The 90th Academy Awards held in 2018 had a phenomenal selection of Short Film nominees, each showcasing the incredible range and depth of the short film genre.
From emotionally-charged live-action dramas to whimsical animated tales and thought-provoking documentaries, the 2018 Oscars Short Film category was a testament to the power of concise storytelling and creative ingenuity.
In this article, we will delve into the Best Short Film nominees of the 90th Academy Awards and explore what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.
These films demonstrate the incredible skill and vision of some of the most talented filmmakers in the world, as well as the ability of short films to entertain, educate, and inspire audiences on a global scale.
Get ready to be captivated by the magic of cinema and the incredible talents of these emerging filmmakers.
Animated Short Films
Dear Basketball is a heartwarming animated short film directed by Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant.
The film was released in 2017 and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category. It is based on a poem written by Kobe Bryant in 2015, in which he announced his retirement from basketball.
The film follows the journey of a young Kobe Bryant, who dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. As he grows older, he faces many challenges and setbacks, but his passion and love for the game never waver.
The film showcases the highs and lows of Bryant’s career, including his five championships and the injuries that ultimately led to his retirement. The main character is, of course, Kobe Bryant, who narrates the film and provides the voiceover for the poem.
The animation style of the film is a beautiful blend of hand-drawn animation and computer-generated imagery. which contributes greatly to the storytelling. The visuals are stunning, with vibrant colors and fluid movements that bring the story to life.
The hand-drawn animation gives the film a personal and intimate feel as if we are being taken on a journey through Bryant’s memories. The computer-generated imagery adds depth and texture, making the basketball scenes feel almost lifelike.
One of the standout scenes features a young Kobe Bryant practicing his basketball skills in the rain. The animation in this scene is particularly impressive, with raindrops falling all around him and his movements captured in slow motion. This scene perfectly captures the dedication and passion that Bryant had for the game of basketball.
Overall, Dear Basketball is a beautifully crafted film that tells the story of one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The animation is stunning, the storytelling is engaging, and the message of the film is inspiring.
I would highly recommend this film to anyone, whether they are a basketball fan or not. It is something that will resonate with anyone who has ever had a dream and worked tirelessly to achieve it.
Garden Party, directed by Victor Caire & Gabriel Grapperon, is a visually stunning and intriguing animated short film that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2018.
It takes place in a luxurious mansion, where a group of frogs are exploring the gardens and pool area. The frogs are enjoying themselves, but it becomes apparent that something has gone wrong in the mansion.
The mystery of what happened in the mansion is slowly revealed throughout the film, and the frogs eventually discover a shocking revelation.
The animation style of Garden Party is incredibly realistic, with each frog and environment rendered in exquisite detail, creating a sense of immersion and believability. The frogs move realistically, and the environment is rendered in a way that makes it feel like a real location. The attention to detail in the animation is impressive, and it makes the story all the more captivating.
One of the standout scenes is when the frogs start to explore the mansion and discover the clues that lead to the revelation of what happened. The tension builds as the frogs discover more and more, and the audience is left wondering what they will find next.
Another memorable moment is when the frogs start to interact with the objects in the mansion, such as a champagne bottle and a gun.
Garden Party is a visually stunning and engaging animated short film that is sure to captivate audiences. The attention to detail in the animation, coupled with the intriguing plot, makes for a compelling viewing experience.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys animation or mystery stories. The film would be particularly enjoyable for adults, as the themes and storyline are more mature than those found in most animated films.
Lou is a charming and heartwarming animated short film directed by Dave Mullins and Dana Murray. Released in 2017, the film was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
The film opens on a playground where a group of children are playing. One of the children, J.J., is a bully who takes toys and other belongings from his classmates.
However, J.J. meets his match in Lou, a creature made of lost and found items from the playground’s lost and found box. Lou is determined to teach J.J. a lesson about kindness and empathy.
The animation style in Lou is beautifully done, with the characters and settings appearing almost lifelike. The attention to detail is also impressive, with each object in Lou’s character design identifiable as a lost and found item.
The animation style also plays a significant role in the storytelling, and the children’s interactions with each other add to the overall sense of realism and relatability.
