Glenn here again, and as if yesterday’s look at the Best Documentary Short category didn’t prove it, there really aren’t any hard and fast rules when predicting the short categories. In live action short especially they go with serious issues, except when they don’t. They frequently go foreign, except when they don't. They're not overly thrilled with big stars or Hollywood directors, except when they are. It’s all a bit of a gamble, really. This year’s contenders, however, seem a little easier to decipher in terms of what has the potential to win and what hasn’t a hope in hell. Sorry, Butter Lamp, but I think that means you. You will always be my winner.
Aya, dir. Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis (40mins)
Boogaloo and Graham, dir. Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney (14mins)
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak), dir. Hu Wei and Julien Féret (16mins)
Parvaneh, dir. Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger (24mins)
The Phone Call, dir. Mat Kirkby and James Lucas (21mins)
Right now it seems pretty hard to look past The Phone Call given it stars an Oscar nominee (Sally Hawkins) and an Oscar winner (Jim Broadbent) and is emotional in ways that many will find belies its 20-minute runtime. Despite the curio factor of both doc and live action short Oscars potentially both going to films about suicide prevention hotline operators, I still feel rather confident over that prediction. It's certainly feels like a more complete film than, say, Boogaloo and Graham, which has wisps of nostalgia floating through its brief runtime and its cute children with pet chickens, but feels relatively light-weight compared to the rest (it gets to The Troubles right in its final shot, which seems like a more logical place to begin, but maybe that's just me).
I was a fan of Parvaneh about an Afghani girl in Switzerland and her friendship with a partying street kid, which feels like the most likely usurper to the throne given the Academy has shown an affinity towards films that bridge between the races. Maybe my hatred of the Israeli nominee Aya is clouding my judgement on that one, but what I do know for certain is that the best of an okay bunch is the sublime Butter Lamp, set in Tibet and focusing on a nomadic photographer who arrives in a village and who, in vignette form, has to deal with locals for whom photography isn't that common. It's wonderfully observed and it's an amazing example of how a film can thrill with restraint. I audibly gasped in the final shot despite it being so very simple. If it pulls a highly unlikely win out of the hat then I will scream with joy, but I think it's impressive festival haul (plus win at the Golden Horse Awards) will have to suffice.
Will Win: The Phone Call
Could Win: Parvaneh
Should Win: Butter Lamp