On February 26, 2017, ABC will broadcast the proceedings from the 89th Academy Awards. Though meaningless in the grand scheme of things, an Academy Award, or “Oscar,” remains the most prestigious prize a film can hope to win. And while the “experts” out there probably have their predictions for most of the awards, there are two categories that are notoriously difficult to forecast. I am of course speaking of Best Animated Short Film, and Best Live-Action Short Film.
Now, why are they so difficult to predict? Probably because most people never hear of these short films, let alone know what they are about, let alone see them, before the Oscars take place. This includes me. I am most people.
So, with no knowledge of the films below whatsoever, I am going to guess what each is about, based solely on their respective titles and movie posters (or promo image in some cases.) Then, because awards predicting is a pseudo-science anyway, I am going to predict a winner based off my unfounded plot descriptions. May my clairvoyance help you to win your office’s Oscar pool. Alternatively, if you are a panicking member of The Academy, who stumbled upon this article by googling “Oscars Short Films: Who Wins,” may my words guide your official vote.
(A note: I will not be predicting the Best Documentary Short Subject category; it seems kind of cruel to speculate on the lives of actual people. That being said, 4.1 Miles is going to bring it home. Also, do not believe the “official” list of nominees, the real Best Picture of the year is Hunt For The Wilderpeople.)
Best Animated Short Film
A young girl gets into various wacky situations due to being red-green colorblind. She puts relish on her spaghetti instead of tomato sauce. She mistakes Mario for Luigi. She rides a tandem bicycle by herself. That last one has nothing to do with colorblindness, it just sounds like a whimsical scene one would want to include in a film. Then she gets hit by a car after failing to notice a traffic light change. After all, only the most depressing, soul-crushing stuff gets nominated for Oscars.
(Full disclosure: I am aware that this is the short that plays before Finding Dory. But beyond that, my knowledge is nil.) A small, adorable bird spends seven minutes and nine seconds trying to figure out how to eat a nut. Sounds simple, but because this is Pixar, it inevitably makes a beautiful statement on the human condition, causing humans everywhere to cry. When it all comes down to it, aren’t we all just discarded nuts, lying by the ocean?
Pearl has traveled all over the globe, baring witness to countless breathtaking things. The Great Wall of China, playoff basketball in Utah, a medium-sized corgi pushing a watermelon up a hill. What really blows her mind though, is that the constellations you see in the night sky change based on where you are in the world. That’s Pearl for you! Always with her head in the clouds…
A time-traveling adventure set in the Old West. Arthur is constantly messing things up for himself. Fortunes change however, the day he discovers a time machine behind the stables. Finally, a way to fix all of his old mistakes! Slight problem though: each time he goes back and tries to fix things for himself, Arthur manages to screw up the universe more and more. With space-time itself threatening to rip apart, Arthur has to go back one last time, and stop himself from ever discovering the time machine in the first place.
Peach Cider and Cigarettes
A shot-for-shot remake of select scenes from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, except every actor has been replaced by a less-heralded family member, or affiliate. It gets the same points across, only, instead of like Bill Murray talking about delirium with RZA and GZA, it’s Brian Doyle-Murray with Inspectah Deck and U-God. Results are mixed.
And the Oscar goes to…
It has got to be Borrowed Time. What can I say, science-fiction westerns are in. You see Westworld? That was some thought-provoking stuff!
Best Live-Action Short Film
La Femme et le TGV
I have been learning some French ahead of a trip I am going on in a couple of months. Therefore, with great confidence, I can tell you that the title of this movie translates to “The Woman and the TGV.” Based on the above poster and the tagline of, “Sometimes life seems to pass at 300 km/h” we can intuit that TGV stands for “Train Goes (E)verywhere.” Because trains do, in fact, go everywhere. That is where the titular Le Femme is going as well, before the manuscript for her debut novel flies out an open train window, quite literally scattering the pages to the wind. She forgets everything she had written, and gives up as a writer before her career even begins. Years later, living a simple life as a florist, she gets invited to a ceremony to receive a lifetime achievement award. Turns out, her scattered pages were found and adapted into the most successful daytime soap opera of all-time, in a small European country she’s never heard of. Finally, she learns to love writing again.
Unfortunately, these particular words have not yet come up in my Duolingo French lessons. Regardless, it is pretty clear that Ennemis Intérieurs is about two enemies having a conversation with each other. Except, these two enemies have no idea that the person they are sharing a lovely chat with is actually their enemy! Tension builds throughout, as you anticipate the moment when one of these guys will pick up on what is really going on. Instead however, the two both exchange pleasant goodbyes and go their separate ways. It is only until they are both going about their lives later that day that both enemies come to the same realization! In a split-screen, we see them smack their foreheads and yell towards the sky simultaneously as the credits roll.
A one night stand, over Christmas Eve, in the storeroom of a Bed Bath & Beyond leads to some not so silent days. By which I mean, they talk to each other so much that they fall in love, get married, and die old together, living happily ever after. Quite a beautiful story. I know what I said earlier about only depressing films getting nominated, but you need to let the light in too, folks!
A young girl changes schools and joins the choir, but is too afraid to sing. That is, until she sees the other movie called Sing, and unleashes her inner Nick Kroll as Gunter the pig.
Shot primarily via security footage, Timecode is actually a rather straightforward, mundane story about an investigator trying to pin down the exact time a murder took place, for the official record. It apparently has an amazing score though, I hear Gucci Mane does incredible work.
And the Oscar goes to…
Le Femme et le TGV, because if what is written above isn’t the actual plot, guys, I think I just came up with the next great Meryl Streep role!
There you have it! Borrowed Time and Le Femme et le TGV will be the big winners for their respective short film categories come next month’s Academy Awards.
Now, here is a plot for my own life’s trajectory, since I will surely become an authority on predicting the short films categories for the Oscars: Jeremy did well for himself, but never was quite able to perfect his enchilada recipe.