ShortsHD has made it possible for those filmgoers who live in major cities as well as have access to iTunes can see the majority of the nominations in the short film categories for this year's Academy Awards. Four of the five nominees this year have some humor in them. The past two years the winner has been a comedy or had comedic elements. This is how I would rank the live action nominees if I were a voting member of the Academy.
5. Pentecost - Ireland - 11 minutes. This is the story of a young Damian, an altar boy who makes a grievous error in his incense swinging duties. Grounded by his father and banned from viewing his beloved Liverpool football club on television play in their first European Cup, the young lad is given a second chance when he becomes the only option for an important Mass officiated by the local archbishop. Taking as its framework the classic locker room pep talk the film has a great deal of charm, but suffers from the slight story and a rather predictable ending.
4. The Shore - Northern Ireland - 29 minutes. This is the tale of Jim, returning to his village after a 25 year absence in the States caused by his involvement in the Troubles. While introducing his daughter to his family and friends she uncovers her father's secret. Years ago he betrayed his best friend and his fiancee and has not been able to forgive himself. With his daughter's prodding he sets out to make things right. A sweet, sentimental film that features some farcical elements, The Shore is a nice little film and the only one of this year's batch to star a well-known film actor, Ciaran Hinds.
3. Time Freak - United States - 10 minutes. This is the only US entry. Like last year's entry that won this category it is also a student film. This is a comic tale about what might happen if you succeed in building a working time machine. Do you travel back to the great moments of history? Or, do you waste your life redoing the little moments in life until you get them perfect. A very funny little film.
2. Raju - Germany/India - 24 minutes. The only pure drama of the bunch this is the story of a young German couple who have traveled to India to adopt a four-year-old orphan. When the boy disappears from a market, the ensuing search uncovers the dark secret of the orphanage. Will the couple still adopt Raju knowing what they have learned? Would we? It is a compelling little drama that makes you question your own morality.
1. Tuba Atlantic - Norway - 25 minutes. Oskar receives the precise diagnosis that he has 6 days to live. He spends those days trying to complete an experiment he began years before so he can communicate with his brother, whom Oskar has not spoken to in years. Oh, and he does his utmost to rid Norway of seagulls. With the aid of Inger, a young Angel of Death (I believe Norway's version of a hospice worker) he travels through the five stages of death and triumphantly succeeds. Many seagulls die. This film has humor, pathos, drive and longing. It is a drama with humor tinged to the dark side.
There is truly not a weak nominee in this year's batch of live action shorts. Any of them would make a worthy winner.
ShortsHD is screening the Oscar Nominated Shorts: Documentary, Live Action and Animation in selected theaters beginning February 10, 2012. Please visit their website, http://theoscarshorts.shorts.tv/index.php to find a theater showing the films. The films will also be available to purchase and download from iTunes on February 21, 2012.