There are several standout moments in Lou, but a particularly special one is when Lou first reveals himself to J.J. The look of surprise and wonder on J.J.’s face is palpable, and it’s a moment that perfectly captures the film’s central message of the power of kindness.
Lou is a delightful and heartwarming film that is sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. It’s a film that is particularly well-suited for children, as it teaches valuable lessons about empathy and kindness in a way that is both entertaining and accessible.
I recommend Lou to anyone looking for a heartwarming and visually stunning short film.
Negative Space is a 2017 animated short film directed by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter. It is based on the poem of the same name by Ron Koertge.
The film follows a man named Sam who, through the memories of his father, reflects on the ritual of packing a suitcase for a trip.
The film’s animation style is stop-motion which adds a tactile quality to the film, emphasizing the physical act of packing a suitcase.
The attention to detail is impressive with miniature sets and puppets in the suitcase meticulously crafted and placed. This adds to the emotional weight of the film, as each object in the suitcase holds a memory for Sam. Moreover, the use of muted colors and lighting adds to the melancholic tone of the film.
The main character, Sam, is voiced by Albert Birney, who delivers a subdued and introspective performance. The film’s narration, provided by the poem, is read by the poet himself, Ron Koertge.
One scene that stood out to me was when Sam describes how his father taught him to pack a suitcase. The camera pans over a set of a bed, with the father and son sitting side by side. The lighting is warm and intimate, emphasizing the bond between the two characters.
Another stand-out moment is when Sam describes the feeling of closing a suitcase, and the camera cuts to a close-up of his hand, slowly pushing down the lid. The sound design in this scene is particularly effective, with the sound of the suitcase closing emphasizing the finality of the act.
Negative Space is a poignant and beautifully crafted film. The attention to detail in the animation and the subdued performances by the actors make for a powerful viewing experience.
I would recommend this film to anyone who appreciates the artistry of stop-motion animation, as well as those who enjoy introspective and melancholic storytelling.
Revolting Rhymes is a 2017 animated short film that was directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film tells the story of some of the most famous fairy tales in a unique and twisted way.
The film is divided into two parts, each one telling a different story. The first part is about Little Red Riding Hood, while the second part is about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, the plot is not the same as the original fairy tales. The filmmakers have added some unexpected twists that will keep the viewers on the edge of their seats.
The main characters of the film are Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, the Evil Queen, and the Seven Dwarfs. Each character has a unique personality that is portrayed perfectly through animation and voice acting.
The animation style creates an atmosphere that is both magical and unsettling. The characters are designed in a way that is both cute and creepy at the same time. The backgrounds are beautifully painted, and the attention to detail is impressive.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are dancing together. The animation and music in this scene are delightful and will leave the viewers with a smile on their faces.
Revolting Rhymes is a witty, charming, and visually stunning film that is perfect for both children and adults. The unexpected twists in the plot will keep the viewers engaged from start to finish so I highly recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales with a twist.
Live Action Short Films
The Silent Child
The Silent Child is a heart-wrenching and beautifully crafted documentary that explores the life of a deaf child named Libby.
Directed by Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton, the film follows the journey of Libby as she struggles to find her place in a world that often overlooks those with disabilities.
At the center of the film is Libby, a young girl who was born deaf. Despite her loving family’s best efforts, Libby feels isolated and alone, unable to connect with the world around her. Her parents, Joanne and Paul, are determined to give her the best possible life, but they soon realize that they need help. Enter Maisie Sly, a deaf actress who plays a vital role in Libby’s life, helping her to find her voice and connect with the world.
The film’s visual style is simple yet powerful, using close-ups and intimate shots to highlight the emotional intensity of each scene. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the beauty of the English countryside and the raw emotion of the characters.
One of the most striking scenes in the film is when Maisie teaches Libby how to sign her name. It’s a small moment, but it’s incredibly powerful, showing how even the simplest of things can have a profound impact on someone’s life.
Another standout moment is when Libby’s parents attend a meeting about her education and are shocked to discover how little support there is for deaf children in the education system.
The Silent Child is a must-see film that offers a poignant and thought-provoking glimpse into the world of deaf children. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by immersing the viewer in the emotional journey of the characters. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in exploring issues of disability, communication, and the power of human connection.
