The 91st Academy Awards held in 2019 had an outstanding selection of Short Film nominees, each one showcasing a unique blend of creativity, storytelling, and technical mastery.
From inspiring documentaries to captivating animated shorts and poignant live-action dramas, the 2019 Oscars Short Film category celebrated the best and brightest emerging talents in the film industry.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Best Short Film nominees of the 91st Academy Awards and explore what made each of them stand out in their respective categories.
From tackling relevant social issues to exploring new frontiers in animation and filmmaking, these films prove that short can indeed be sweet and impactful. Get ready to be swept away by the magic of cinema and the ingenuity of some of the most talented filmmakers in the world.
Animated Short Films
Bao is a heartwarming and visually stunning animated short film directed by Becky Neiman-Cobb and Domee Shi. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2019.
The film tells the story of a Chinese-Canadian woman who is feeling empty and alone after her son moves out of the house. One day, she makes a batch of bao (a type of Chinese dumpling) and one of the dumplings comes to life as a cute and chubby little boy. The woman takes care of the dumpling as if it’s her own child, but as the boy grows up, she realizes that she has to let him go.
The animation style of Bao is a unique blend of traditional Chinese and modern Western styles. The characters are drawn in a simple and cute way, with exaggerated facial expressions that add to the humor and emotional impact of the story. The colors are bright and vibrant, with a lot of reds and yellows that evoke the warmth and comfort of a home-cooked meal.
One of the most impressive aspects of the animation is how it uses food as a metaphor for family and culture. The bao represents the woman’s love and nurturing instincts, as well as her Chinese heritage. The film also explores the generational divide between immigrant parents and their Canadian-born children, and how food can bridge that gap.
There are several scenes in Bao that are particularly memorable. The opening sequence, which shows the woman making the bao, is beautifully animated and sets the tone for the rest of the film. The scenes of the woman and the dumpling bonding over meals are adorable and funny, and the moment when the dumpling turns into a real boy is both shocking and heartwarming. The climax of the film, when the woman has to say goodbye to the boy, is emotional and bittersweet.
Overall, Bao is a charming and poignant film that will resonate with anyone who has experienced the joys and challenges of family life. It’s a great choice for both adults and children, and it’s a testament to the power of animation to tell complex and meaningful stories. I highly recommend it.
Animal Behaviour is a delightful animated short film that was directed by David Fine and Alison Snowden. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 2019 and has since become a favorite among animation enthusiasts. The film tells the story of a group of animals who attend a therapy session to deal with their various issues.
The main characters include a leech who struggles with attachment issues, a praying mantis who is dealing with her aggression, a pig who has an eating disorder, a bird with OCD, and a gorilla who is struggling with his masculinity. These animals are all brought together by their therapist, a dog named Dr. Clement, who tries to help them navigate their problems.
The animation style of Animal Behaviour is truly unique and contributes greatly to the storytelling. The characters are all drawn in a simple and cartoonish style, but their movements and expressions are incredibly realistic. This juxtaposition creates a sense of whimsy that is both charming and captivating.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when the gorilla has a breakthrough and starts to cry. The animation perfectly captures the raw emotion of the character, and the use of color and lighting creates a truly moving moment. Another memorable scene is when the pig is triggered by the sight of a cupcake and starts to spiral out of control. The animation perfectly captures the chaos of the moment, and the use of sound design adds to the sense of unease.
Overall, Animal Behaviour is a fantastic short film that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It is a must-see for anyone who loves animation and is interested in exploring the complexities of human (and animal) behavior. While the film may be geared towards adults, it is still accessible to children and can be enjoyed by the whole family. I highly recommend giving it a watch.
Late Afternoon is a heartwarming and emotional animated short film that was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards. Directed by Louise Bagnall and Nuria González Blanco, this 10-minute film tells the story of an elderly woman named Emily who is living with dementia.
The film begins with Emily sitting in her armchair, looking out the window as the world goes by. However, as her memories start to resurface, she is transported back in time to various moments in her life. We see glimpses of her childhood, her relationship with her mother, her wedding day, and the birth of her daughter. As Emily moves through these memories, we see the impact they have had on her life and her relationships.
The animation style of Late Afternoon is simple yet effective. The use of soft colors and a hand-drawn style creates a nostalgic and dreamlike atmosphere that perfectly captures the emotions of the story. As Emily moves through her memories, the animation shifts seamlessly between different styles, from black and white sketches to vibrant watercolor paintings.
