The 89th Academy Awards held in 2017 presented a lineup of Short Film nominees that were a true reflection of the power of the medium. From heartwarming animated stories to gripping live-action dramas and eye-opening documentaries, the 2017 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest of emerging filmmakers.
Each film represented a unique perspective on the world and demonstrated an incredible level of creativity, technical mastery, and storytelling ability. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Best Short Film nominees of the 89th Academy Awards and explore what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.
These films showcase the incredible potential of the short film genre to entertain, educate, and inspire audiences around the world. Get ready to be moved and captivated by the magic of cinema and the talent of some of the most promising filmmakers of our time.
Animated Short Films
Piper, a 2016 animated short film directed by Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer, follows the journey of a young sandpiper bird who is afraid of the ocean. The film begins with the bird’s mother teaching her how to find food on the beach, but the waves scare the young bird, causing her to miss out on a meal. As the tide goes out, the bird discovers a whole new world of creatures and learns to overcome her fear of the ocean.
The main character, the young sandpiper, is a lovable and relatable character. Her fear of the ocean is something that many people can relate to, and her determination to overcome it is inspiring. The mother sandpiper is also a strong character, providing guidance and support to her young chick.
The visual style of Piper is stunning. The animators have created a world that is both realistic and whimsical. The attention to detail is impressive, with the sand and water looking almost photo-realistic. The use of lighting and color also adds to the overall beauty of the film.
The animation style contributes to the storytelling by immersing the viewer in the world of the sandpiper. The realistic animation makes the story feel more grounded, while the whimsical design of the characters and the world adds a sense of wonder and magic.
One scene that stood out to me was when the young sandpiper first discovers the creatures in the ocean. The way the animators portrayed the different creatures was both realistic and imaginative. Another standout moment was when the young sandpiper finally overcomes her fear of the ocean and is able to find food on her own.
Overall, Piper is a beautiful and heartwarming film that I highly recommend. It is a perfect film for all ages and anyone who loves animals or nature. The film was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and it is easy to see why.
Blind Vaysha is a visually stunning and emotionally gripping animated short film directed by Theodore Ushev. Nominated for an Academy Award in 2017, this film tells the story of a young girl named Vaysha who is born with a unique affliction: one eye can only see the past, while the other can only see the future.
As Vaysha grows up, she is unable to experience the present moment fully. She is tormented by the knowledge of what has already happened and what is yet to come, unable to fully engage with the world around her. Despite the efforts of her parents, she becomes increasingly isolated and disconnected from the world.
The animation style of Blind Vaysha is one of the most striking elements of the film. The use of black and white contrasts, combined with a hand-drawn aesthetic, creates a dreamlike quality that complements the surreal nature of the story. The characters are rendered in a minimalist style, allowing the focus to remain on the emotional journey of Vaysha.
The animation style also contributes to the storytelling in significant ways. The use of split-screen techniques allows the audience to see the world through Vaysha’s eyes, with one side showing the past and the other the future. This technique also creates a sense of tension and urgency, as the audience is constantly aware of what is coming next.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Vaysha encounters a wise old woman who teaches her to live in the present moment. The old woman’s advice is simple but profound, and the scene is beautifully rendered, with the use of color highlighting the transformative power of the moment.
Overall, Blind Vaysha is a powerful and thought-provoking film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. It is a film that speaks to the human experience of grappling with the past and future, and the importance of living in the present moment. I highly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates beautiful animation and a powerful story that will leave you thinking long after it’s over.
Borrowed Time, a 2016 animated short film directed by Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj, is a poignant and emotionally charged story about a sheriff who revisits a tragic event from his past. The film, which runs for just over six minutes, tells a powerful story that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
The animation style used in Borrowed Time is dark and gritty, which perfectly complements the film’s themes of grief and regret. The film’s visuals are stunning, with the use of light and shadow creating a haunting atmosphere that draws the viewer in. The animation style is also incredibly detailed, with every frame packed with small touches that add to the overall effect.
The main character in the film is a sheriff who is haunted by a tragic event from his past. The sheriff is a complex character who is struggling to come to terms with his grief and guilt. The film does an excellent job of exploring the sheriff’s emotions, and the viewer can’t help but feel empathy for him.
