The three Short Film categories - Documentary, Live Action and Animation - usually tend to be built-in bathroom breaks for many who watch the Oscars telecast each year. Many of these films are usually inaccessible to the masses, so they just seem like filler in an already over-stuffed broadcast.
But nowadays, in the age of digital media, these Short Films are being seen by more people than ever before. In fact, you would be blown away - like, seriously - if you saw the amazing achievements taking place in these "lesser" categories.
Years back, they began screening the nominates Short Films for theater audiences (each year in Detroit, for example, screenings are held at the Detroit Film Theater at the DIA). In my household, when these categories are announced on Oscar night, they contain the most suspense, because they are also the less-talked about beforehand and therefore, the winning announcement holds much more excitement than even some of the more predictable "bigger" categories.
Even with the Oscars coming up on Sunday, there is still time to see these wonderful films (click here). For those filling out Oscar Ballots or competing in office pools, here are my predictions for the three Short Film Categories:
Short Film - Documentary. Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall is an HBO doc that tells the story from inside a maximum security prison, about a terminally ill inmate. Karama Has No Walls is a brutal doc set in Yemen's capital, about a peaceful protest that turned violent. The lighter Cavedigger chronicles an incredibly interesting man whose joy in life comes from carving out intricate cave dwellings for the world's elite. Facing Fear is an unbelievable story about how a gay man who is brutally beaten by a Neo-Nazi, randomly encounters his attacker later in life and then befriends him. But of all of these compelling tales, it is the heart-warming, inspirational tear-jerker called The Lady In Number 6, about a 109 year-old Holocaust survivor who shares her amazing story. Sadly, the film's subject, Alice Herz Sommer, just passed away only a few days ago at the age of 110. That tragedy won't factor into the voting, but on its own it should win the gold.
Short Film - Live Action. Do I Have To Take Care Of Everything? is a very-short Short that is laugh-out loud funny, about a family rushing to make it to a wedding. Just Before Losing Everything was my personal favorite of the bunch, about a woman trying to flee with her children before her abusive husband catches wind of it. Helium is a very sad story about a terminally ill boy befriended by a janitor who gives him hope. But the Oscar will come down to one of two films: Either That Wasn't Me, a tragic, graphic story about an African child soldier and a Spanish doctor, or The Voorman Problem, a comedy about an inmate who believes he is a god and the psychologist tasked with diagnosing him. Even though I've gone back and forth, my gut tells me that That Wasn't Me will probably win, since it is so much more impactful and resonating.
Short Film - Animation. Feral is an animated short about a wild boy found in the woods and brought back to civilization. It features maybe the most distinctive animation style, but I don't think it will win. Then there is Possessions, a strange film from Japan that was way over my head, apparently, and by far the weakest of all of the entries. Room On the Broom is a very good adaptation of the popular children's book, but Mr. Hublot is my favorite of all of them, a story about a character afraid of the outside world who befriends a pet and has his world changed forever. Despite its simple brilliance, Mr. Hublot will still probably come up short when compared to Get A Horse!, a very inventive Mickey Mouse tale that mixes the use of traditional and computer-generated animation from Walt Disney Animation. It features the actual voice of Uncle Walt himself, who also just so happens to be the winning-est human being in the history of the Academy Awards. I think he's going to win another one.
Join me again tomorrow as my week of Oscar predictions continues. I'll be discussing the Best Animated, Foreign Language and Documentary films. Thursday I will look at all of the acting categories followed by my break-down of the Best Picture category on Friday. Of course, this all leads into the Oscars on Sunday, March 2.
Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.