The Academy branches have been furiously screening all sort of less heralded fare of late. Tim already talked us through the animated shorts and I'm most intrigued by the Chilean allegory about a bear ripped from his circus life and a film about Russian astronauts. But there's more to uncover!
Heads up that we've updated that shorts, animation, and documentary section of our famed Oscar Charts. Click over and read up on the fascinating competitions.
As with all things Oscar, the shorts categories do get more attention than they once did many moons ago -- particularly with that mini theatrical tour of the nominated films each year -- but it's still not much.
Live Action Shorts
This year we've got barbers shaving cartel leaders, interpreters delivering babies, nuns interrupted, little boys in big wars, father and daughter visits gone awry, and much more in the Live Action shorts category. There's even a title with Q'Orianka Kilcher from The New World (!!!) and Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men in the mix called Winter Light that bills itself as a "revisionist Western thriller". The ten finalists are quite a mix of types with thrillers, comedies, dramas, war films, and westerns accounted for.
This tends to be the category most likely to trigger massive depressive episodes and this year is no exception: war, ebola, war, honor killings, war, The Holocaust, rape, and did I mention war? I personally can't even deal. Not this particular season.
This category continues to feel sewn up for Inside Out but the real drama is "how many nominees will we get?" since there's less films eligible than usual. If they still go with five, do you think Peanuts can surprise?
I've been grilling members of the documentary branch over cocktails and light h'ors doeuvres at various parties of late. One charming older gentleman even pulled out a handwritten list of his favorites to read from only to pocket it again as if to torture me from suspense. High profile competitors (Amy, Going Clear, The Look of Silence, Best of Enemies) definitely have fans. Not that that means anything as this branch often surprises with both their finalist list and what gets shut out so nothing can be called "safe". But if something is safe maybe it's Cartel Land which has been name-checked with great frequency. Random shoutouts abound including Iris, Winter's on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, Where to Invade Next, and Meru. Sadly I haven't heard one mention of friskier / weirder critical darlings like The Wolfpack or Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog.