The LAMB Devours the Oscars 2018: Best Short Film (Live Action)

by Jay Cluitt · February 11, 2018 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · No Comments

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, Aaron Neuwirth from The Code is Zeek and Out Now with Aaron and Abe is here to look at the nominees for Best Short Film (Live Action).

Dekalb Elementary

Right away we start with my favorite of the bunch. As opposed to the animated shorts, the live-action films nominated for Oscars tend to skew more towards the dramatic side and Dekalb Elementary certainly pushes on that heavily by way of any parent’s worst nightmare, let alone anyone in general. An unstable man enters an elementary school with a weapon and while I will not say anything more about where things go and how, I will note the film relies heavily on a relationship that forms between the shooter and the school receptionist. This film is awfully tense and the work from Tarra Riggs as the receptionist, Cassandra, is the kind of natural and grounded performance you hope to see in similar types of stories. The additional work to build a lot out of one location makes for all the better, as a level of scope is needed in the midst of what could be seen as a closed-off situation shared between two people.

The Eleven O’Clock

The only comedy of the nominees and it’s a good one. A play on misunderstandings and identity, The Eleven O’Clock has a fun premise that is given just the right amount of time to play out. The right performances make this story of doctor vs. patient all the better thanks to a blend of professionalism with some inherent quirkiness. If I have a gripe, it has to do with feeling like I was a step ahead of the short film fairly early on, so the conclusion didn’t exactly throw me. Still, as a fine work of comedy, there is enough to admire and enough to praise when it comes to seeing a short film that tries to play things in a humorous and heightened manner.

My Nephew Emmett

This historical adaptation goes over the angering point in history where a teenager suffered at the hands of racism. It led to further progression of the Civil Rights movement but at a cost that is hard to consider in the realm of all the various horrors that occurred over many centuries. The main focus of this story, however, is on Emmett Till’s uncle, who we see as a good man who already knows what to expect before bad things happen. Shot with lots of natural lighting and a heavy use of shadow, My Nephew Emmett has the look of an accomplished visual artist, though I wonder how it could have been handled a bit differently from a narrative standpoint. A certain incorporation of footage is provided at the end, but given the history surrounding this event, something holding me back from embracing this film more is the lack of presentation regarding what isn’t heard or elaborated upon. Instead, we see lots of anger coming through on both sides, though I surely feel I understand what’s happening early on and could feel better seeing more of what came next.

The Silent Child

This is a good awareness film fit for audiences who are unaware of certain challenges. Filmed well enough to have me curious about certain cinematography choices and how they were accomplished amidst an involving story, The Silent Child works on a number of levels. Not backing down from certain frustrating aspects, there are a few really strong performances here, as we see both a warm-hearted and well-meaning social worker and a skeptical mother. Both illicit the kind of response the film is going for and without making either performance feel too broadly played. Being contained to only so much time, I would say there’s an element introduced that felt a bit confusing, even if I understood what was ultimately taking place. Regardless, the progression of this story leads to an ending fit for an independent short that needs to get across a message, which is good as far as making it memorable for those who are willing to listen.

Watu Wote (All Of Us)

As I delve into Watu Wote, the final nominee, I should note that I appreciated and found a good amount of quality in every one of this year’s live-action contenders. Sometimes I feel like I miss understanding why some of the shorts got all the way to an Oscar nomination, but not the case here. That easily speaks to Watu Wote, a strong dramatic feature delving into the complicated relationship shared between Christians and Muslims living in Kenya due to terrorist attacks. This is another film based on a true story from 2015 and it expertly put together by director Katja Benrath. While the film reaches a violent and thrilling climax, the work done to build up the select number of characters we see is affecting. It makes for a better film to have the sort of minimal insight we receive, as the universal theme of helping and standing up for one another, especially when considering the diverse populations we have in this world, lets the film have an honest importance to it. The investment in this film depends on how this story is told and the portrayal of it is worthwhile in a sense that easily reflects the translated title of the short – All Of Us.

What do you think is going to win ?


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