One of the standout scenes in Borrowed Time is the flashback sequence that shows the tragic event that the sheriff is struggling to come to terms with. The scene is incredibly powerful and emotionally charged, and it’s a testament to the filmmakers’ skill that they can convey so much in such a short amount of time.
Overall, Borrowed Time is a stunning and emotionally charged film that is sure to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. The film is recommended for anyone who enjoys animated shorts that are both visually stunning and emotionally engaging. However, due to the film’s themes of grief and regret, it may not be suitable for younger viewers.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pear Cider and Cigarettes is a 2016 animated short film directed by Cara Speller and Robert Valley. The film tells the story of a man named Techno who has a self-destructive lifestyle of heavy drinking and smoking. When Techno’s old friend, a Chinese artist named Jian, falls into a coma, Techno travels to China to help take care of him. The film explores the themes of friendship, addiction, and the consequences of our actions.
The animation style of Pear Cider and Cigarettes is strikingly unique. The film uses a combination of hand-drawn and digital animation, with bold lines and vibrant colors that give the characters a sense of depth and weight. The animation style is particularly effective in depicting the film’s many action sequences, which are fast-paced and visually stunning.
One scene that stands out is when Techno and Jian are driving through the Chinese countryside. The landscape is depicted in beautiful detail, with rolling hills and misty mountains in the distance. The scene is quiet and contemplative, with the sound of the car’s engine and the soft music on the radio creating a sense of peace and serenity.
Another standout moment is when Techno confronts his own mortality. He realizes that his lifestyle is killing him and that he needs to make a change. The scene is emotionally charged, with Techno’s inner turmoil portrayed through vivid imagery and haunting music.
Overall, Pear Cider and Cigarettes is a visually stunning and emotionally powerful film. The animation style contributes to the storytelling by creating a sense of depth and weight to the characters and their actions. The film is recommended for adults who enjoy animation and are interested in exploring themes of friendship, addiction, and the consequences of our actions.
Pearl is a beautiful and heartwarming animated short film directed by Patrick Osborne that was released in 2016. The film tells the story of a father and daughter who live in their car and travel across the country in search of a better life. The film’s main character is the daughter, who is also the narrator of the story. She tells the story of her life with her father, their struggles, and their dreams.
The animation style of Pearl is unique and adds to the storytelling in a significant way. The film is made using Google’s 360-degree virtual reality technology, which allows the viewer to experience the story from different angles. The animation is hand-drawn, and the characters are depicted as simple, round, and colorful shapes. The simplicity of the animation style allows the viewer to focus on the emotions and expressions of the characters, which are the heart of the story.
One of the most memorable scenes in Pearl is when the father and daughter sing a song together in their car. The scene is touching and beautifully animated, with the car and the road moving around them as they sing. Another standout moment is when the daughter looks up at the stars and imagines a future where she and her father have a house and a garden. The scene is magical and dreamlike, with the stars shining brightly in the night sky.
Overall, Pearl is a touching and emotional film that will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to achieve their dreams. The film is suitable for all ages, but its themes of family, love, and perseverance will especially resonate with children and parents. I highly recommend Pearl to anyone who appreciates beautiful animation and heartfelt storytelling. It’s a film that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted.
Live Action Short Films
Sing is a 2016 film directed by Kristóf Deák and Anna Udvardy, which explores the world of competitive choral singing. The film follows the journey of the award-winning Budapest-based choir, the Vaszy Viktor Children’s Choir, as they prepare for the International Choir Festival in South Korea.
The film takes an intimate look at the lives of the choir members and their dedicated choir director, Ágnes Zsigmond. Through the lens of the camera, we witness the rigorous training and rehearsals that the children undergo to perfect their harmonies and stage presence.
The visual style of Sing is stunning, with vivid colors and stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of the choir’s performances. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by immersing the viewer in the world of choral singing and showcasing the hard work and dedication that goes into creating a perfect performance.