One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Emily is transported back to a childhood memory of her and her mother having tea together. As Emily pours the tea, she suddenly realizes that her mother is no longer there, and the teacup falls to the ground. This moment perfectly captures the confusion and sadness that can come with dementia, as well as the bittersweet nature of memories.
Overall, Late Afternoon is a beautifully crafted film that will tug at your heartstrings. It is a must-see for anyone who has experienced the effects of dementia, or for anyone who appreciates a well-told and visually stunning story. While the film may be too emotionally heavy for young children, it is a perfect fit for adults and older teens. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for a touching and thought-provoking viewing experience.
One Small Step
One Small Step is a heartwarming animated short film directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas. The film follows the journey of a young girl named Luna, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. Despite facing many obstacles, including financial struggles and the loss of her father, Luna persists and never gives up on her dream.
The animation style of One Small Step is beautifully done, with vibrant colors and attention to detail. The visuals contribute to the storytelling by immersing the audience in Luna’s world and highlighting her determination and perseverance.
One scene that stands out is when Luna’s father helps her build a rocket ship out of cardboard boxes. This moment not only showcases Luna’s love for space exploration but also emphasizes the bond between Luna and her father.
Overall, One Small Step is a touching and inspiring film that is perfect for all ages. The film’s message of following your dreams and never giving up is something that everyone can relate to. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves animation or is looking for a heartwarming story.
This film would be especially appealing to young children who are fascinated by space and the idea of becoming an astronaut. However, the themes of perseverance and chasing your dreams are universal and can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
In conclusion, One Small Step is a must-watch film that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. It’s no wonder that it was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
Weekends is a 2018 animated short film directed by Trevor Jimenez that tells the story of a young boy’s life as he navigates his parents’ divorce. The film is a heart-wrenching exploration of the complexities of family dynamics and the impact of divorce on children.
The story follows a young boy who spends weekdays with his mother in a small apartment and weekends with his father in his new home. The film presents the contrast between the two environments through the eyes of the boy, who struggles to adjust to his new life. The characters in the film are portrayed with a lot of depth, and their emotions are conveyed through the use of color and lighting.
The animation style of Weekends is unique and contributes significantly to the storytelling. The film employs a mix of hand-drawn and computer-generated animation, which gives it a distinct look and feel. The use of color and lighting is particularly striking, with each scene reflecting the emotional state of the characters.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when the boy visits his father and sees his new girlfriend for the first time. The scene is beautifully animated, and the tension between the characters is palpable. The film also includes dream sequences that add a surreal quality to the storytelling.
Overall, Weekends is a powerful and poignant film that explores the emotional toll of divorce on a child. It is a must-see for anyone who has experienced divorce or knows someone who has. The film is suitable for all audiences, but it may be particularly resonant for those who have experienced divorce or separation.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Weekends to anyone looking for a moving and visually stunning animated short film. The film is a testament to the power of animation as a storytelling medium and is sure to leave a lasting impression on viewers.
Live Action Short Films
“Skin” is a gripping and thought-provoking short live action film directed by Guy Nattiv and Jaime Ray Newman, which was released in 2018. This compelling work delves into the disturbing world of racial prejudice, exploring the consequences of hatred and the power of redemption.
The film centers around the character of Troy, a young white supremacist played by Jonathan Tucker, who is deeply entrenched in a violent and hate-fueled lifestyle. As the story unfolds, we witness the devastating impact of his beliefs not only on others but also on his own family. His girlfriend, played by Danielle Macdonald, and their young son become collateral damage as Troy’s actions spiral out of control.
Visually, “Skin” is a masterclass in storytelling through cinematography. The filmmakers utilize a stark color palette and lighting to amplify the film’s themes. The contrast between bright, natural tones and the dark, gritty moments effectively reflects the dichotomy between love and hate, highlighting the stark choices faced by the characters.
One scene that stands out is a confrontation between Troy and a group of African-American men at a supermarket. The tension is palpable as the camera captures the escalating hostility, drawing the audience into the uncomfortable reality of racial tension. The filmmakers cleverly use close-ups and quick cuts to intensify the emotional impact of the scene, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.
Another notable moment occurs when Troy’s son innocently mimics his father’s hateful gestures. This poignant scene serves as a poignant reminder of the generational cycle of prejudice and the devastating consequences it has on young minds. Through skillful direction and precise cinematography, the filmmakers convey a powerful message about the importance of breaking free from hate for the sake of future generations.
Overall, “Skin” is a deeply impactful and emotionally charged film. Its exploration of racism and its consequences is both timely and relevant, forcing viewers to confront uncomfortable truths. The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in heightening the storytelling, drawing the audience into the experiences and emotions of the characters.
