Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Short Cuts 2023, Part 3: Oscar's Documentary Short Film Nominees

For the 18th year, ShortsTV presents this year's Academy Award nominated animated, live action and documentary short films where they should be seen, at a theater near you (watch the trailer here). In the last of three parts, Movie Dearest takes a look at this year's five nominees for Best Documentary Short Film.

And the nominees are...


The Elephant Whisperers, Kartiki Gonsalves & Guneet Monga (India, 40 min.), trailer.

In South India a couple find love and healing when they become the caretakers of two orphan  elephants. Gorgeous scenic photography highlights this heartwarming crowd-pleaser. It's hard to resist a pair of lovable baby animals but the title couple give them a run for their money in adorableness.

Oscar connection: (Not so) little Raghu and Ammu join such other Oscar nominated pachyderms as Dumbo, Billy Rose's Jumbo and Goliath II.

MD Rating: 8/10


Haulot, Evgenia Arbugaeva & Maxim Arbugaev (UK/Russia, 25 min.), trailer.

A marine biologist stationed in the remote Siberian Arctic tracks the effects of climate change on walruses. Featuring the jump start of the year when our hero wakes up to find his desolate shack completely surrounded by 95,000 tusked marine mammals; otherwise your basic modern nature doc.

MD Rating: 6/10


How Do You Measure a Year?, Jay Rosenblatt (US, 29 min.), trailer.

Beginning at age 2, the filmmaker films his daughter answering questions every year on her birthday. If the artwork for this title above looks amateurish, than it is the perfect representation for the actual production, more of a home movie uploaded to YouTube than an actual documentary, despite its Boyhood-esque gimmick.

Oscar connection: Rosenblatt was nominated last year in this category for When We Were Bullies.

MD Rating: 4/10


The Martha Mitchell Effect, Beth Levison & Anne Alvergue (US, 40 min.), trailer.

The most fascinating Watergate figure you've never heard of (well, until this), Martha was the outspoken wife of Nixon's attorney general, so she knew some secrets and wasn't afraid to talk about it... until she couldn't. An engrossing exploration of the truth and how to silence it.

Oscar connection: Watergate has figured into the plot of several Oscar-nominated and -winning films, including All the President's Men, Nixon, Forrest Gump, Frost/Nixon and The Post.

MD Rating: 8/10


Stranger at the Gate, Joshua Seftel & Conall Jones (US, 29 min.), trailer.

An embittered marine's plot to bomb a local mosque changes when he meets the people he intends to kill. More like Stranger Than Fiction; this is the kind of story that could only believably happen in real life. Which makes the filmmakers' choice to tell it in a staid, sedate way all the more baffling.

MD Rating: 5/10

Coming soon: A Movie Dearest annual tradition: "If We Picked the Oscars".

Click here for part one, with reviews of the Animated Short Film nominees. Click here for part two, with reviews of the Live Action Short Film nominees.

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


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