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!

(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
2015 Stutterer
2016 Sing

No precursors or anything like that. It’s pure guesswork.

Best Live-Action Short

DeKalb Elementary

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.

– – – – – – – – – –


One response

  1. lacourseauxetoiles

    I think DeKalb Elementary is definitely the most likely one of these to win.

    March 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.