I wholeheartedly recommend “Skin” to anyone interested in thought-provoking cinema that tackles important social issues head-on. However, due to its intense subject matter and graphic scenes, it is important to note that this film may not be suitable for sensitive viewers or younger audiences. Nonetheless, for those willing to engage with its challenging themes, “Skin” offers a powerful and unforgettable cinematic experience.
Detainment is a 2018 film directed by Vincent Lambe and Darren Mahon that explores the 1993 case of James Bulger, a two-year-old boy who was abducted and brutally murdered by two ten-year-old boys in Liverpool, England. The film is based on police interrogation transcripts and records from the case, as well as interviews with the parents of the victim and the parents of the two young killers.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by creating a sense of realism and intimacy. The filmmakers use a mix of dramatized reenactments, archival footage, and interviews to present a complex and emotionally charged story. The use of close-up shots and handheld cameras during the interrogation scenes adds to the tension and discomfort of the situation, while the use of aerial shots and wide-angle lenses during the scenes of Liverpool and the surrounding areas provides a sense of place and context.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when the two young killers are shown reenacting the crime for the police. The actors who portray the boys are remarkably convincing, and the scene is shot in a way that makes the audience feel like they are watching the real crime unfold. The scene is both disturbing and heartbreaking, as it highlights the brutality of the crime and the fact that two young children were capable of such horrific acts.
Overall, Detainment is a gripping and thought-provoking film that sheds light on a tragic case that shocked the world. The film is not for the faint of heart, as it contains graphic descriptions of violence and disturbing imagery. However, it is an important film that raises important questions about the nature of evil, the criminal justice system, and the role of parents in shaping the behavior of their children.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in true crime stories, social justice issues, or the psychology of criminal behavior. However, due to its graphic content, I would caution viewers to approach the film with care and sensitivity.
Fauve is a 2018 short film directed by Jérémy Comte and Maria Gracia Turgeon. The film explores the themes of childhood and the dangers of the natural world through the eyes of two young boys. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2019.
The film follows two young boys, Tyler and Benjamin, as they venture into a quarry to play and explore. As they run and jump around the dangerous landscape, they come across a series of unexpected obstacles that test their friendship and their ability to survive.
The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in telling the story. The filmmakers use a handheld camera to create a sense of immediacy and urgency as if the viewer is right there with the boys as they explore the quarry. The camera work is particularly effective in capturing the boys’ physicality and the danger of their surroundings.
One of the standout scenes in the film is when Tyler falls into a deep hole and Benjamin tries to rescue him. The camera work in this scene is particularly impressive, as it creates a sense of claustrophobia and panic. The filmmakers also use sound design to great effect, emphasizing the boys’ heavy breathing and the sound of the earth moving around them.
Overall, Fauve is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores important themes in a visually stunning way. The film is not for the faint of heart, as it deals with some intense subject matter and includes some disturbing scenes. However, for those who are willing to take the journey, the film is a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
I recommend Fauve to anyone interested in exploring the darker side of childhood and the natural world. The film would also be of interest to fans of experimental cinema.
Marguerite is a 2018 film directed by Marianne Farley and Marie-Hélène Panisset. The film tells the story of a woman named Marguerite, who is in her nineties and living in Montreal. Marguerite has lived a long and full life, but she has kept a secret from her family and friends for many years. She is a lesbian, and she fell in love with a woman named Kitti when she was young. Marguerite’s story is one of love, loss, and acceptance.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling in several ways. The filmmakers use a combination of interviews, archival footage, and reenactments to tell Marguerite’s story. The reenactments are particularly effective, as they bring Marguerite’s memories to life and allow the audience to see her story unfold in a more visual way. The filmmakers also use a lot of close-ups of Marguerite’s face, which allows the audience to see the emotions she is feeling as she tells her story.
One scene that stood out to me was when Marguerite talks about the first time she saw Kitti. The filmmakers use a reenactment to show Marguerite and Kitti meeting in a park, and the scene is shot in a dreamlike way that captures the magic of their first meeting. Another scene that stood out to me was when Marguerite talks about the moment she realized she was in love with Kitti. The filmmakers use a close-up of Marguerite’s face as she describes the feeling, and it is a powerful moment that really captures the emotion of the story.
Overall, I was very impressed with Marguerite. The filmmakers did an excellent job of telling Marguerite’s story, and the film is both moving and thought-provoking. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who is interested in LGBT history or in stories of love and acceptance. It would also be a great choice for anyone who enjoys films that use a mix of interviews, archival footage, and reenactments to tell a story.
