Oscars 2017 Category Breakdown: Best Live-Action Short
Every year, as we lead up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category; what the trends are, how the guilds and stuff help (or don’t), etc. I also do it as a precursor to my giant Oscar ballot. I get most of the heavy lifting out of the way here, so that way when I get to the article, I’m just kind of riffing on how I think it’ll turn out and talking myself into all the bad decisions. It’s like college. And this is the pregame.
How these articles work is — I give you all the previous winners and nominees of each of the categories, then tell you how accurate each of the respective guilds and precursors are in what they vote for versus what wins the Oscar, tell you how each of them voted this year, then give you this year’s category, along with a quick rundown of how we ended up with that category (what was a surprise, etc). After that, I rank each of this year’s nominees in terms of how I see them right now in terms of their likelihood to win. Which is nothing more than my perception (notice that underline, even though you won’t) of how the category seems at the moment based on everything I know and have seen. Which will give you a general sense of the favorites.
Today is Best Live-Action Short. The one category most people are guaranteed to know almost nothing about and have to rely on other people to figure out. Don’t worry, guys, I saw them all. I will be your sherpa.
|Year||Best Live-Action Short Winners|
|1931-1932||(Comedy) The Music Box
(Novelty) Wrestling Swordfish
|1932-1933||(Comedy) So This Is Harris!
|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|
|1959||The Golden Fish|
|1960||Day of the Painter|
|1961||Seawards the Great Ships|
|1963||An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge|
|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|
|1974||One-Eyed Men Are Kings|
|1975||Angel and Big Joe|
|1976||In the Region of Ice|
|1977||I’ll Find a Way|
|1979||Board and Care|
|1980||The Dollar Bottom|
|1982||A Shocking Accident|
|1983||Boys and Girls|
|1987||Ray’s Male Heterosexual Dance Hall|
|1988||The Appointments of Dennis Jennings|
|1990||The Lunch Date|
|1994||Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life|
|1995||Lieberman in Love|
|1997||Visas and Virtue|
|1999||My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York|
|2002||The Charming Man|
|2006||West Bank Story|
|2007||Le Mozart des Pickpockets|
|2009||The New Tenants|
|2010||God of Love|
|2014||The Phone Call|
No precursors or anything like that. It’s pure guesswork.
Best Live-Action Short
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us
I can’t even tell you how the category came to be. I don’t know. You don’t know. And nobody cares. So here’s what all five are about:
DeKalb Elementary — Inspired by an actual 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Eleven O’Clock — The delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes he is actually the psychiatrist. As they each attempt to treat each other the session gets out of control.
My Nephew Emmett — At 2:30AM on August 28, 1955 in the most racially divided state in the country, 64 year-old Mose Wright tries to protect his 14 year-old nephew Emmett Till from two racist killers out for blood. Based on the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Louis Till.
The Silent Child — The Silent Child centres around a profoundly deaf four year old girl named Libby who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.
Watu Wote/All of Us — For a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.
5. DeKalb Elementary — Something had to be fifth. This felt like the choice. Based on a true 911 call of a school shooting, but there’s no real tension there. You’re not really sure what the ultimate point of it all was and what message they’re trying to leave you with. I don’t know. Doesn’t feel like them, so let’s call this fifth, as much as school shootings are the topic du jour at the moment.
4. Watu Wote/All of Us — You have to go back a long way to see something like this having won. I went back twenty years, and no straight up tense thriller won this. The most recent Middle East-set film to win this category is West Bank Story, which is a comedy musical. They just don’t got for this, so I don’t see how it’ll be the choice. I’ll leave it fourth, even if this is one of the more affecting shorts in the category.
3. My Nephew Emmett — 50/50. Can’t tell what’ll happen with this. My gut says no, this won’t be the choice, but I also don’t know. Emmett Till is still resonant today, given the political climate. However, the short… not overly emotionally affecting. Just well-made. And it doesn’t fit what they normally go for. So it feels middle of the pack. It’s Live-Action Short, so remember — anything can win. I think this could be as much of a contender as any of the three I mentioned so far. But it doesn’t particularly gel with what they’ve chosen going back the past ten years. They like quirky, funny or children. Those are my three takeaways from what generally wins. So that said…
2. The Eleven O’Clock — This is the ‘funny’ short of the bunch. A psychiatrist comes into his office and his patient says he’s the real doctor. And an Abbott and Costello routine ensues, expounded by the fact that the usual receptionist is out and a temp is there, so she can’t even clear up the confusion. Very well done, definitely well-written, and even though the punchline that comes is expected, it works. It’s charming. I think this is definitely a contender and could end up being the winner in the end.
1. The Silent Child — This fits this category exactly. It is so emotionally effecting and really a beautiful little story. Not a guarantee that this wins, but man, is this something that should tug at the heartstrings of all the voters who see it. Gotta consider this the favorite all around. They love children, they love emotional endings, and I think they’re gonna love that there’s a cause behind this. Not only do I hope this wins, but it looks like it’s the favorite to do just that.
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