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Tivoli Theatre – After Hours Film Society Presents 2024 Oscar Nominated Short Films
February 26 @ 7:30 pm
A compilation of this year’s Academy Award contenders culled from 187 films that qualified for consideration.
The rating and running time will be determined shortly after the nominations are announced.
Reviewed by Joey Moser | AwardsDaily
The short films categories can elude many fans of the Oscars. Most films do not get a wide, theatrical release, and, for a lot of awards season fans, the titles don’t become familiar until the shortlists are announced. Over the next few days, I will be taking a look at Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, and Documentary Short Subject to explore the themes and the individual races. Are there clear frontrunners, or should we prepare for a perplexing race?
Live Action Short Film is my favorite of the three categories, especially since the Academy tends to honor stories from all over the world. Death and grief are a prevalent theme through this year’s shortlisted films, but never fear! Each one is different than the last one, and it’s not a sobfest–there is a lot of joy in these stories. 187 films qualified for this year’s award, and there was a change in the voting that should change how this race shakes out, but more on that later. Let’s look at the predicted winners!
The After: Misan Harriman’s film has not left me since I saw the it back in August during HollyShorts, and I don’t want its message to ever leave my psyche. Anchored by a beautiful, vulnerable performance from David Oyelowo, it teaches or reminds us that we can all pick up the pieces, no matter how much has been destroyed.
Invincible: If you had the chance to honor a childhood friend’s memory, what would you say? Director Vincent René-Lortie looks back at a friend he knew growing up, but never shies away from our inability to handle a young man’s battle with his own mental health. As Marc-Antoine Bernier, Léokim Beaumier-Lépine carries a lot on his shoulders, and he delivers a remarkably layered performance.
Knight of Fortune: We have spoken a lot about death and grief on this list, but I don’t think you’ve seen anything quite like Lasse Lyskjær Noer’s Knight of Fortune, an absurdist look at one man’s reluctance to start the grieving process. Sometimes we laugh when aren’t expecting to, but that helps with wading though our reactions to something serious or a shift in our lives. Noer’s film is marvelously balanced, and it never lets the emotions off the hook.
Red, White and Blue: I was not ready for the emotion that came from Nazrin Choudhury’s “Red, White and Blue,” a tightly-directed drama about one mother desperate to cross state lines to receive an abortion. There were numerous films about the hot-button topic that qualified through various film festivals, but Choudhury’s film will hit you like a ton of bricks.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar: Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl adaptation is a confection unto itself. With a dependable legion of Anderson collaborators (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, and more) it is certainly the most star-studded entry on the shortlist. The story (wonderful story, that is) is almost irrelevant, because Anderson makes this sucker move like crazy. Much like how Asteroid City had a lot of performers enacting stories, Henry Sugar’s set pieces move in and out as Cumberbatch and company tell the story of a wealthy bachelor who uses his vast inherited fortune to back his gambling habits.
Who Makes the Cut?
Things are a bit tricky right from the get-go. For the first time, the Academy is allowing everyone to vote in the nomination round when the members of the Short Films and Feature Animation, Directors, Producers and Writers Branches narrowed down the nominations previously. Would Almodóvar’s The Human Voice have landed a slot in the final five if voting was determined by everybody a few years ago? Normally, I would’ve said that Strange Way and Henry Sugar should consider their shortlist mentions as their prize since the Live Action Short category doesn’t always cater to big names or big stars.
This year, I would reconsider that with Henry Sugar having the edge. When I attended the In Conversation with… series and Almodóvar’s film screened, some people mentioned to me that they were more thrilled by the Q&A than the film itself, despite loving the chemistry between Hawk and Pascal and loving the visuals. Is that the general consensus? If Anderson’s film wins the “battle of the super-famous directors,” that could mean that Netflix has two films in the race for the first time. Harriman’s “The After” is one of the most high-profile shorts of the entire year, so I have a hard time seeing that film miss.
Ehsas’ “Yellow” feels perfect for a nomination here. If you follow the Live Action Short Film race every year, there is something about it that feels like it will resonate with voters. There is a running, not-so-serious-joke-but-kind-of-serious-joke that sometimes voters will vote based just on the title? If we apply that to this first round (a lot of people say that in reference to selecting a winner), people might vote for Red, White and Blue when they see it on the ballot. That’s not to be reductive–they will also vote for it, because of Choudhury’s construction and emotional wallop of a story.
With Live Action Short Film particularly, the Academy likes a good story, so it will be interesting to see how the group as a whole selects their five with such a strong list. Will multiple films about death make it in? Will they gravitate to humor?
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