Monday, April 12, 2021

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Documentary Short

The nominees:
Colette (B+)
A ninety-year-old French woman decides to visit a Nazi concentration camp for the first time in tribute to her brother, a member of the French resistance, who was killed there. The bond she forms with a young student and museum docent is powerful and affecting, and its lessons of resilience continue to be relevant. Watch it now on the Guardian.

A Concerto Is a Conversation (B+)
A musician talks to his grandfather about the many experiences he had in his life that contributed to his love of music and to his need to express what he encountered and went through in an artistic manner. It’s a very sweet and touching film that feels incredibly intimate, a simple conversation between a grandfather and his grandson shared warmly with an audience. Watch it now via The New York Times.

Do Not Split (B+)
In a year filled with news-making protests all around the world, this short focuses on Hong Kong and the rights of protesters to gather and have their voices heard. Its classification of masks as a way to hide one’s identity rather than to protect others due to coronavirus is intriguing in our current moment, but it only adds to the effectiveness of this harrowing and urgent film. Watch it now on Field of Vision.

Hunger Ward (B+)
This spotlight on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is certainly one of the most difficult and disturbing watches in this category, showing young children who weigh troublingly little. Its portrayal of the brave, hard work of the staff and the somehow-existent optimism of the literally starving patients is a forceful call to action. Watch it now on Pluto TV.

A Love Song for Latasha (B)
This tribute to a Black girl killed at the age of fifteen in 1992, shortly before the Los Angeles riots, is poetic and heartfelt, honoring her memory and challenging the system that could allow a teenager to be killed over a bottle of orange juice. It’s less structured overall than the rest, but still very moving. Watch it now on Netflix.

Previous winners: Period. End of Sentence., Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, The White Helmets, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, The Lady in Number 6, Inocente
For your information: This is the first Oscar nomination for all filmmakers here except “Hunger Ward” director Skye Fitzgerald, who contended two years ago for his previous short “Lifeboat.” Only “Hunger Ward” was in the running for the Critics Choice Documentary Award prize, where it lost to a nominee in this category last year, “St. Louis Superman.”

Who should win: These are all strong. I think for me the most memorable were “A Concerto is a Conversation” and “Do Not Split.”
Who will win: In general, this category doesn’t always reward positivity, and therefore I think “Hunger Ward” could win, but I’ll choose A Concerto is a Conversation instead.

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