work, but as I say, this is a successful little thing, if slight.
Will Win: Live-action Short Film
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #3 out of 5

The Silent Child
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Chris Overton
Cast: Rachel Shenton, Maisie Sly, Rachel Fielding, Anna Barry, Philip York, Sam Rees, Annie Cusselle

This is a very serious film about deaf children who are born to hearing parents and who are then left to fend for themselves at school, trained to read lips instead of learn sign language, etc. The filmmaking here is really excellent, and the acting is also quite good, but the film has something to say and so, while it promises intriguing plot developments at one point, The Silent Child ends up being a public service announcement that doesn't get under the skin and might as well be an essay or an article in the New York Times. This film has noble sentiments behind it, but as a film it's a clunker. Which obviously means, I think it is the runner up for the Oscar. It tugs at the heartstrings just enough to be the other real contender for the trophy on March 4.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #4 out of 5

Watu Wote: All of Us
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Katja Benrath
Cast: Adelyne Wairimu, Abdiwala Farrah, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Saada Mohammed, Mahad Ahmed, Charles Karumi

I liked this movie. This one, like The Silent Child, is trying to do a kind of public service announcement, bring-awareness-to-an-issue kind of thing. This is not good, but Watu Wote: All of Us is much more successful in doing what it's trying to do. Set on a bus between Nairobi and Somalia, the plot involves a Christian woman who hates Muslims and who learns a lesson when the bus is attacked by Al-Shabaab militiamen.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Live-action Short Film
My Rating: #2 out of 5

My Nephew Emmett
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Kevin Wilson Jr.
Cast: L.B Williams, Jasmine Guy, Dane Rhodes, Joshua Wright, Chris Steele, Ethan Leaverton, Dorian Davis

This is a movie about Emmett Till, but I wish it were also a good movie about Emmett Till. The filmmaker shoots the story beautifully, and he tries to give us a sense of the terror of life under Jim Crow, but instead My Nephew Emmett feels slow and, frankly, boring. Wilson knows we know what is about to happen, and so he spends time building up to the violent finish. This strikes me as an odd choice, especially considering the fracas surrounding the Dana Schutz painting at the Whitney Biennial this year. What many artists and other complained about, in regard to Schutz's (extraordinary) painting, is that reveling in black suffering and black pain is insensitive and perhaps unnecessary. I am not sure I agree in total with this line of thinking, but it was certainly running through my head as I watched Kathryn Bigelow's recent Detroit, and I was thinking about it again while I watched My Nephew Emmett. The main problem, however, with Wilson's film is that the lead actor, L.B. Williams, gives a decidedly odd performance, one that struck me as inept and just slightly off the entire time. Then again, this film also stars Jasmine Guy (!), and it might be worth watching just for her.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #5 out of 5

DeKalb Elementary
1 Nomination
  • Live-action Short Film
Director: Reed Van Dyk
Cast: Shinelle Azoroh, Bo Mitchell, Del Hunter-White, Cain Thomas

This is definitely my favorite of the five films. DeKalb Elementary is about an active shooter situation at an elementary school in Georgia. This film is superbly made. It builds tension perfectly, and even though the story is mostly simple, Van Dyk scares us over and over again, and we feel the terror of the situation acutely. I watched this movie in rapt attention. And Shinelle Azoroh, who plays the film's main character, is excellent. I don't think this movie will win; it's too good, really, and too serious to compete with the more audience-friendly films on the list. But this one is the best of the five.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 5