This year's nominees for Best Live Action Short are of a much darker subject matter than last year's lighter slate (with the exception of “Raju”). This year’s quintet, all by first-time nominees, touch on the subjects of death, old age, addiction, negligence, poverty, piracy and unfulfilled dreams.
Richie (writer/director Shawn Christensen) has hit rock bottom when he receives a call from his estranged sister asking him to babysit her nine-year-old daughter.
Backed by 16 of our 23 experts, five editors and a whopping 77% of users, this is the clear frontrunner with leading odds of 17/10.
PROS: While the overall tone is very dark, there are some very humorous elements. The performances are very good, especially Fatima Ptacek, who plays the young girl. That it’s the only nominee in English could help with the newly expanded voting pool.
CONS: Some of the film feels a bit too dark.
Sam French and Ariel Nasr follow the friendship between a blacksmith’s son and a street kid in Afghanistan as they play the brutal sport of buzkashi -- horse polo with a dead goat.
Two experts, two editors and 5% of users predict this to prevail, giving it odds of 4/1.
PROS: The friendship between the two boys is wonderful and emotional. The film does something amazing by showing Afghanistan as a country without the presence of American troops.
CONS: The culture of Afghanistan could have been explained better and the character of the street kid could have been developed better.
Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura tell the tale of a Somalian boy who must decide whether he will lead a life as a pirate or as an honest fisherman.
With one expert and 7% of users backing its bid, it has odds of 4/1.
PROS: The film tells a wonderful story with a great punch to it as it explores the affects of a serious issue in this part of the world. That the filmmakers used refugees for their actors is also significant.
CONS: At times, it feels all over the place, lacking the central characteristics of the people involved.
“Death of a Shadow” (Dood Van Een Schaduw)
In this film by Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele, a WWI soldier tries to ransom his soul from Death by taking pictures of dying shadows so that he may return to his girl.
Three experts and 8% of users support this film which translates into odds of 11/2.
PROS: The film is very mysterious but also insanely intriguing. The look of the film as well as the sets are extremely well done and it packs a good emotional punch.
CONS: Some aspects may be unclear to the broader voting pool deciding this race which could hinder their feelings toward this movie.
This French-Canadian film by Yan England is about an elderly concert pianist who finds himself entangled in several confusing events as he searches for his wife.
With just one expert and 3% of users predicting it to prevail, it has odds of 8/1.
PROS: This movie has the biggest emotional punch and a really creative way of getting there. The acting is also superb. I’m not ashamed to say that tears were streaming down my face by the end of it.
CONS: The big emotional punch may be a bit predictable and some might feel that the film is too obvious in its attempts.