Short Gems Of Oscar

The Oscar dust has settled, and I thought I’d share something with you that I managed to do this year that I’d not done in years gone by.  No, not the fact that I managed to score horrendously in my Oscar picks, but the fact that I managed to watch all of the films nominated for Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short.

Now, these are usually the categories that you randomly select a winner based on how cool the names sounds, but we rarely pay any more attention to them than that.  For the last few years, Magnolia Pictures have released the nominations for short films at art-house cinemas in the weeks leading up to the Oscars.  You either watch all the animated films, or all the live action ones.  I managed to get to see the animated movies the week before the Oscars, and I finally got to see the live action ones courtesy of iTunes, which had all 10 of the shorts available for download at $1.99 per film.

I was absolutely blown away by the quality, production values, acting, directing – everything to do with these films.  Unfortunately, I think our minds can be twisted into thinking that short films are low-budget movies that we can afford to miss.  I would encourage you to check some of the films out from this year’s nominations – they will be released on DVD at some point, but the iTunes option is certainly worth checking out if you enjoy watching stuff on your iPod, or have it connected up to your TV.  I’ve listed the films below, in my own order of preference:

Animated Shorts:

“Peter and the Wolf” (32:34):  The longest of the animated nominees, featuring stop-motion animation, is an absolute gem.  Following the common storyline of the tale, with a few twists, the film succeeds because there are no vocals, with just the glorious animation and Prokofiev’s masterpiece guiding the film.  It throws you through a range of emotions in the 30 minutes, and thoroughly deserved the nod for the statue.

“Even Pigeons Go To Heaven” (8:38): Hilarious CGI about a priest trying to sell an elderly man a machine which he promises will transport him to heaven (French w/English subtitles)

“Madame Tutli-Putli” (17:44):  Another silent stop-motion animated film, this follows a woman boarding and riding a mysterious train.  Incredibly creepy, the animators used shots of real eyes to bring the characters to life.  Certainly leaves you puzzled at the end, and a little hesitant to give it a second viewing.

“I Met The Walrus” (5:08):  Using the tape-recording of a 14-year old boy who snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in 1969, we hear this brief ‘interview’ combined with clever pencil-drawn animation of what might have been going through the mind of the boy during the interview.

“My Love” (26:26):  A love story that comes to life in the styling of an animated oil-painting.  A little slow, but stunningly animated. (Russian w/English subtitles)

Live Action Shorts:

“The Tonto Woman” (34:55):  Production values that come close to the likes of There Will Be Blood, this film really did blow me away.  Luscious cinematography, and an engrossing story of a cattle rustler who meets a woman being held captive by her husband and lifestyle.  A stunning achievement, and criminal that it didn’t take the Oscar.

“Tanghi Argentini” (13:25):  A beautiful story about a man who must learn to dance the tango in 2 weeks when he will meet his blind date. (French w/English subtitles)

“At Night” (38:33):  An exploration of illness, death, friendship and family that is guaranteed to get the tear glands working.  Yep, made me cry on the plane.  ‘Nuff said. (Danish w/English subtitles)

“Mozart Of The Pickpockets” (30:25):  The eventual winner in this category, this is a fun movie, certainly worth the watch, about a deaf homeless boy who ‘learns’ the trade of pickpocketing, but should never have pipped The Tonto Woman to the Oscar. (French w/English subtitles)

“The Substitute” (17:31):  Another fun movie, following a substitute teacher harassing his students, with a few twists to boot.  They could have done a little more with the ending, but still a very enjoyable experience.  (Italian w/English subtitles)

So there you go, 10 great little movies that could.  Treat yourselves and watch a few . . .

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~ by eddie on March 6, 2008.

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