The Oscar nominations were announced last week, including the Shorts categories, which are always a treat. Shorter form films are just as legitimate as any feature length, though they don’t get nearly the promotion or playtime, but thanks to the concerted efforts of Academy Shorts (http://bit.ly/1ee8kns) and movie chains like Landmark, audiences nationwide have been privileged to view them on the big screen since 2012.
In many regards, telling a story more concisely is more challenging. Time constraints always are. The Academy rules state that any short must run onscreen no longer than 40 minutes (http://bit.ly/2kVzB5r) so that is what most filmmakers entering the competition for Live Action, Animated or Documentary Shorts are up against. And when it comes to the Animated category, it’s always impressive how most of the entries actually tell their tale in less than 10 minutes. In fact, four of this year’s five superb Academy Award Animated Short nominees manage to do it in eight minutes or less.
Will the Oscars hold any suspense this year? Unlikely. After all, who doesn’t expect LA LA LAND to sweep? And victories for Emma Stone, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis seem like all but foregone conclusions. Maybe there is a genuine contest for Best Actor after Denzel Washington bested Casey Affleck at the SAG Awards last weekend, but overall, this year’s Academy Awards ballot is going to be easy to predict, albeit with one exception. Best Live Action Short is a real toss-up. Why? The five nominees are all incredibly impressive works of art, and they’re topical too. Thus, any of them could easily take the statue.