Short film predictions are often the hardest for the average office Oscars pool participant, and unfortunately the experts usually don’t fare much better. Of the three shorts categories, the live action short is usually the biggest wild card. While animated and documentary shorts have benefitted in recent years from growing online audiences, traditional narrative shorts tend to remain the domain of film festivals — at least until Oscar season. That said, this year’s nominees offer an array of narrative shorts from both emerging and established filmmakers, some with festival recognition and others little known until now. This year’s crop is refreshingly international, with only one American film in the bunch, making the spread even harder to decipher.
That distinction goes to KD Dávila’s futuristic prison satire “Please Hold,” about a wrongful arrest that takes a young man through a Kafkaesque techno hellscape. Even without the home country advantage, the fact that “Please Hold” is a topical comedy, similar to last year’s winner in the category “Two Distant Strangers,” gives it an edge.
Though hardly a guarantee, a few past Oscar winners and nominees appear on the shortlist, weighting their odds slightly. A six-time nominee and two-time winner in the live action category, director and longtime Danish Film Academy chair Kim Magnusson produced two films that made the shortlist. The one that snagged a nomination is “On My Mind,” which hails from Martin Strange-Hansen, who won the category in 2003. It’s a touching tragicomedy about a man desperate to record a karaoke song for his dying wife.
Another film with a significant name bump is “The Long Goodbye,” executive produced by Riz Ahmed and directed by Aneil Karia. Released alongside his eponymous studio album, the haunting film stars Ahmed in a dystopian tale of a British South Asian family who are abruptly abducted from their home by armed vigilantes.
The other two nominees, one about forced marriage in Kyrgyzstan and the other about a Polish hotel maid with dwarfism, while both excellent, are likely too bleak to inspire voters.
No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.
“The Long Goodbye”
“On My Mind”
“Ala Kachuu – Take and Run”