Special Event: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019: Live Action
February 8, 2019 11:17 PM - Subscribe

ShortsTV presents a theatrical release of the five Oscar nominees for Best Short Film, Live Action

Where to see it in theaters

Available streaming/on demand starting February 19

Reviews of all nominees: Birth Movies DeathVariety

Madre (Mother) [Spain, 19 min.]

While at home in her apartment with her own mother in Spain, a woman gets a phone call from her six-year-old son, who's on holiday in France with his father.


• Reviews: View of the ArtsThe DreamcageOC Movie Reviews

• Interviews with director Rodrigo Sorogoyen: Borrowing TapeDirectors NotesJust Celebrity

Fauve [Canada, 16 min.]

Set in a surface mine, two boys sink into a seemingly innocent power game with Mother Nature as the sole observer.


full film [Vimeo] •

• Reviews: VulturehoundFilm Threat

• Interviews with director Jérémy Comte: Close-Up CultureHollywood Life

Marguerite [Canada, 19 min.]

An aging woman and her nurse develop a friendship that inspires her to unearth unacknowledged longing and thus help her make peace with her past.


• Reviews: Movies over the RainbowVulturehound

Interview with director Marianne Farley

Detainment [Ireland, 30 min.]

Two ten year-old boys are detained by police under suspicion of abducting and murdering a toddler. Based on interview transcripts and records from the James Bulger case.


• Reviews: Eye for FilmUnseen FilmsView of the Arts

This film has drawn controversy because it was made without consulting the parents of James Bulger. When the shortlist in this category was announced, there were calls for it to be removed and then further calls to remove it once the nominations were announced.

Skin [USA, 20 min.]

A small supermarket in a blue collar town, a black man smiles at a 10 year old white boy across the checkout aisle. This innocuous moment sends two gangs into a ruthless war that ends with a shocking backlash.

Facebook pagetrailerIMDb

• Reviews: Red Carpet CrashCinefiles

• Interviews with director Guy Nattiv: CinéEqualClose-Up cultureDeadline
posted by Eyebrows McGee (4 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(Amazing post compiled by DevilsAdvocate and posted by me on their behalf because imdb is slow to update data which means we probably won't have the proper imdb data for this to be in "movies" until after the Oscars, which is no good! We'll add the imdb data when it becomes available!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:19 PM on February 8, 2019

Thanks, Eyebrows McGee, for posting! (Similar posts for the animated and documentary shorts to follow in the next few days.)

A word of warning: if you don't like movies that involve children in danger or distress, maybe skip this program altogether. That's four of the five films in this category.

Madre: Done in a single shot (with the exception of establishing shots of a beach at the beginning and end), this had me on the edge of my seat. This was quite the thriller, especially so given that it's mostly just phone conversations. I had mixed feelings at first about leaving it unresolved — part of me wanted to shout, "NO YOU CAN'T JUST END IT THERE" — but the more I think about it, the more I like that choice.

Fauve: Oof. Not sure the ending here is enough to justify what it puts the viewer through. This was a hard one to watch.

Marguerite: I assume there's someone at ShortsTV who compiles these, and I applaud them for putting Marguerite in the middle, giving us a breather from the intensity of the other four. I liked that it took its time presenting its theme, but I'm of two minds about the ending. I believe it's intended to be sweet, but Rachel's actions at the end seem a bit creepy at the end given our current understanding around consent. I did find this quite moving in spite of that, and still largely enjoyed it.

Detainment: Another hard one to watch, especially so given that it's based on actual events. While I didn't find it sympathetic towards the boys, as some have charged, it still felt exploitative and left me uncomfortable watching it. I'm not sure it really says enough to justify its lurid nature. Outstanding acting from the two principal actors, though.

Skin: This took a weird turn from a straight drama into... um, something else when Jeffrey is presumably kept captive and unconscious for several days (IIRC, there's a radio or TV in the background where we overhear "... has been missing for ten days ..."), which came off as unrealistic to me. And ultimately, I'm not sure that this film has much to say beyond "racism is bad, mmkay."

My pick: It's tempting to choose Marguerite largely out of contrast to the other four, but ultimately I think Madre — a tight, tense thriller — was the best of these.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:28 AM on February 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

NPR's Steve Inskeep's take:

posted by stchang at 8:20 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was an intense group of films. There's usually at least one film a year that's a tearjerker or funny. Not this time around, which probably says something about the psyche of the world at this moment.

The (non)ending of Madre made the theater gasp. I'm still not sure about it - in some ways this and Skin seem more like demo reels that are really meant to be the basis for full-length films.

One thing I found very striking about Fauve was the middle section where the main character is wandering around the mine? quarry? Each shot started with a view of the ground, but the viewer doesn't get a sense of the viewpoint & perspective of the camera until the character appears, and often the result is not what's expected - what looks like a close-up turns out to be a high and wide shot with the boy dwarfed by his surroundings, what looks like a vast vista is actually a close shot of a small rise that the boy towers over. Fascinating camerawork.

I saw this in a sort of "double-feature" in the theater with the Animation shorts, and between the two programs it really feels to me like the creative people behind the films this year are Gen X & Millenials. Not that older & younger generations don't have the same feelings about things, but in the aggregate the films this year were really hitting on themes of children in danger and adult relationships with parents - especially needing to care for older parents. Which are our real-life concerns right now. I think Marguerite tied into this, even though it's not a blood relationship.

While I get some of the concerns with Detainment, in my mind it's the winner because of the acting from everyone, not just the principal. But yeah, that was damn hard to watch.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:37 PM on February 10, 2019

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