One of the most memorable scenes in Sing is when the choir performs a rendition of the Hungarian folk song “Tavasz, Tavasz” at the International Choir Festival. The camera captures the joy and pride on the children’s faces as they sing in front of a large audience, and the audience’s enthusiastic response is infectious.
Overall, Sing is an inspiring and uplifting film that celebrates the power of music and the dedication of young artists. It’s a film that will appeal to anyone who appreciates the beauty of choral singing or wants to be inspired by the passion and hard work of young performers. I highly recommend Sing to anyone looking for a heartwarming and uplifting experience.
Ennemis Intérieurs is a 2016 French-language film directed by Sélim Azzazi, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. The film takes place in the 1990s and follows a conversation between an Algerian immigrant seeking citizenship and a French police officer tasked with investigating his application. The officer accuses the immigrant of being involved with a terrorist group, leading to a tense interrogation that delves into the complexities of post-colonial France.
The film’s style and cinematography are major contributors to its storytelling. The entire film takes place in a single room, with the two characters sitting across from each other. The camera angles and lighting are used to create an intense atmosphere, as the viewer is drawn into the conversation between the two men. The close-ups of the faces of the characters and the use of shadows add to the tension of the scene.
One of the most memorable moments of the film is when the police officer asks the Algerian immigrant to name his parents. The immigrant hesitates, unsure of how to answer, and the officer accuses him of lying. This scene highlights the difficulties that immigrants face in France, as they are often forced to prove their loyalty to the country they live in, even if they were born there.
Overall, Ennemis Intérieurs is a thought-provoking and powerful film that sheds light on the complexities of post-colonial France. The film is recommended for anyone interested in exploring the issues of immigration, nationalism, and identity. However, due to its intense subject matter, the film may not be suitable for younger audiences.
La femme et le TGV
La femme et le TGV, directed by Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff, is a charming and heartwarming film that tells the story of Elise Lafontaine, a woman who has been waving at passing trains for over 30 years. The film was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
Elise, played by Jane Birkin, is a lonely woman who lives in a small town in Switzerland and runs a bakery. Every day, she wakes up early to wave at the TGV train that passes by her house, and she has been doing this for over three decades. One day, she receives a letter from the train’s conductor, which sparks a heartwarming friendship between the two.
The film’s style and cinematography are simple yet effective in conveying the story. The camera work is steady, and the shots are well-framed, which allows the audience to focus on the story and the characters. The filmmakers also use a lot of close-ups, which helps to convey the emotions of the characters.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Elise and the train conductor exchange letters and gifts. The scene is shot in a way that conveys the joy and excitement of both characters, and it’s impossible not to be moved by their genuine connection. Another standout moment is when Elise finally meets the train conductor in person. The scene is beautifully shot, and the emotions of both characters are palpable.
Overall, La femme et le TGV is a delightful and heartwarming film that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired. The film is recommended for anyone who loves feel-good stories and simple yet effective storytelling.
Silent Nights, directed by Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson, is a heartwarming and touching film that explores the lives of two individuals from different worlds who come together in a unique way. The film follows the story of Inger, a middle-aged Danish woman who volunteers at a homeless shelter, and Kwame, a young homeless man from Ghana who seeks refuge at the shelter.
Through their shared experiences and a blossoming romance, the film delves into themes of love, cultural differences, and the struggles faced by those living on the margins of society. The documentary also touches on issues of immigration and xenophobia, as Kwame faces the threat of deportation.
The film’s style and cinematography are integral to the storytelling, as the directors use a mix of handheld and stationary shots to capture intimate moments between Inger and Kwame. The use of natural lighting and the contrast between the warm, cozy interiors of the shelter and the cold, dark streets of Copenhagen adds to the emotional impact of the film.
One of the standout moments in the film is when Inger takes Kwame to her home to celebrate Christmas. The scene is filled with warmth and love as Inger’s family embraces Kwame, despite their initial reservations about his presence. Another notable scene is when Kwame shares his story of leaving Ghana and the struggles he faced on his journey to Denmark.
Overall, Silent Nights is a moving and thought-provoking film that offers a unique perspective on the lives of those who are often overlooked in society. It is a film that would appeal to a wide audience, particularly those interested in stories of human connection and social justice. I highly recommend it.
