Oscars 2015 Category Breakdown: Best Live-Action Short

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

We begin with Best Live-Action Short, because nobody cares about this category.

Year Best Live-Action Short Winners
1931-1932 (Comedy) The Music Box

(Novelty) Wrestling Swordfish

1932-1933 (Comedy) So This Is Harris!

(Novelty) Krakatoa

1934 (Comedy) La Cucaracha

(Novelty) City of Wax

1935 (Comedy) How to Sleep

(Novelty) Wings Over Everest

1936 (Color) Give Me Liberty

(One-Reel) Bored of Education

(Two Reel) The Public Pays

1937 (Color) Penny Wisdom

(One-Reel) The Private Life of the Gannets

(Two Reel) Torture Money

1938 (One-Reel) That Mothers Might Live

(Two Reel) Declaration of Independence

1939 (One-Reel) Busy Little Bears

(Two Reel) Sons of Liberty

1940 (One-Reel) Quicker’n a Wink

(Two Reel) Teddy, the Rough Rider

1941 (One-Reel) Of Pups and Puzzles

(Two Reel) Main Street on the March!

1942 (One-Reel) Speaking of Animals and Their Families

(Two Reel) Beyond the Line of Duty

1943 (One-Reel) Amphibious Fighters

(Two Reel) Heavenly Music

1944 (One-Reel) Who’s Who in Animal Land

(Two Reel) I Won’t Play

1945 (One-Reel) Stairway to Light

(Two Reel) Star in the Night

1946 (One-Reel) Facing Your Danger

(Two Reel) A Boy and His Dog

1947 (One-Reel) Good-Bye Miss Turlock

(Two Reel) Climbing the Matterhorn

1948 (One-Reel) Symphony of a City

(Two Reel) Seal Island

1949 (One-Reel) Aquatic House Party

(Two Reel) Van Gogh

1950 (One-Reel) Grandad of Races

(Two Reel) In Beaver Valley

1951 (One-Reel) World of Kids

(Two Reel) Nature’s Half Acre

1952 (One-Reel) Light in the Window: The Art of Vermeer

(Two Reel) Water Birds

1953 (One-Reel) The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture

(Two Reel) Bear Country

1954 (One-Reel) This Mechanical Age

(Two Reel) A Time Out of War

1955 (One-Reel) Survival City

(Two Reel) The Face of Lincoln

1956 (One-Reel) Crashing the Water Barrier

(Two Reel) The Bespoke Overcoat

1957 The Wetback Hound
1958 Grand Canyon
1959 The Golden Fish
1960 Day of the Painter
1961 Seawards the Great Ships
1962 Hereux Anniversaire
1963 An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
1964 Casals Conducts
1965 Le Poulet
1966 Wild Wings
1967 A Place to Stand
1968 Robert Kennedy Remembered
1969 The Magic Machines
1970 The Resurrection of Broncho Billy
1971 Sentinels of Silence
1972 Norman Rockwell’s World… An American Dream
1973 The Bolero
1974 One-Eyed Men Are Kings
1975 Angel and Big Joe
1976 In the Region of Ice
1977 I’ll Find a Way
1978 Teenage Father
1979 Board and Care
1980 The Dollar Bottom
1981 Violet
1982 A Shocking Accident
1983 Boys and Girls
1984 Up
1985 Molly’s Pilgrim
1986 Precious Images
1987 Ray’s Male Heterosexual Dance Hall
1988 The Appointments of Dennis Jennings
1989 Work Experience
1990 The Lunch Date
1991 Session Man
1992 Omnibus
1993 Black Rider
1994 Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life
1995 Lieberman in Love
1996 Deer Diary
1997 Visas and Virtue
1998 Election Night
1999 My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York
2000 Quiero ser
2001 The Accountant
2002 The Charming Man
2003 Two Soldiers
2004 Wasp
2005 Six Shooter
2006 West Bank Story
2007 Le Mozart des Pickpockets
2008 Spielzeugland
2009 The New Tenants
2010 God of Love
2011 The Shore
2012 Curfew
2013 Helium
2014 The Phone Call

You’ll notice that I only listed previous winners and not previous nominees. This was for two reasons. First, no one cares about the previous nominees. It’s not like we’re gonna seek them all out. Plus, it doesn’t matter what was nominated each year, only what won. We look at previous winners to try to make sense of the category, which is typically impossible to do anyhow. This is traditionally the most difficult category to pick and is the one the most people are likely to look at and pick randomly, because they don’t know what the nominees are and don’t care about the category at all.

This year’s category is:

Best Live-Action Short

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay

Shok

Stutterer

I remember guessing all five of these. That was cool.

But still, this is always the most treacherous category for me every year. So we’ll see if we can work our way through it.

Ave Maria is about a bunch of Israelis who break down and need the help of five nuns in order to get their car fixed. I think the joke is that the nuns have taken a vow of silence and the Sabbath is going on, so the Israelis can’t use the phone. So hilarity ensues.

Day One is about an army interpreter, who on her first day has to help deliver the child of a bomb-maker whose wife has gone into labor.

Everything Will Be Okay is about a divorced father picking up his daughter for the day. It seems like he eventually tries to take her to prevent her mother from having custody, and ends in a heartbreaking way.

Shok is about two boys, one Serbian and one Albanian, on the opposite sides of conflict, who are friends. And apparently this is the nominee most likely to bring everyone to tears.

Stutterer is about a guy with a stutter who tries to get the words out but cannot. He’s had an online relationship with a woman and is worried what will happen when he sees her in person.

Rankings:

5. Ave Maria — This is the comic entry. There’s often one of these that gets on, but it never wins. Clearly your #5. They enjoy these but never vote for them.

4. Everything Will Be Okay — This sounds heartbreaking, but it doesn’t sound like the right type of heartbreaking to win. Especially with the other three entries on this list. They’re willing to go with depressing, as evidenced by The Phone Call’s win last year. So this definitely can win. But against the other three, I’m not fully feeling this one.

3. Day One — War, baby being born, overcoming borders… there’s a lot for them to like here. But the one thing that’s holding me back is that the other two seem closer to what they usually go for here. So I’ll keep this third for now, and say it absolutely could win. I need to see them all before I start making real decisions.

2. Stutterer — It has that cute, quirky, indie feel they like. God of Love fit that mold. They don’t always go this way, but with three fully depressing entries on this list, if they decide they want something lighter, this is where they’ll go. So I’m gonna put this second and wait to see how good it is. But in the end, I’m thinking this will be my choice for what’s going to win.

1. Shok — I hear this brought a lot of people who saw it to tears. It has kids, which they like, and a war setting. If this is good, then I can absolutely see this winning. The only thing stopping it will be if it’s too depressing for them and they want to go for something lighter. Otherwise this sounds like the film that should be the favorite right now.

This is all based on my thoughts right now. I will see these for sure over the next month, and I will update my feelings after I see them. Typically I can get a good sense after I see all the nominees which way they’d lean. Right now, I’m thinking it’s either the gut punch of Shok or the uplifting indie-ness of Stutterer.

– – – – – – – – – –

So that’s Live-Action Short.

Tomorrow, we continue with the second category the least amount of people care about, Best Documentary – Short Subject. At least that one is eminently pickable, and a lot of times, obvious.

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