This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Live Action Short Film don’t quite have the morbid theme of last year’s crop which were largely about “children in extreme peril,” as Gold Derby contributing editor Riley Chow puts it in a new video slugfest. In speaking with me (Kevin Jacobsen) and fellow contributing writer Charles Bright, we admit to being relieved with how different this year’s films are from each other at least in that respect. The front-runners are “Brotherhood” and “The Neighbors’ Window,” according to combined odds on Gold Derby, and our panel is split on which will prevail. Watch the video slugfest above.
Bright admits that watching “Brotherhood” he found himself “so invested in it that the ending left me heartbroken.” The film centers on a Tunisian father whose son comes home with a Syrian wife, creating great tension. I note that the film is “very strong on a visual level” with “very impressive performances all around.” Meanwhile, “The Neighbors’ Window” is the only English language film in the bunch, which tends to bode well in this category and comes from past nominee Marshall Curry. The short tells the story of a mother who enviously spies on her neighbor only to discover what her neighbor is really dealing with. “For the short category, I think they’ll go, ‘Yeah, that was watchable, I enjoyed it,'” says Chow, of why he’s predicting it to win.
Just because “Brotherhood” and “The Neighbors’ Window” are projected frontrunners doesn’t mean the others are out of it. “Nefta Football Club” is the lightest film in the bunch, about a pair of young Tunisian boys who discover bags of white powder on the back of a donkey wearing headphones. As Chow observes, the film “flirts with very bad things happening but they never really do.” Then there’s “A Sister,” a Belgian film about a woman being kidnapped who uses coded language on the phone with emergency services to find help. While I enjoyed the tense action of the short, Chow says he found it “a little simple” compared to the other films. Finally, there’s “Saria,” based on the true story of orphans in a Guatemalan safe house who were killed in a fire. The tragic ending “catches you so off-guard and as tragic as it is, it may not be something that leaves them with a powerful feeling,” admits Bright. But anything could happen in these short categories as all five films have compelling strengths that could lead them to that Oscar stage.
Be sure to make your Oscar winner predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the ceremony on February 9. And join in the thrilling debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.