What’s the quickest way to see 15 Oscar-nominated films? Head over to the Magnolia this week, where all currently-nominated Oscar short films — live action, animated and for the first time there, documentary — will be screening as part of the Shorts Program.
Most shorts aren’t readily available to audiences, unless you attend film festivals or happen to catch them on platforms like HBO or PBS, or in the case of animation, as intros to Disney/Pixar films, such as Bao, one of the nominees, which preceded The Incredible 2 this summer. So this annual program really does offer a unique opportunity.
The ones that typically excite me the most are the live action shorts, primarily because they are just mini-features, often with tight screenplays, good acting and professional production values, often dealing with topics less commonly addressed in mainstream films.
Among this year’s lineup of live action shorts:
Marguerite, pictured, in which a dying woman finally confronts her feelings for unrequited love for another woman.
Madre (Mother), a Spanish film set in real-time (basically one continuous shot) that is nightmarish in its realism: A six-year-old boy, lost on a beach in France, calls his mom as his battery runs low. His mother desperately does what she can to save him.
Fauve, a French-Canadian drama in which two pre-teen street urchins wander the railroad tracks and quarries, teasing each other and playing games… until one game before deadly serious.
Skin, one of the two English-language entries, deals with a family of skinheads and their reaction when a black man smiles at their young son.
Detainment, based on a true story, this short concerns two young boys detained on suspicion of murder.
— Arnold Wayne Jones