The Oscar Live Action And Animated Shorts

The pint-sized Oscar nominees you may have missed...

In all the hoopla about Best Picture, Best Actor etc, the Short Film categories sometimes get overlooked. So to redress that balance, we thought we’d take a look at the Best Live Action and Best Animated Shorts this year, and give you a chance to form an educated opinion on the small but perfectly formed nominees...



French Roast BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

A nicely farcical comedy, this finds a businessman stopping for coffee in a cafe, only to discover he’s misplaced his wallet. That results in frantic attempts to stave off the bill so he can gather the money to pay it. Joubert makes his directing debut with this film, but he’s already worked as an animator for DreamWorks and Aardman on films including Shark Tale, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away and the forthcoming Despicable Me.

DIRECTOR: FABRICE JOUBERT
COUNTRY: FRANCE
RUNNING TIME: 8 minutes


Granny O' Grimm's Sleeping Beauty BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Fairy tales meets ageism in this short, as Granny O'Grimm transforms a comforting fairytale into a horror-strewn nightmare when giving her granddaughter a bedtime story. You'll never think about the story of Sleeping Beauty quite the same way again - that, or you'll never sleep again: the ending is like Freddy Krueger for tots. We particularly liked the storybook-style animation for the tale itself, in contrast with the CG world of the storyteller and her victim audience.

DIRECTOR: NICKY PHELAN
COUNTRY: IRELAND
RUNNING TIME: 6 minutes


The Lady And The Reaper BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

A hilarious little tale with a darkly comic edge. A little old lady shuffles off the mortal coil to be met by Death. But then she's dragged back to life by a smooth, preening doctor. A battle for her immortal soul ensues, and the plot bounces around into Chuck Jones territory. It's Recio Gracia's very first film, and fits in with the aging / death theme that seems so popular in short animated films (see Granny O'Grimm this year, and also last year's This Way Up).

DIRECTOR: JAVIER RECIO GRACIA
COUNTRY: SPAIN
RUNNING TIME: 8 minutes


Logorama BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

This is a really creative one: a version of Los Angeles made up entirely of corporate logos, right down to the people. Bu there's a criminal on the loose (Ronald McDonald) and the police will have to stop him. How Schmerkin and his team (who took four years to craft it) got away with repurposing so many logos without permission we'll never know, but we love the result. Trivia note: David Fincher voices the Pringles guy.

DIRECTOR: NICOLAS SCHMERKIN
COUNTRY: USA
RUNNING TIME: 16 minutes


Wallace & Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Wallace and Gromit's latest comedy thriller isn't fully online, since it's out on DVD and most of us probably watched it on Christmas Day in 2008, but there's a clip to be found. Nick Park has a bit of history with the Oscars: he's won four of them (three for previous Wallace & Gromit outings and one for Creature Comforts), so he's got to be a favourite to take home another statuette on the night. And for the bit with the ducks / nuns alone, this deserves some plaudits.

DIRECTOR: NICK PARK
COUNTRY: UK
RUNNING TIME: 30 minutes

Watch the full movie here

The Door BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Door opens with a man called Nikolai stealing the door of the title, though we don't find out why until the end of the film. Set in Russia in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the story is fragmented and the timeline twisted to create tension, but the finished product provides a real kick. Despite taking place in Russia, and Russian, this is another example of a strong year for Irish filmmaking, with nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short for the country to boot. The Irish are coming! The Irish are coming!

DIRECTOR: JUANITA WILSON & JAMES FLYNN
COUNTRY: IRELAND
RUNNING TIME: 17 minutes
Click to watch the video

Instead Of Abracadabra BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

A young man called Tomas lives with his parents, who wish that he would just get a sensible job instead of reaching for his dream of becoming a great magician whose magic word is "Chimay!", as an alternative to the more traditional Abracadabra (hence the title). Funny and touching stuff from the land of Ikea, and director Patrik Eklund's most successful short to date.

DIRECTOR: PATRIK EKLUND & MATHIAS FJELLSTROM
COUNTRY: SWEDEN
RUNNING TIME: 22 minutes


Kavi BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Helvey's moving film applies docu-style techniques to the story of a boy who longs to escape his forced labour at a brick kiln in India and go to school. Filmmaker Helvey made this as his diploma film (we're guessing the Oscar nomination is a bonus) and hoped to draw attention to the importance of bonded labour (essentially, slavery) in the modern world. He's hoping to make a feature length version: think Slumdog Millionaire (this was actually made before that film, however) without the quiz show bits.

DIRECTOR: GREGG HELVEY
COUNTRY: USA / INDIA
RUNNING TIME: 19 minutes


Miracle Fish BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

A new spin on the old warning to be careful what you wish for, when a withdrawn eight-year-old reacts to bullying from his schoolmates by wishing they they'd all disappear. One day, after napping, he discovers that everyone else in the school has vanished as he wished - but lives to regret his impulsive choice. The filmmakers have been courted by Hollywood ever since this screened at Sundance in 2009, chatting to the likes of M. Night Shyamalan and Paul Wagner about future projects. Expect to see more of this pair in future.

DIRECTOR: LUKE DOOLAN & DREW BAILEY
COUNTRY: AUSTRALIA
RUNNING TIME: 17 minutes


The New Tenants BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Easily the starriest of the shorts, this features Vincent D'Onofrio and Kevin Corrigan as two men moving into a new apartment, only to discover the odd inhabitants that make their new home a little…strange. Between a nosy neighbour and a glass-eyed drug-dealer, they'll make the little old lady with the net curtains who lives across your street look positively normal. While this is director Joachim Back's first film, writer Anders Thomas Jensen has worked on high-profile efforts like Antichrist and the original version of Brothers, so this might have a slight head-start.

DIRECTOR: JOACHIM BACK & TIVI MAGNUSSON
COUNTRY: DENMARK / USA
RUNNING TIME: 20 minutes



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