Forecasting the outcomes of the three short categories at the Oscars can mean the difference between winning or losing our predictions contest. This year’s contenders for the Live-Action award are a varied lot. Several are the type of film that have previously won the prize.
Ave Maria” is the clear frontrunner to win, drawing the support of 15 of our 26 experts drawn from journalists who cover this beat year-round as well as five of our seven in-house editors, 15 of the Top 24 Users (those two dozen folks who did the best predicting last year’s winners) and 75% of all Users.
This screamingly funny joint production from Palestine, France and Germany is centered on a quarreling family of Jewish settlers stranded in a convent. The twist is the nuns have taken a vow of silence and it’s after sundown on Shabbas, so the Jewish family can’t operate anything electronic or mechanical such as a telephone or a car. The results are a riotous 17 minutes which earned director Basil Khalil a lot of attention at the Cannes Short Film Competition. The film garnered a slot on French television and a distribution deal in Canada and the Middle East. “West Bank Story,” a sharply comic film with a similar setting, won in 2007.
“Shok,” a co-production of Kosovo and the United Kingdom, was directed by Brit Jamie Donoughue who explores the classic theme of childhood devastated by war. Set during the 1990s Kosovo conflict, the story focuses on two young boys whose lives are disrupted when they attempt to sell cigarette rolling papers to the occupying Serbian soldiers. The 21-minute film premiered at the Aspen Shortsfest and won Best Drama, Audience Special Recognition and Youth Jury awards. It has since won a number of other awards, including from the Hollyshorts Film Festival and DC Shorts Film Festival. It has the backing of eight experts, two editors, five of the Top 24 and 15% of users.
UPDATED: Oscar predictions by Experts in all 24 categories
“Stutterer,” the first short film from Irish writer-director Benjamin Cleary, is the shortest of the nominees clocking in at just 12 minutes. It is the most charming and a has light whimsical touch not unlike that of the 2013 winner “Helium.” A lonely typesetter with a speech impediment struggles to break out of his shell by connecting online. It won Best Foreign Film at the LA Shorts Fest, Audience Awards at the D.C., Kerry, and the OFFLine festivals, and a Jury Prize at the Savannah Film Festival. However, “Stutterer” has the backing of one Expert (Tom O’Neil), one Top 24 user and 5% of all users.
The German/Austrian film “Everything Will Be Okay,” from Patrick Vollrath is evocative of both last year’s winner “The Phone Call” and 2011’s “The Shore” with its documentary-like starkness and storyline. Over the course of 30 tense minutes, a divorced father attempts to kidnap his daughter during a shared-custody weekend, but his plans are foiled when his flight is delayed. The film has won a slew of prizes including the Audience Award at the Amiens International Film Festival, Best Short Film from the Austrian Film Awards, and the Grand Prix from the Melbourne International Film Festival. However, it has the votes of only one expert (Jeff Wells), one Top 24 user and less than 3% of all users.
It is surprising that “Day One” does not rank higher, but it has the votes of less than 3% of all users. In terms of dramatic elements, it’s got everything packing into 25 minutes as a female Army translator (Layla Alizada of “Days of Our Lives”) deals with her first day in Afghanistan. Beyond the hostile wartime setting, there is the threat of an unexploded bomb and a baby is delivered with complications. The story was inspired by the real-life experiences of director Henry Hughes who served as a paratrooper with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Awards include the Narrative Gold Medal at the Student Academy Awards, the BAFTA US Student Award, and First Place in Drama and the Directing Award at the Student Emmy Awards.
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