More than 25% of the films nominated for Oscars each year are shorts, which are typically the least well-known of the Oscar nominees.
Calgary International Film Festival Shorts Programmer Brennan Tilley is here to tell you where to see this year's Oscar-nominated shorts and give you a leg up in your Oscar pool!
DEKALB ELEMENTARY *Brennan's Pick* THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK MY NEPHEW EMMETT THE SILENT CHILD WOTU WOTE/AII OF US
While the shorts in this category are not publicly available, Calgary audiences were given the chance to see DEKALB ELEMENTARY, which screened in the festival’s Pros and Consequences and Best of Shorts packages. The film was recognized by the Calgary Film jury as the best Live Action Short of the festival, it was in the #1 spot on my list of best shorts of 2017, and I'm sticking with this as my pick to take home the Oscar.
THE SILENT CHILD is an exceptional film that stands out as the type of film the Academy is likely to recognize. It captures the experience of a profoundly deaf girl and the social worker preparing her for school, not entirely in line with her family’s wishes. WATU WOTE and MY NEPHEW EMMETT are other highlights in the category, which each won Gold Student Academy Awards in the International and Domestic categories respectively.
DEAR BASKETBALL GARDEN PARTY *Brennan's pick* LOU NEGATIVE SPACE REVOLTING RHYMES
The most widely seen nominee in this category is likely LOU, as it screened theatrically before Pixar's CARS 3 and is also included on that film’s DVD/Blu-ray release. Currently, LOU available on services such as iTunes and Google Play. Pixar has four wins from 13 previous nominations in this category; the animation studio's most recent loss was to BEAR STORY – our 2015 winner of the Best of Shorts award.
REVOLTING RHYMES was added to Netflix in February. This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s dark takes on fairy tales and nursery rhymes is buoyed by a strong British voice cast.
My pick for the win is GARDEN PARTY. It features lush animation of a frog and toad joyfully passing time in a house seemingly devoid of human inhabitants.
EDITH + EDDIE *Brennan's Pick* HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405 HEROIN[E) KNIFE SKILLS TRAFFIC STOP
Four of the five nominees in the Documentary Shorts category are currently easily available online or on Netflix. My pick is EDITH+EDDIE (available online here), the story of America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. What starts as a heart-warming story about an adorable elderly couple finding love in their twilight years moves into a heart-wrenching tale of dementia, guardianship and individual autonomy. Produced by the documentary collaborative Kartemquin, their greatest films have been inexplicably overlooked by the Academy. Hopefully, this is the year that EDITH+EDDIE or the feature ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL (nominated in the Documentary Feature category) will garner Kartemquin a much-deserved Oscar.
Conversely, Thomas Lennon earned his fourth Oscar nomination for KNIFE SKILLS (available on YouTube). This is his third nomination in this category, matching Walt Disney and the NFB for the record. This short doc tells the story of a French restaurant in Cleveland, which employs formerly incarcerated individuals, and a six-week culinary school that gives these men and women an opportunity for employment and a return to society.
Also on Youtube is HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405, a profile of artist Mindy Alper. Since childhood, Alper has battled crippling anxiety and severe depression. Alper was without speech for 10 years, utilizing her art as her clearest form of expression. In the film, she vocalizes her experience to tell her story, her views on the world and how happiness and love have emerged in her life.
Head to Netflix to watch HEROIN(E). Three women play their parts in battling the opioid crisis in Huntington, West Virginia. It is a chilling look at approaches to drug addiction in an area where it runs rampant.
TRAFFIC STOP will be on HBO in March.
See how Brennan's shorts picks do on March 4 at Calgary's only official Oscar Party: A Red Carpet Affair. Tickets ($85) to the Calgary International Film Festival's Oscar Party & Fundraiser are still available. Click here to buy.