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Oscar predictions: What's going to win the short film races?

February 22, 2012 |  4:30 pm

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore
The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Here he tiptoes through the minefield that is the three divisions of short films.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

The nominees:

“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
“God Is the Bigger Elvis”
“Incident in New Baghdad”
“Saving Face”
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”

And the winner is … “Saving Face.” The HBO-backed short follows the work of plastic surgeon Muhammad Jawad as he performs reconstructive surgery on Pakistani women who have had acid thrown on their faces, usually by their husbands, often without consequence. It’s shocking and quite moving. And it’s about a subject -- disfigurement -- that academy members have often rewarded in this category.

Unless … Voters go with the equally moving survivors’ tale “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.” Or perhaps “God Is Bigger Than Elvis,” the story of Dolores Hart, who walked away from Hollywood to become a Benedictine nun shortly after making a movie with Elvis Presley, might intrigue, though we’d guess her particular journey doesn’t exactly resonate with the academy crowd.

ANIMATED SHORT

The nominees:

“Dimanche/Sunday”
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
“La Luna”
“A Morning Stroll”
“Wild Life”

And the winner is … “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” It’s about reading and storytelling. In a nostalgia-fueled Oscar year, it pays tribute to Buster Keaton and “The Wizard of Oz.” It uses a natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina) as a plot device. And it’s silent. What more do you need?

Unless … Voters decide they can’t go a year without giving Pixar an award and give the Oscar to the charming “La Luna.” Inventive BAFTA winner “Morning Stroll” is also definitely in the mix.

LIVE ACTION SHORT

The nominees:

“Pentecost”
“Raju”
“The Shore”
“Time Freak”
“Tuba Atlantic”

And the winner is … “The Shore.” Oscar nominee Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda”) did a marvelous job directing this emotional story of an Irish man reuniting with the “blood brother” he left behind when he came to America during The Troubles. George’s pedigree and the presence of actors Ciaran Hinds and Kerry Condon make “The Shore” the showiest entry and the most obvious pick.

Unless … As is often the case in this category, the most obvious choice isn’t the choice at all and another tale of estrangement, “Tuba Atlantic,” wins for the way it adeptly blends wry humor and sentiment in its tale of a dying Norwegian man looking to blow up a few seagulls and reconnect with his brother in his final days.

RELATED:

Oscar predictions: First up, score and song

Oscars 2012: Shorts categories have multiple Irish, Canadian noms

Oscar shorts: 'Morris Lessmore' has hybrid animation, iPad app

-- Glenn Whipp

Image: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore." Credit: Moonbot Studios


 
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