The 2014 Oscar Nominated Short Films

| February 7, 2015

Thankfully, the last couple of years, they’ve started showing the Oscar Nominated short films in select theaters so the general public can see them and care about which one wins along with all the other awards.  Except for documentary.  I don’t even know what’s nominated for best documentary…

Anyway, I just got home from seeing all of the shorts, and I thought it would be fun to rank them with short reviews.  So here goes.

BEST SHORT FILM – ANIMATED

#5 – “Feast”
This was the only animated short I had already seen since it played before Disney’s Big Hero 6.  I was disappointed with it then, and while it’s better on a second viewing, it’s still easily my least favorite of the nominees.  It’s cute, but the story is lackluster and none of the characters are well-defined.

#4 – “The Bigger Picture”
Really interesting stop-motion animation style, but the story is pretty bland and cliché.  The two brothers are basically interchangeable and no one has any emotions to speak of.

#3 – “Me and My Moulton”
Pretty much the opposite of “The Big Picture.”  The animation style is simple and childish, but the story is really interesting and you genuinely care about the main character and her family.

#2 – “A Single Life”
I like the animation style okay here, but the execution of the story is what’s really great.  Clocking in at only 2 minutes, “A Single Life” sees a woman jumping back and forward through her own life while listening to and manipulating her record player.  It’s funny and beautiful.

#1 – “The Dam Keeper”
It took me a little while to get into this one, but it brought me around hard by the end.  The animation looks fantastic, and while the characters start off as conventional elementary or middle school students, the film quickly raises a lot of interesting philosophical questions about good and evil.

BEST SHORT FILM – LIVE ACTION

#5 – “Butter Lamp”
Really this is just a bad year for live action short films.  This one was painfully boring.  I feel like there’s some historical or social significance to the setting, but it was lost on me.  Maybe if they had done something interesting with it, like having it all be one take I could at least acknowledge that, but I have no idea how this got nominated.

#4 – “Parvaneh”
Also boring.  I didn’t care about the characters, and any conflict that came up was solved way too easily.

#3 – “The Phone Call”
More boring.  A great cast with Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, and maybe the secret would be to expand this into a feature and really get into these characters’ motivations.  As is, it’s nothing special.

#2 – “Aya”
More long than boring.  I had a difficult time tracking why the main character was doing anything.  It was more interesting than the previous 3 nominees, and there was a great chemistry between Aya and her retroactive passenger, but ultimately this same story could have been told just as effectively in half the time.

#1 – “Boogaloo and Graham”
Easily the best of the bunch.  Not just better than the other four, but downright great.  It’s the only one of the five nominees that was a comedy.  It’s the only one where I legitimately cared about the characters and what they were doing.  It’s the only one that used its politically turbulent setting effectively.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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