Mother, directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen and María del Puy Alvarado, is a powerful and heart-wrenching film that tells the story of a woman’s struggle to find her missing daughter. The film follows the journey of Elena, a mother who is desperately searching for her daughter, who disappeared without a trace. As Elena navigates the complicated and often frustrating world of law enforcement and bureaucracy, she is forced to confront her own fears and insecurities, as well as the harsh realities of life in modern-day Spain.
One of the most striking aspects of Mother is its visual style and cinematography. The filmmakers use a combination of handheld camera work and static shots to create a sense of urgency and intimacy, as well as a feeling of detachment and distance. This style is particularly effective in scenes where Elena is interacting with police officers and other officials, as it highlights the power dynamics at play and underscores the frustration and hopelessness that she feels.
There are several scenes and moments in Mother that stand out as particularly powerful and moving. One of the most memorable is a sequence where Elena travels to Morocco to search for her daughter, and is confronted with the harsh realities of human trafficking and exploitation. Another standout moment is a conversation between Elena and a police officer, where she confronts him about the lack of progress in the investigation and demands answers.
Overall, Mother is a deeply affecting and thought-provoking film that is sure to resonate with audiences. While it is a difficult and at times emotionally challenging watch, it is also a testament to the power of the human spirit and the strength of a mother’s love. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in social justice, human rights, or simply looking for a powerful and engaging documentary.
In terms of audience, Mother is best suited for mature viewers who are comfortable with heavy subject matter and difficult emotions. It may be particularly resonant for parents, as well as anyone who has experienced loss or trauma. However, it is a film that has the potential to connect with anyone who is moved by stories of human resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Documentary Short Films
Period. End of Sentence.
Period. End of Sentence. is a powerful and eye-opening documentary that explores the taboo topic of menstruation in rural India. Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton, the film follows a group of women in the village of Hapur as they learn to operate a machine that produces low-cost sanitary pads.
The film’s main characters are the women of Hapur who are often ostracized and shamed for their periods. Through their personal stories, we see the detrimental effects of period stigma on women’s health, education, and opportunities. However, the film is not all doom and gloom. It also shows the women’s resilience and determination to break the cycle of shame and improve their lives.
The visual style of the film is simple yet effective. The camera is often stationary, allowing the women to tell their stories in their own words and at their own pace. The scenes of the machine in action are shot in close-up, emphasizing the transformative impact it has on the community.
The film’s style and cinematography are crucial to the storytelling. By focusing on women’s experiences and perspectives, the film humanizes a topic that is often dismissed or ignored. The scenes of the machine in action are a powerful symbol of progress and empowerment.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when a young girl is asked what she wants to be when she grows up. She responds, “I want to be a doctor so I can help women who are suffering from diseases caused by not using sanitary pads.” This moment encapsulates the film’s message of hope and empowerment.
Overall, I highly recommend Period. End of Sentence. to anyone interested in social justice, women’s rights, or global health. It is a poignant and inspiring documentary that sheds light on an important issue that affects millions of women around the world. This film is particularly relevant for young people, as it offers a glimpse into the lives of girls their own age who face challenges that many of us can’t even imagine.
Black Sheep is a powerful and emotionally charged documentary that tells the story of a young black man named Cornelius Walker, who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in England. Directed by Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn, the film explores the impact of racism on Cornelius and his family, as well as the psychological toll of trying to fit into a society that doesn’t fully accept him.
Throughout the film, we see Cornelius struggle with his identity and his place in the world. He is constantly reminded of his “otherness” by his peers and the media, which leads him to question his own worth and value. The filmmakers use interviews with Cornelius, his family, and his friends to paint a vivid picture of his experiences, and the result is a deeply moving and thought-provoking film.
One of the most striking aspects of Black Sheep is its visual style. The filmmakers use a combination of interviews, archival footage, and reenactments to create a multi-layered and immersive experience. The reenactments in particular are beautifully shot and add a cinematic quality to the film that elevates it beyond a standard documentary.
There are several scenes and moments in the film that stood out to me. One of the most powerful is when Cornelius describes the moment he realized he was “different” from his white friends. He talks about how he suddenly became aware of his skin color and how it set him apart from everyone else. Another standout scene is when Cornelius confronts his father about his own experiences with racism, and the two have a frank and emotional conversation about what it means to be black in a white world.
