Oscar Short Films impress audiences

by Carmen Splane

The Academy’s annual wooing of the masses with Oscar nominations has stretched over into the short film category. Oscar-nominated short films are usually among the most eclectic and least seen of all the nominees, but this year we have an adapted tale from a popular children’s book and a short that was featured in the theater-run of “Toy Story 3.” Only three American films make up the 10 nominees, making this category the most international, even beating out the Foreign Language Film category.

The standouts of the Live Action category are the Belgian “Na Wewe” and the British  “Wish 143.” Sitting at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, both films highlight the best in short filmmaking. Set in civil war-torn Burundi, “Na Wewe,” tells the story of how a U2 song mediates the genocidal conflict between the embattled Hutu and Tutsi people.

“Wish 143” puts a twist on the overdone teen sex comedy about virginity and presents the most sympathetic character of all the nominees. An honorable mention is the clichéd “God of Love,” which tells the tale of a modern-day Cupid. Shot entirely in black and white with a hipster flair, the film is charming even if it is given the Tyler Perry treatment (the director also wrote and stars in the film).

The animated short films are superior to the live-action films in both style and story and give the Academy a more diverse pool to choose from. Pixar, the “animation king of the jungle,” went low with budget and high with brilliance for “Day & Night,” a clever spin on the buddy film that actually personifies the two different times of day. “The Gruffalo” is a charming, Dr. Seuss-like British fodder adapted from the popular children’s book of the same name about a mouse who has to outwit his captors. The longest of all the animated shorts, it is unlikely to win because of its familiar content.

The Aussies might have a winner on their hands with “The Lost Thing,” which is about exactly what the name implies. The assumed metaphor of the subject matter may just put this film over the edge.

This pack of nominees is just as much of a toss-up as the winner for Best Picture this year. With no clear-cut winner in either category, the Academy is given yet another chance to surprise and motivate viewers to tune in on Feb. 27.