This film would particularly appeal to audiences who enjoy documentaries that are both informative and emotionally engaging.
The Silent Child was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film in 2018.
DeKalb Elementary is a 2017 documentary directed by Reed Van Dyk that tells the story of a school shooting from a unique perspective.
The film is inspired by a true story and takes place in a real elementary school in Georgia.
The film follows the story of a disturbed young man who enters an elementary school with a gun and holds the staff and students hostage. The story is told from the perspective of the school’s receptionist, Cassandra (Tarra Riggs), who is the first person the shooter encounters when he enters the building.
The shooter, played by Bo Mitchell, is a troubled young man who is clearly in distress. Cassandra tries to talk him down and keep the situation under control until the police arrive.
The film’s visual style is simple and realistic, with a focus on the faces of the characters and their emotional reactions. The camera often lingers on the faces of the actors, capturing their fear, confusion, and desperation. This creates an intense and emotional viewing experience that draws the audience into the story.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the shooter reveals that he is a victim of bullying and has been pushed to the brink of despair. This moment humanizes the shooter and makes the audience empathize with his pain, even as they condemn his actions.
Another standout moment features Cassandra on the phone with the 911 operator, trying to keep the shooter calm while also conveying the urgency of the situation. The tension in this scene is palpable, and the audience is left on the edge of their seats as they wait to see how the situation will unfold.
DeKalb Elementary is a powerful and emotional film that tackles a difficult subject matter with sensitivity and nuance. The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating an intense and emotional viewing experience that draws the audience into the story.
I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in exploring complex social issues and the human experience.
The Eleven O’Clock
The Eleven O’Clock is a hilarious and clever documentary that was directed by Derin Seale and Josh Lawson.
The film follows a psychiatrist who is about to see his last patient of the day, but when the patient arrives, he claims to be a psychiatrist as well. The two engage in a battle of wits and power struggles, each trying to prove that the other is insane.
The film’s style and cinematography are essential to the storytelling, as it is shot entirely in one room, using close-ups and medium shots to convey the tension and comedy between the two characters. The use of tight framing also adds to the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck in a room with two people who are arguing.
One of the most standout scenes is when the two characters engage in a word association game, which quickly devolves into a heated argument. The scene is brilliantly written and acted, and it perfectly captures the absurdity of the situation.
The Eleven O’Clock is a fantastic documentary that will have you laughing from start to finish. It’s an excellent example of how a simple premise can be executed flawlessly, and it showcases the talents of its two lead actors.
This film would appeal to those who love witty humor and clever writing. It’s a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat with its fast-paced dialogue and excellent performances. Overall, it’s a must-watch for anyone looking for a good laugh and a unique story.
My Nephew Emmett
My Nephew Emmett is a gripping and heart-wrenching documentary that tells the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was brutally lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
Directed by Kevin Wilson Jr., the film explores the events leading up to Emmett’s murder, as well as the aftermath and impact it had on the Civil Rights Movement.
The film’s main focus is on Emmett’s uncle, Mose Wright, who was the last person to see Emmett alive. Wright bravely testified against the two white men who killed his nephew, despite the danger it posed to himself and his family.
Through interviews with Wright’s family members and other Civil Rights activists, the film paints a vivid picture of the fear and violence that plagued the South during this time.
One of the most striking aspects of My Nephew Emmett is its use of cinematography and visual style to tell the story. The film is shot in black and white, which adds to the haunting and somber tone. The camera often lingers on close-ups of the faces of the interviewees, capturing their pain and grief in a way that words cannot.
There are several scenes in the film that stood out to me as particularly powerful. One is when Wright recounts the night that Emmett was taken from his home. His voice quivers with emotion as he describes the terror he felt, knowing that his nephew was in danger.
Another moment that stuck with me is when Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, describes the decision to have an open-casket funeral so that the world could see the brutality of her son’s death.
My Nephew Emmett is a deeply moving and important documentary that sheds light on a tragic moment in American history. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the Civil Rights Movement or the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States.
