Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Short Film (Live Action) - A wide open race will make or break office pools
In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!
The shorts categories can make or break your office predictions pool, and this year in particular, they could really make a difference. It's a tight race overall and if you can figure out where the Academy might go in these fields, you'll have a leg up. Live action might be the most difficult one of the bunch to call, however, as four of the five nominees could easily win the prize. It's an international assortment, entries coming from Spain, France, the UK, Denmark and Finland. (Note the absence of an American voice this year. Pity.) It's usually best to side with the film that rouses the emotions, but this year, a number of these films do that. (I've already covered these nominees at length, FYI, so these descriptions will sound familiar.)
The nominees are…
"Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)" (Esteban Crespo)
I would look to "That Wasn't Me" as a potential spoiler, just based on some light anecdotal evidence. It moves people quite a bit, this story of a border crossing gone wrong in an undisclosed war-ravaged African country, children set up as ominous gun-toting soldiers and all the familiar imagery that conjures. The film keeps you glued to the screen with each new turn in the script, ultimately becoming a pretty powerful story of redemption carried exquisitely by a few wrenching performances. Some have played the "white savior" card, but that doesn't compute much beyond the fringe, I think. This director packed a lot into this little space and could be rewarded for it.
"Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)" (Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras)
If you can exhibit certain qualities in a short film that reveal a potential master at the helm, you can get a long way in this race. With "Just Before Losing Everything," director Xavier Legrand does a magnificent job of ratcheting up the tension every step of the way in the story of a domestically abused woman fleeing her relationship with her children in tow. Like "That Wasn't Me," it has won quite a few prizes across the globe, and it also features a recognizable face in actor Denis Ménochet. I would not be surprised at all if this one won the prize.
"Helium" (Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson)
The most likely to win the prize, potentially, might also be the most forgettable of the bunch. I didn't love "Helium" but I have a great deal of respect for the production value on display in this story of an eccentric hospital janitor helping a dying boy through the last stages of his life with stories of the world of Helium. Beautiful visual effects and design render the fantasy well and the craft on the whole is handsome. But "on paper" doesn't always compute with these categories. Producer Kim Magnusson has been nominated five times in this category, by the way, having won for 1999's "Valgaften."
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
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