Glenn here to discuss the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts. Much gets made year in year old about how the short categories are typically the hardest to predict. It’s a sentiment that bodes true for many reasons, although with the recent boost in popularity of the theatrically-released Oscar-nominated shorts programs “nobody’s seen them!” has gone out the window as an excuse. We used to have little to go on with these films and usually, by default, most people would predict the most serious sounding of the lot. A movie about WWII? Sure! A movie about political conflict? Why not! A movie about children with AIDS? Gosh, how can it lose? It’s simplistic, but sometimes the best method.
It’s rather impossible to do that this year since all five nominees deal with subject matter that is extremely Important with a capital I. I mean, the most upbeat of the lot is the one about suicide amongst war veterans for crying out loud! PTSD, dying mothers, incurably ill babies, the oil fields of America's Midwest and death in slaughterhouses – it is a miserable collection of nominees, which makes sussing out the winner a tricky prospect.
I find myself gravitating towards HBO’s Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. For starters, it’s the glossiest and most watchable of the lot. Secondly, and most importantly, because it’s subject matter – suicide prevention hotline operators dealing with war veterans – ties in perfectly with that of Best Picture nominee American Sniper. If voters can’t give that immensely popular film any big prizes, they may as well give this one the statue. I certainly see it as a more likely winner than either of the two Polish entries, one of which – Our Curse – may just go down as one of the saddest films ever made. Likewise, The Reaper from Mexico, which obnoxiously parades its grotesquery around in such a fashion that I can see many voters turning it off before the end credits. The final film, the second American entry called White Earth is relatively low key compared to the rest and will likely find itself overshadowed. Maybe the fact that it’s not entirely soul-crushing like the rest will give it a boost, but this year’s prize feels like HBO’s to lose.
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, dir. Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry (40mins)
Joanna, dir. Aneta Kopacz (45mins)
Our Curse, dir. Tomasz Śliwiński and Maciej Ślesicki (28mins)
The Reaper (La Parka), dir. Gabriel Serra Arguello (29mins)
White Earth, dir. J. Christian Jensen (20mins)
Will Win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Could Win: Joanna
Should Win: To be honest, I'm not entirely sold on either, but White Earth (above) is my favorite
Apart from in select cinemas, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is available on HBOGO.