While the subject matter is heavy and emotional, the film is expertly crafted and will leave a lasting impact on viewers. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be challenged and moved by a powerful piece of filmmaking.
Watu Wote: All of Us
Watu Wote: All of Us is a 2017 documentary that was directed by Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen.
The film is based on a true story that occurred in 2015 when a group of terrorists attacked a bus in Kenya. The film depicts the story of a Christian woman who was traveling on the bus, and the Muslim passengers who protected her from the terrorists.
The film’s visual style is simple yet effective, with beautiful cinematography that captures the essence of the Kenyan landscape. The use of natural light and the attention to detail in the framing of each shot help to create a sense of realism that draws the viewer into the story.
The main characters in the film are the passengers on the bus, particularly the Christian woman and the Muslim passengers who protect her. The film explores the themes of religious conflict, forgiveness, and the power of unity in the face of adversity.
The cinematography contributes to the storytelling by allowing the viewer to feel like they are a part of the story. The use of close-ups and medium shots helps to create a sense of intimacy with the characters, which allows the viewer to connect with them on a deeper level.
One scene that stood out was when the Muslim passengers decided to offer their hijabs to the Christian woman to help her hide her identity from the terrorists. This moment highlights the power of unity and the willingness of people to put aside their differences to help one another in times of need.
Watu Wote: All of Us is a powerful and moving film that explores important themes of religious conflict and unity.
The film is recommended for anyone who enjoys documentaries that are based on true stories and those who are interested in exploring themes of forgiveness. The film is a testament to the power of human compassion and the importance of coming together in times of crisis.
Documentary Short Films
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is a 2017 documentary that explores the life and work of artist Mindy Alper. Directed by Frank Stiefel, the film takes viewers on an emotional journey through Alper’s struggles with mental illness, her experiences with art therapy, and her rise to success in the art world.
The film’s main subject, Mindy Alper, is a fascinating and complex character. Alper’s life has been marked by a series of traumas, including childhood abuse, severe anxiety, and depression.
Despite these challenges, she has found solace and purpose in creating art. The film showcases some of Alper’s most powerful and moving works, which often reflect her innermost thoughts and emotions.
Stiefel’s visual style is a key element of the film’s storytelling. The documentary features a mix of interviews with Alper, her family and friends, and art professionals, as well as footage of Alper at work in her studio.
Stiefel’s use of close-ups and intimate camera angles allows viewers to connect with Alper on a deeper level, and the film’s use of animation and other visual effects helps to bring Alper’s art to life.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is a conversation between Alper and her therapist, in which Alper talks candidly about her struggles with mental illness. The scene is shot in a way that makes viewers feel like they are in the room with Alper and her therapist, and it provides a rare and honest glimpse into the realities of living with mental illness.
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged documentary that will leave viewers feeling moved and inspired. While the film is a must-see for anyone interested in art or mental health, it will also appeal to anyone looking for a powerful and inspiring story about the human experience.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to be moved, inspired, and uplifted by a truly remarkable story.
Edith+Eddie, a 2017 documentary directed by Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright, is a heart-wrenching tale of love, family, and the legal system.
The film follows the story of Edith Hill and Eddie Harrison, two African American elders who fall in love and get married at the age of 96 and 95 respectively. The couple’s happiness is short-lived as their marriage is challenged by Edith’s daughters, who want to move their mother from her Virginia home to Florida against her wishes.
The film’s style and cinematography are simple yet effective in conveying the emotional weight of the story. The filmmakers use a mix of home videos, candid interviews, and courtroom footage to create a sense of intimacy with the audience. The film’s visual style is raw and unpolished, which adds to the authenticity of the story.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Edith and Eddie are separated by court order, and Eddie is forced to live with his daughter in Florida while Edith stays in Virginia. The filmmakers capture the raw emotion of the couple as they are torn apart, and the audience is left feeling the pain and heartbreak of the situation.
Edith+Eddie is a beautiful and heartbreaking film that sheds light on the challenges faced by aging couples and the flaws of the legal system. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in human stories and the complexities of family dynamics.
While the film may be difficult to watch at times, it is ultimately a powerful testament to the enduring power of love. I highly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates powerful storytelling.
