Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live-Action

I think Sing and La Femme et la TGV are the most deserving of the Oscar this year.

It often seems that short films are easily overlooked during the year. But the Oscars rarely fail at bringing them into the light anyway and showcasing the successes of a difficult art form: a story squeezed into 30 minutes or less.

A heartwarming piece from Hungary, Sing is one of the shorts nominated for “Best Live-Action Short” this year and deservedly so. We’re swiftly thrown into a world of what it feels like to be young and introduced to change through a girl named Zsofi who has just started at a new school, a new choir, and is making new friends. The story is a stark reminder of the pain we feel in being rejected or not being good enough, yet at the same time, it’s a nod to the reassurance we can feel in friendship.

Silent Nights, a nominated short from Denmark, doesn’t stray too far from the same sentiments in Sing, with a theme that centers around acceptance and the idea that love exists in many places and in many forms. Although the message of the film resonates, the complexity of the characters makes the story feel a bit too heavy for only 30 minutes. Feature length could have fleshed out the dynamics of the relationships we see, especially in Kwame’s life, instead of feeling like we’re witnessing these very broad, sudden changes in each of their lives so consecutively.

In major contrast, Timecode is a brief glimpse into the lives of two security guards who build a relationship outside of their mundane work schedules and crossed paths by sharing dances together through the same security cameras they use to view the parking garage. Although it’s a quirky, sometimes dragging piece, I found their dance together through the various time codes to be endearing as a whole.

La Femme et la TGV, as with the other shorts, makes a statement about living your life outside of set boundaries—although La Femme does it less metaphorically and with the beautifully shot tracking of a woman who learns a few lessons from a letter-writing stranger. This film has all of the elements of a successful short, showing us small pieces of the main character’s life without over-sharing through too much meaningless dialogue and making us feel some of her bitterness for what her life has become and the excitement companionship has brought her when the train flies by the house every day.

And finally, the last nominated short, Ennemis Interieurs, breaks from the pack with a weighted interrogation of a man born in Algeria who has lived in France all of his life but is now seeking French citizenship. It sits apart from the other shorts in its main character’s ultimate betrayal of his friends, but it also brings up feelings of what patriotism means, the role we play in humanity, and the tension that comes from fear of terrorism in our modern day.

Overall, these films have important stories to carry through, despite it being in a short, to-the-point manner. In my humble opinion, I think Sing and La Femme et la TGV are the most deserving of the Oscar this year because of the ease at which they both come full circle and because of how deeply the respective stories are felt long after they end. | Kristen Weber

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