Oscars 2019: Best Live Action Short Shortlist

And now, Live Action Short, the other category nobody cares about. Because we’re never given a chance to see or care about the nominees (and other things, but we’ll be optimistic about it). They announced that 191 shorts qualified for the category, of which they’ve shortlisted ten, and we’ll get our category of five in the end.

Here are the Live Action Short nominees:

Brotherhood
The Christmas Gift
Little Hands
Miller & Son
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors’ Window
Refugee
Saria
A Sister
Sometimes, I Think about Dying

Let’s see which of these I can find now…

Brotherhood is on Vimeo. Look at that. So we can all just watch this right now. Off to a promising start.

My recommendation is that anyone reading this article that cares about these categories go watch all of these as soon as you possibly can. Because you never know when they’re gonna take these things down. They have this weird thing where they want to hide them from the public, should they possibly be nominated, rather than get people more excited about the category by having them get seen, which would allow people somewhat of a rooting interest if they’ve seen any of them. But hey, it’s the Academy, and they are pretty stupid a lot of the time.

If you don’t want to watch it, here’s what it’s about: “Mohamed is deeply shaken when his oldest son Malik re turns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife.”

The Christmas Gift. All I can find for this one is a trailer and a logline: “A son’s letter to Santa for Christmas turns his father’s evening into a thriller he did not ask for.”

Little Hands is also on Vimeo in full. The plot: “Leo, 2, is the son of the acting manager of a chemical plant. When employees find out that the direction is about to close the factory, Bruno, a more radical worker, kidnaps Leo to negotiate…”

Miller & Son. We got another one in full. That’s 3/4. Nice. The plot: “A transwoman mechanic lives between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night, until an unforeseen event threatens the balance of her compartmentalized life.”

Nefta Football Club. 4/5. This is awesome. Good for them for being out there and visible. More people will give a shit now. Plot: “In a Maroccan village, children play football on an improvise field. Meanwhile, Abdallah and Mohammed come across a donkey with a headphone on his hears and bags full of a white powder on his back. The two young brothers decide to bring those bags to their village.”

The Neighbor’s Window. Shit, another one. Plot: “It tells the story of a middle aged woman with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings move in across the street.” (Also of note, the director of this film is Marshall Curry, who has been nominated three times: twice in Doc Feature and again last year for A Night at the Garden in Doc Short. So he could legit have been nominated across three different categories after next month.

Refugee. This one was almost impossible to find. I’m still not 100% sure this is the film that was shortlisted. But it’s the only IMDB short that seems like it would fit. Good job, AMPAS, just releasing the goddamn title and not who made it. But apparently the plot of this is: “A Syrian doctor attempts to escape her war-ravaged homeland with her young daughter.” Omar Sy is in this. Apparently the director is a producer too. He produced Silence and Lone Survivor. Here’s a review that gives you a rundown of what happens in it. You can find a trailer here.

Saria. All I can find for this is a logline, not even a trailer: “SARIA explores the unimaginable hardships l that faced young female orphans at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala, leading up to the tragic fire which claimed 41 of their lives in 2017. We follow the story of two inseparable orphaned sisters – Saria 12, and her sister Ximena 14, as they fight against l mounting daily physical abuse at the very institution designed to protect them. In the sisters’ desperation for survival, they devise a daring plan of escape for all the orphans to find freedom in America.” (The director of this also directed The Bronze (the gymnastics comedy) and The Pirates of Somalia (that movie where the dude embeds himself with the pirates that Al Pacino is randomly in for whatever reason). Oh, and he directed Asad, which was nominated for Live Action Short in 2012.)

A Sister. Another one, all I can find is a logline: “A night. A car. Alie is in danger. To get by she must make the most important phone call of her life.” Oh, here’s a clip. I got it. That gives you a good idea of the film.

Sometimes I Think About Dying. Okay, we end with another one. We got 6/10. That’s not bad. The plot: “Fran likes to think about dying. When she makes a guy in the office laugh, he wants more – a movie date, a slice of pie, a conversation. But if dating him means learning to live, she’s pretty sure she can’t do that.”

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Okay, so having seen six of these…

Brotherhood was okay. Started slow, but there’s one good scene near the end. Little Hands was really all about the kid. They always say the most interesting thing on screen is a baby or a cat. The story is very slight there and I wish there was a bit more. Miller & Son was very solid. Nefta Football Club was fantastic. The Neighbor’s Window is just beautiful. The ‘twist’ if you will might turn some people off, but I really, really liked it. And Sometimes I Think About Dying is very much what would end up here. Very quirky indie likable.

Of the ones I haven’t seen — I can’t tell what The Christmas Gift is gonna be. If it has a cutesy ending, then it might be something they go for. Otherwise I just can’t tell. Refugee could also go either way. The big name actor in it… I don’t know how much that matters to them. A Sister… I feel like one of those gets shortlisted or nominated like every year. Literally last year was the one about the woman who gets the call from her child who is alone on a beach because the father just disappeared and never came back and it was a race against time. This seems like one of those. Are they gonna go back to (essentially) the same thing twice in a row? And Saria, that sounds like them, if they wanna go there.

If I’m gonna guess based on nothing how this is gonna go, I’d say Miller & Son is on. The trans narrative is probably too shiny for them to pass up. Plus it’s a solid short. Nefta Football Club has that punchline that they like here, and I think it could win. The Neighbor’s Window is just so them in every way. And Sometimes I Think About Dying has that quirkiness they like and the title is catchy enough that it could win/get votes based on that alone. I’m leaning toward those being on.

The Christmas Gift I’m not sure about. It could, but I also haven’t seen it or can guess where it goes. So I don’t know. Little Hands doesn’t amount to much, but maybe the mere presence of a child is enough to get that on. Brotherhood is solid, but I don’t know. 50/50. Saria also could make it on the director’s other short alone having made it on before. Refugee I know nothing about, so I can’t really say either way just now. And A Sister… I keep getting hung up on how similar it is to all the other ones I’ve seen just like it on previous shortlists. I know that illustrates a trend of something they go for, but I keep feeling like it’s a red herring.

So this would be my guess at the moment.

Miller & Son
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbor’s Window
Saria
Sometimes I Think About Dying

Alternate: Brotherhood

Dark Horse: Little Hands, The Christmas Gift

Surprise: Refugee, A Sister

And we’ll figure out the rest in a month.

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