Heroin(e) is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon. The film delves into the opioid epidemic that has been ravaging the United States for years, focusing specifically on the small town of Huntington, West Virginia.
With an unflinching gaze, Heroin(e) explores the devastating impact of addiction on individuals, families, and communities, while also highlighting the tireless efforts of those working to combat it.
The film follows three women who are on the front lines of the battle against the opioid epidemic. Jan Rader, the city’s first female fire chief, responds to overdose calls daily. Patricia Keller, a drug court judge, works to help addicts turn their lives around through rehabilitation and accountability. Necia Freeman, a street missionary, provides outreach and support to women who are struggling with addiction and sex work.
What sets Heroin(e) apart from other documentaries about addiction is its visual style. The film is shot with a stunning, almost cinematic quality, with beautiful and haunting imagery that captures both the beauty and the tragedy of the town.
The cinematography is especially effective in showing the stark contrast between the natural beauty of the area and the devastation wrought by addiction.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Jan Rader responds to an overdose call and finds a young mother slumped over in a car with her child in the backseat. The scene is heart-wrenching, as Rader tries to revive the mother while the child cries in the background. It’s a stark reminder of the toll that addiction takes on families, and the urgency of finding solutions.
Heroin(e) is a deeply affecting and important film that sheds light on an issue that has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. The filmmakers have done an incredible job of presenting a nuanced and compassionate portrait of addiction, while also highlighting the bravery and resilience of those working to combat it.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in social justice issues, or who wants to gain a better understanding of the opioid epidemic.
Knife Skills is a 2017 documentary directed by Thomas Lennon that tells the story of a unique restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, called Edwins, which is staffed almost entirely by former prison inmates.
The film follows the restaurant’s owner, Brandon Chrostowski, as he recruits and trains his staff and prepares to open the restaurant.
One of the main subjects of the film is the process of rehabilitation and reintegration into society for former inmates. The film shows the challenges faced by these individuals as they try to find employment and build a new life after serving their time. It also highlights the importance of second chances and the potential for redemption.
The visual style of the film is simple, with a focus on the characters and their stories. The cinematography is intimate, with close-ups of the staff members and their interactions with each other and the food.
The film uses a mix of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and scenes from the restaurant to tell its story. The viewer can see the staff members as individuals with their own unique stories and struggles, rather than just as former inmates.
The focus on the food and the restaurant also adds a layer of complexity to the story, highlighting the skill and dedication required to run a successful restaurant.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the staff members are introduced to the restaurant’s investors. The nervousness and excitement of the staff is palpable, and it’s clear that this moment means more to them than just a job.
Another standout moment is when one of the staff members, who had never cooked before, successfully prepares a dish and receives praise from the head chef.
Knife Skills is a moving and inspiring documentary that offers a unique perspective on rehabilitation and reintegration. It’s a film that will appeal to anyone interested in social justice, food, or human stories. I highly recommend it.
Traffic Stop is a 2017 documentary directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner that chronicles the story of Breaion King, a black elementary school teacher who was violently arrested by a white police officer in Austin, Texas.
The film is a powerful and thought-provoking examination of racial profiling and police brutality in America.
The documentary is primarily focused on Breaion King, who is an engaging and charismatic subject. Her personal story of being a victim of police brutality is interwoven with interviews with experts and scholars who provide context and analysis of the broader issues at play. The film also features footage of the police officer’s dashcam video of the arrest, which is both shocking and disturbing.
The filmmakers utilize a mix of techniques to tell the story, including interviews, archival footage, and reenactments. The film’s visual style is raw and gritty, which effectively captures the tension and emotion of the story. The use of slow-motion footage and close-ups also adds to the film’s impact.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Breaion King is speaking with a group of young black men about her experience. The conversation is both heartbreaking and inspiring, as King shares her story and the men offer their perspectives on race and policing in America.
Traffic Stop is a powerful and important documentary that sheds light on a critical issue in America today. While it is difficult to watch at times, it is a film that should be seen by everyone.
I highly recommend it to anyone interested in social justice issues, especially those concerned with racial inequality and police brutality.
2018 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – The Silent Child
Animated – Dear Basketball
Documentary – Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405