Thursday, February 21, 2019

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Live Action Short

The nominees:
Detainment (B-)
This thirty-minute recreation of the interrogation of two young boys suspected in the disappearance and murder of a three-year-old is immensely disturbing, and becomes even more so as their secrets unfold. While the performances of young actors Ely Solan and Leon Hughes are excellent, the film feels disjointed thanks to its editing, and the subject matter is remarkably unpleasant. It also appears that both the victim’s mother and the detective who investigated the case aren’t happy that these horrifying true events were dramatized and now contending for an award.

Fauve (C-)
Historically, films about friends nominated in this category never turn out too well for those involved. This Canadian tale of two boys playing around in an empty mine turns bleak quickly when one of them makes clear that he’s not joking and is actually drowning in quicksand. This is a miserable film without too many redeeming qualities, begging the question of why it is that such serious, depressing films always seem to make up the majority of the nominees in this category each year.

Madre (C+)
This film’s own summary describes it as “every parent’s nightmare,” as a Spanish woman receives a phone call from her six-year-old son telling her that he has been abandoned alone on a beach somewhere in France by his father. It’s difficult not to be drawn in and captivated by the plight of this mother desperate to find and comfort her son, but, like most of these films, it’s an experience that feels needlessly dark, and a bit too prone to fanciful visual editing.

Marguerite (B)
This is the only moderately pleasant or optimistic film in the bunch, meeting a French woman and her nurse during their daily interactions. Marguerite’s curiosity about her nurse Rachel’s romantic relationship helps her think back about events in her own life. Not too much happens here, but it’s nice to see a relationship built on true equality and respect in contrast to everything else in this field.

Skin (C)
The only American entry in this bunch is actually the most horrific, following a ten-year-old white boy whose friendly exchange with a black man in a supermarket leads to a slew of hateful violence. As a commentary on sentiments fueling the nation at this moment in time, this film might be effective, but its presentation is so off-putting and brutal that it’s hard to digest. The presence of recognizable actors like Jonathan Tucker from “Justified,” Danielle Macdonald from “Paradise Hills,” and Lonnie Chavis from “This Is Us” only adds to the discomfort.

Previous winners: The Silent Child, Sing, Stutterer, The Phone Call, Helium, Curfew, The Shore

For your information: This is the first nomination for all directors and produced involved on these five projects.

Who should win: I had heard that these films were all so dark, and it’s completely true. The lone ray of moderate sunshine – “Marguerite” – is my clear choice.
Who will win: Optimism has to prevail somehow here, even if there are powerful elements in the other options. I could sort of see “Detainment” or “Fauve” winning, but I’m betting on Marguerite.

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