The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live Action (2015)
February 18, 2015 12:35 PM - Subscribe

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

Where to see it

ParvanehFacebook pagetrailerIMDB
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak) • Facebook pagetrailerIMDB
The Phone CallwebsitetrailerIMDB
Boogaloo and GrahamwebsitetrailerIMDB
posted by DevilsAdvocate (3 comments total)
I was a little disappointed in this year's selections in that there wasn't one that jumped out as being excellent (as I feel has been the cast for the last few years). I really didn't like The Phone Call or Boogaloo and Graham, but I have trouble picking between the other three.

Parvaneh is probably the best, even if it's a little thin. But I mean, Aya doesn't have all that much more to it, especially considering that it's like twice as long. Butter Lamp is the real wild card here because it's just so weird for this category. If it didn't lack for subtlety at the end, I'd easily select it as my favorite.
posted by dogwalker at 12:59 PM on February 18, 2015

My thoughts:

Parvaneh: A young Afghani woman working in rural Switzerland travels to Zurich to send money to her family in Afghanistan. Not a bad film, with the best part being the lead actress.

Butter Lamp: An unusual film, told almost entirely in front of photographic backdrops as an itinerant photographer has come to small village to take pictures of ethnic Mongolian families. (I believe it's set in a part of China with an ethnic population, but that's probably not critical to the film anyway.) Through the first few families I was wondering if there was going to be any sort of plot. A very thin one did eventually develop, but it's not the main point of the film. As dogwalker says, the end is not subtle, but I didn't mind that in this case.

The Phone Call: The one out of this set I had seen previously, and the one with "name" stars, with Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, the latter in a voice-only role. Unlike dogwalker I liked this quite a bit, although it was a different experience seeing it this time, not long after seeing Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 in the documentary shorts program. The contrast between the real crisis hotline there and the fictionalized one in The Phone Call is striking, although I recognize the latter serves the narrative purpose of the film.

Aya: I had a "time" problem with this one in two different ways. First, the film itself is longer than it needs to be. Second, with the time within the film itself. Most of the film involves a drive from a major airport to Jerusalem. They leave in broad daylight, drive through dusk, and arrive in full darkness. When the sky is getting dim I'm starting to wonder just how far the airport is from their destination; judging by the changes in light one would think it would have been at least a couple of hours. Doing a bit of research afterwards, I found that a traveler to Jerusalem, especially an international one, is likely to fly into Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, and Google Maps tells me it's about a 45-minute drive from Ben-Gurion airport to Jerusalem. So I have trouble with the amount of time the main characters appear to spend in the car together.

Boogaloo and Graham: A mostly funny film, and it's nice to have some humor in the program, but I'm not sure it rises to the level of "Best."

My choice: I liked Parvaneh, Butter Lamp, and The Phone Call, but all in different ways, so it's hard to choose between them. I might give a slight edge to The Phone Call, if I had to choose.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:07 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

NPR blog post about Butter Lamp. And the film's subjects are Tibetan, not Mongolian - mea culpa.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:27 PM on February 21, 2015

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