(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Short Cuts 2020, Part 2: Oscar's Live Action Short Film Nominees

For the 15th year, ShortsTV presents this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films at a theater (starting January 29th) or streaming platform (starting February 4th) near you. These special programs are usually the only way for most movie fans to see all of these otherwise illusive short film nominees that can make or break your office Oscar pool. In the second of three parts, Movie Dearest takes a look at this year's five nominees for Best Live Action Short Film.

This year's nominees are a strong batch hailing from around the world (including two Tunisian co-productions, who knew) and from a mix of first time nominees and Oscar veterans, all hoping for their first win.

And the nominees are...

Brotherhood (a.k.a. Ikhwène), Meryam Joobeur & Maria Gracia Turgeon (Tunisia/Canada/Qatar/Sweden, 25 minutes), trailer.

A Tunisian farm family is shocked when the oldest son unexpectedly returns... with his new pregnant wife. A stark, well-modulated drama with an almost documentary-like feel from the Oscar nominated producer of last year's best in show Fauve; not as devastating as that one but pretty close.

MD Rating: 7/10

Nefta Football Club, Yves Piat & Damien Megherbi (France/Tunisia, 17 minutes), trailer.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Tunisia, two young brothers come across a donkey wearing headphones that turns out to literally be a drug mule. The only comedy in the bunch has proven to be quite the film fest fave, with over 20 awards. Even so, the ultimate punchline doesn't quite live up to the charming absurdity that precedes it.

MD Rating: 7/10

The Neighbors’ Window, Marshall Curry (USA, 20 minutes), trailer.

Maria Dizzia (Orange is the New Black) plays a stressed-out mother of three who finds herself obsessed with watching the free-spirited younger couple across the way from her. Based on a true story, this "grass is always greener" tale starts out the way you'd expect but evolves into an emotionally deep exploration of random connections.

MD Rating: 8/10

Saria, Bryan Buckley & Matt Lefebvre (USA, 23 minutes), trailer.

A dramatization of the dire hardships faced by the young women held at the Virgen de La Asuncion "Safe Home", a Guatemalan girl's orphanage where a a deadly fire in 2017 tragically claimed 41 of their lives. The harsh, hopeless reality is palatable, yet I can't help but think that this story may have been better served as a documentary.

MD Rating: 7/10

A Sister (a.k.a. Une Soeur), Delphine Girard (Belgium, 16 minutes), trailer.

An operator at a 911-like emergency hotline receives a call from a woman trapped in her kidnapper's moving car. Highly reminiscent of the 2018 Danish feature The Guilty, this mini-thriller succinctly and efficiently delivers on the suspense during its tight running time.

MD Rating: 8/10

Coming soon: Reviews of the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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