Timecode, directed by Juanjo Giménez, is a mesmerizing and heartfelt film that was nominated for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. The film tells the story of Luna and Diego, two security guards who work in a parking garage in Spain. Luna works the day shift, while Diego works the night shift. They have never met, but their lives become intertwined through a series of coincidences and chance encounters.
The film’s visual style is stunning, with beautiful cinematography and a unique use of split-screen. The split-screen is used to show both Luna and Diego’s perspectives simultaneously, allowing the viewer to see how their lives intersect and overlap. This technique adds depth and complexity to the storytelling, making the film feel more immersive and engaging.
One of the most striking scenes in the film is when Luna discovers Diego’s secret passion for dancing. She watches him on the security cameras as he performs a beautiful and emotional dance in the empty parking garage. This scene is both powerful and poignant, highlighting the beauty and artistry that can be found in even the most mundane of jobs.
Overall, Timecode is a remarkable and moving film that is sure to captivate and inspire audiences. The film’s unique visual style and heartfelt storytelling make it a must-see for anyone who loves great cinema. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant viewing experience.
In terms of audience, Timecode will appeal to anyone who appreciates great storytelling and innovative filmmaking. It is a film that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt trapped in a dead-end job or who has been inspired to pursue their passions in spite of the odds. Whether you are a seasoned film buff or a casual viewer, Timecode is a film that is not to be missed.
Documentary Short Films
The White Helmets
The White Helmets, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, is a gripping and emotional documentary that sheds light on the heroic efforts of a group of Syrian rescue workers. The film follows the daily lives of the White Helmets, a volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives in war-torn Syria.
The White Helmets are a group of ordinary citizens who have taken it upon themselves to rescue their fellow Syrians from the rubble and destruction caused by the ongoing civil war. The film highlights the bravery of these individuals, who risk their own lives to save others in the midst of a conflict that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The documentary is shot in a raw and intimate style, with the camera often following the White Helmets into the heart of the conflict. The filmmakers use stunning cinematography to capture the devastation and destruction that surrounds the White Helmets, and the emotional toll it takes on them.
One of the most powerful moments in the film is when the White Helmets rescue a baby from a building that has been bombed. The scene is shot in real-time, and the tension and emotion are palpable as the rescue workers race against time to save the infant. It is a moment that truly captures the heroism and selflessness of the White Helmets.
Overall, The White Helmets is a must-see documentary that provides a rare glimpse into the lives of those affected by the Syrian conflict. The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling, and the emotional impact of the film is undeniable. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in the ongoing conflict in Syria, and to anyone who wants to witness the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Extremis, directed by Dan Krauss, is a heart-wrenching documentary that takes an unflinching look at the difficult decisions that families face when it comes to end-of-life care. The film follows Dr. Jessica Zitter, an ICU physician at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California, as she works with patients and their families to navigate the complex and emotional process of deciding whether to continue life-sustaining treatment or let a loved one pass peacefully.
The film’s style is intimate and raw, with close-up shots of patients and their families that capture the intense emotions of the moment. The cinematography is unobtrusive, allowing the subjects to tell their own stories without interference. The film’s score is minimal, which adds to the feeling of intimacy and allows the viewer to focus on the dialogue.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Dr. Zitter meets with a patient’s family to discuss the difficult decision of whether to continue treatment. The family is torn between wanting to do everything possible to keep their loved one alive and wanting to honor their wishes for a peaceful death. The scene is emotional and raw, with the family members expressing their fears and concerns while Dr. Zitter offers guidance and support.
Another standout moment in the film is when Dr. Zitter talks about the importance of “seeing the patient as a person, not a diagnosis.” This idea is at the core of the film, as it emphasizes the importance of treating patients with dignity and respect, regardless of their medical condition.
Overall, Extremis is a powerful and thought-provoking film that offers a glimpse into the complex world of end-of-life care. While the subject matter is heavy, the film’s intimate style and honest portrayal of the difficult decisions that families face make it a must-see for anyone interested in healthcare, ethics, or human nature. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a powerful and emotional documentary that will stay with them long after the credits roll. However, due to the intense subject matter, this film may not be suitable for all audiences.
