Never underestimate the power of a good short film prediction to give you an edge on the office Oscars pool. With the Academy shortlists newly announced, the Oscar contenders for documentary short have been whittled down to a lucky 10 films for the 93rd Academy Awards. Per usual, the group includes a range of social issue films, addressing topics from abortion access to the war in Yemen to the Hong Kong protests. When it comes time to bet on the winners, always go for old people, tragedy, and tearjerkers.
Netflix landed three films on the shortlist, including the crowdpleaser “What Would Sophia Loren Do?,” which follows an Italian grandmother who navigates difficult decisions in life by asking herself what the fabled movie star would do. While the film is delightful, it’s obviously also useful to the streamer as promotional content for its 2020 Loren-starrer “The Life Ahead,” written and directed by her son Edoardo Ponti.
Netflix scored another spot with Sophia Nahli Allison’s powerful “A Love Song for Latasha,” a lyrical ode to Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl from South Central Los Angeles whose 1991 shooting death became a flashpoint in the LA uprisings. The 19-minute film, which screened as part of Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY 360 programming, is bursting with sun-kissed sidewalks and faded basketball courts, clean line animation and radiant Black girls posed gracefully, like young queens.
Netflix is also behind “The Speed Cubers,” which follows the rivalry and friendship between the world’s two fastest Rubik’s Cube-solvers, an activity known as “speedcubing.”
Emmy award-winner Geeta Gandbhir’s “Call Center Blues” follows four individuals working at a call center in Tijuana after having been deported from the U.S. In “Colette,” a young history student helps a 90-year-old former French resistance fighter revisits a Nazi concentration camp after vowing never to set foot in Germany.
The New York Times Op-Docs have swiftly become a force in the documentary short category, and it landed a place on the list for “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” from the Emmy-winning duo Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers. The film follows a virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
One hundred fourteen films qualified in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees. Nominations voting begins on March 5 and concludes on March 10. Nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on March 15, 2021.
The 10 shortlist contenders are listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.
“Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa”
“Call Center Blues”
“A Concerto Is a Conversation”
“Do Not Split”
“A Love Song for Latasha”
“The Speed Cubers”
“What Would Sophia Loren Do?”
The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.