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10 films eligible for best live-action short Oscar, but which will win?

December 4, 2009 |  3:04 pm

Ten live-action short films are now eligible for the 82nd Academy Awards, but as we saw with the animated shorts, making a guess as to which will claim the Oscar requires research and perhaps a bit of tea-leaf reading.

Most of the eligible shorts have been widely praised at various film festivals. Juanita Wilson's "The Door" has claimed top prizes from the Irish Film and Television Awards and Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films, among others, and Destin Daniel Cretton's "Short Term 12" has seven major awards to its credit, including the Short Filmmaking Award from the Sundance Film Festival and the Jury Award from CineVegas 2009. That might translate into gold, as shown by last year's winner, Germany's "Toyland," which collected numerous awards at international fests before its Oscar receipt. But that doesn't narrow the field at all -- nor does critical response. "Toyland," in fact, was roundly declared the winner not because of its quality, but because of its subject matter (the Holocaust), with many sources instead naming "New Boy," based on a Roddy Doyle story, to be the year's best.

What remains for criteria, then, is heart, and the lineup is fairly rich in emotional material. "Short Term 12" follows a day in the lives of the staff and patients at an at-risk clinic for teens. "Kavi" concerns an Indian boy who lives as a modern-day slave. "Hotel" might click with voters for its topical storyline: A British agent and a terrorism suspect discover connections to each other's lives. And the same is true for Adam Rodgers' "The Response," which draws inspiration from the Guantanamo Bay trials. 

In short, it's anyone's game until Feb. 2. That's when the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee will decide which three to five of these films will be Oscar nominees. The ceremony itself will air March 7.

The complete list of eligible live-action films:

“The Door,” Juanita Wilson, director, and James Flynn, producer (Octagon Films Ltd.)

“The Ground Beneath,” Rene Hernandez, director, and Kristina Ceyton, producer (Passion Pictures) 

“Hotel,” Tim Conrad, director-producer (Oyster Films)

“Instead of Abracadabra,” Patrik Eklund, director, and Mathias Fjellstrom, producer (Direktorn & Fabrikorn)

“Kavi,” Gregg Helvey, director-producer (Gregg Helvey) 

“Miracle Fish,” Luke Doolan, director, and Drew Bailey, producer (Druid Films) 

“The New Tenants,” Joachim Back, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer (Park Pictures) 

“The Response,” Adam Rodgers, director, and Sig Libowitz, producer (Look at the Moon Productions)

“Short Term 12,” Destin Daniel Cretton, director-producer, and Michelle Steffes, producer (Destin Cretton) 

“Sidney Turtlebaum,” Tristram Shapeero, director, and Daniel Jewel, producer (Third Man Films Limited) 

-- Paul Gaita

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