4.1 Miles is a gripping and heart-wrenching documentary directed by Daphne Matziaraki that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2017. The film takes place on the Greek island of Lesbos, where thousands of refugees arrive every day, fleeing from the war in Syria. The story follows Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek Coast Guard, who is responsible for rescuing refugees from the treacherous sea crossing between Turkey and Greece.
The film’s style and cinematography are both powerful and effective in conveying the harrowing reality of the refugee crisis. The camera work is raw and unfiltered, capturing the desperation and fear of the refugees as they cling to life in the open sea. The use of sound design is also exceptional, with the sound of the wind and waves creating a sense of unease and danger.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Papadopoulos and his crew encounter a boat full of refugees in the middle of the night. The boat is overcrowded and sinking, and the refugees are screaming for help. Papadopoulos and his crew work tirelessly to rescue as many people as they can, but the situation is dire, and not everyone makes it out alive.
Another powerful moment in the film is when Papadopoulos breaks down in tears after rescuing a young boy from the sea. The emotional impact of the scene is palpable, and it highlights the toll that the refugee crisis has taken on those who are tasked with saving lives.
Overall, 4.1 Miles is a must-see documentary that shines a light on the refugee crisis and the heroic efforts of those who are working to save lives. The film is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of compassion. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in current events, social justice, and human rights. It is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Joe’s Violin is a 2016 documentary directed by Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen. The film follows the unlikely friendship between Joe Feingold, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, and Brianna Perez, a 12-year-old girl from the Bronx. The two are brought together by a violin that Joe donates to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls. The film explores the power of music and how it can connect people from different backgrounds and generations.
The film’s style and cinematography play a significant role in the storytelling. The filmmakers use a mix of archival footage, interviews, and scenes of Joe and Brianna interacting to create a poignant and emotional narrative. The use of close-ups on the faces of Joe and Brianna during their conversations adds a sense of intimacy and vulnerability to the film. The filmmakers also use shots of New York City to establish a sense of place and to show the contrast between Joe’s upper-class lifestyle and Brianna’s working-class neighborhood.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Brianna visits Joe’s apartment for the first time. She is amazed by his collection of books and artwork, and Joe shares stories about his life and experiences during the Holocaust. The scene is touching, as it shows the connection that Brianna and Joe have formed through their love of music and their shared experiences of overcoming adversity.
Overall, Joe’s Violin is a heartwarming and inspiring film that will appeal to anyone who loves music and believes in the power of human connection. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of preserving our history and culture. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking and uplifting documentary.
Watani: My Homeland
Watani: My Homeland is a 2016 documentary that tells the heart-wrenching story of a Syrian family’s journey from war-torn Aleppo to their eventual resettlement in Germany. Directed by Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis, the film is a moving portrayal of the devastating impact of war on innocent civilians.
The film follows the journey of the Alkhateeb family, who were forced to flee their home in Aleppo in 2013 after the Syrian civil war broke out. The family consists of four children and their parents, who are all deeply affected by the conflict. The father, Abu Ali, is a Free Syrian Army fighter who is forced to leave his family behind to fight for their freedom. The mother, Hala, is left to care for her children in the midst of constant bombing and violence.
The film’s visual style is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the Syrian countryside and intimate moments with the family. The filmmakers use a combination of handheld and drone cameras to capture the chaos and destruction of the war, as well as the emotional moments of the family’s journey. The film is edited in a way that creates a sense of urgency and tension, as the family’s fate hangs in the balance.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the family is reunited in Germany after spending two years apart. The children, who have not seen their father in years, are overwhelmed with emotion as they embrace him. The scene is a testament to the strength of family bonds and the resilience of the human spirit.
Overall, Watani: My Homeland is a deeply moving and important film that sheds light on the human cost of war. The filmmakers do an excellent job of capturing the family’s journey and the impact of the conflict on their lives. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in understanding the Syrian refugee crisis and the toll it takes on families. This film would be particularly impactful for audiences who are interested in social justice and human rights issues.
2017 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – Sing
Animated – Piper
Documentary – The White Helmets