Saturday, February 25, 2017

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Documentary Short

The competition:
Extremis (B+)
This harrowing, heartbreaking film follows several patients in a hospital who are at the end of their lives. Unable to move and in some cases unable to communicate, the decisions are left to family members, who display incredible strength in their interactions with the doctors who face this kind of thing on a daily basis. It’s very well-done and extremely difficult to watch.

4.1 Miles (B)
This “Op-Doc” from the New York Times, which can be viewed online at their site, actually tackles the same topic as a feature documentary nominee this year, “Fire at Sea.” This take is set on a Greek Island during the European migrant crisis and serves as a more focused, and more upsetting, look at the difficult life of refugees.

Joe’s Violin (B+)
Count this one in as this year’s uplifting pick that still may have audiences reaching for the tissue box. A Holocaust survivor’s donation of the violin that he acquired in Poland at the end of the war turns out to be a wonderful new opportunity for a 12-year-old charter student in the Bronx. This is a heartwarming and deeply affecting about a truly unexpected and sweet connection. Watch it online for yourself!

Watani: My Homeland (B)
One of two movies about Syria, this one takes its central characters out of their native country as they are granted refugee entry into Germany. The juxtaposition of the youngest daughter carrying around a gun in their home in Aleppo and starting a new life, accepted by German children, in a new place, is powerful, and this film has its moments like that.

The White Helmets (A-)
If ever there was a topic that was relevant, it’s this one. At a time when Syrian refugees are no longer being admitted to the United States, this enormously compelling spotlight on those who stay in Syria and volunteer to run back into danger to rescue those who have been hurt any time violence occurs is truly astounding and inspiring.

Previous winners: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, The Lady in Number 6, Inocente, Saving Face, Strangers No More, Music by Prudence, Smile Pinki

Who should win: “Extremis” and “Joe’s Violin” are both effective in their own ways, but I think that “The White Helmets” is on a whole different level.
Who will win: I can’t imagine how this doesn’t go to The White Helmets, but any of these could feasibly win.

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