Overall, I was deeply moved by Black Sheep and highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring issues of race, identity, and belonging. While the film is focused on Cornelius’ experiences, it speaks to a larger societal issue that is relevant to audiences of all backgrounds. This is a film that deserves to be seen and discussed, and I believe it will leave a lasting impact on anyone who watches it.
End Game is a 2018 documentary directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman that explores the difficult subject of end-of-life care. The film follows a number of patients with terminal illnesses and the healthcare professionals who are tasked with providing them with comfort and support in their final days.
The main characters in the film are the patients themselves, each with their own unique story and personality. We see them struggling with the reality of their situation, while at the same time trying to make the most of the time they have left. We also meet the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who work tirelessly to ease their pain and provide emotional support to both the patients and their families.
The visual style of the film is simple yet effective. The filmmakers use a combination of talking head interviews, observational footage, and intimate close-ups to create a sense of intimacy and immediacy. The camera often lingers on the faces of the patients, capturing their expressions and emotions in a way that is both powerful and poignant.
The film’s style and cinematography contribute greatly to the storytelling. By focusing on the personal stories of the patients, the filmmakers are able to create a sense of empathy and connection with the audience. We are drawn into their world and are able to see the impact that their illnesses have on themselves and those around them.
There are many specific scenes and moments that stood out to me while watching End Game. One particularly moving moment is when a patient named Mitra shares her fears and anxieties with her doctor. It’s a raw and emotional moment that highlights the importance of open and honest communication in end-of-life care.
Overall, I was deeply impressed with End Game. It’s a difficult subject to tackle, but the filmmakers handle it with sensitivity and compassion. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in exploring the complexities of end-of-life care. While it may not be for everyone, I think that anyone who watches it will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for the work that goes into caring for the terminally ill.
Lifeboat, directed by Skye Fitzgerald and Bryn Mooser, is a gripping and emotional documentary that explores the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. The film follows the work of the German NGO Sea-Watch and its crew members, who risk their lives to rescue refugees fleeing war and persecution in Africa and the Middle East.
The film’s main subjects are the refugees themselves, who are interviewed on camera and share their harrowing stories of survival and escape. We also get to know the crew members of Sea-Watch, who are shown working tirelessly to save as many lives as possible, despite facing opposition from European governments and right-wing groups.
The visual style of Lifeboat is stark and raw, with hand-held camera work and minimal music. This creates a sense of immediacy and urgency as if the viewer is right there on the boat with the crew and refugees. The use of drone footage also adds to the film’s visual impact, showing the vastness of the sea and the desperation of those trying to cross it.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when a group of refugees is pulled from the water, including a woman who has just given birth. The crew members work frantically to save the baby’s life, and the tension and emotion in the scene are palpable.
Another powerful moment is when the crew members are confronted by a group of far-right activists who are protesting their rescue efforts. The crew members remain calm and professional, while the activists hurl insults and threats at them.
Overall, Lifeboat is a must-see film that sheds light on an urgent humanitarian crisis. Its style and cinematography contribute to the storytelling by immersing the viewer in the experience of the refugees and the crew members. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in social justice, human rights, or current events. Its audience is broad, particularly those interested in documentaries and social issues.
A Night at the Garden
A Night at the Garden is a gripping and haunting documentary directed by Marshall Curry. The film takes place in 1939 and captures a rally held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where 20,000 Americans gathered to celebrate the rise of Nazism in Germany. The footage is shocking and surreal, as we see American citizens proudly giving Nazi salutes and listening to speeches that espouse anti-Semitic and white supremacist views.
The film’s style and cinematography play a crucial role in telling this disturbing story. The footage is presented in black and white and is edited in a way that builds tension and suspense. The camera lingers on the faces of the attendees, capturing their expressions of joy and admiration. The use of slow motion adds to the sense of dread, as we see the crowd saluting in unison.
One of the most striking scenes in the film is when a man rushes onto the stage with a banner that reads “Stop Nazi Brutality.” He is immediately tackled by the Nazi guards and dragged off stage. The camera follows the man as he is beaten and kicked by the guards, while the crowd cheers and applauds. It is a shocking and disturbing moment that highlights the violent and hateful nature of the rally.
Overall, A Night at the Garden is a powerful and important documentary that sheds light on a dark moment in American history. The film is only six minutes long, but it packs a punch and leaves a lasting impression. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in history, politics, or social justice. It is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand how hate and intolerance can spread in a society.
2019 Oscar Short Film Winners
Live Action – Skin
Animated – Bao
Documentary – Period. End of Sentence.