2011 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Best Live-Action Shorts

Compared to this year’s Oscar-nominated animated shorts, the live-action shorts were a bit off. I loved one of them, but on the whole the group of films feels flat, not to mention I’m having a very hard time nailing down a prediction.

The best of the group by a mile is The Crush. It’s a hilarious look at a young boy who has the hots for his teacher. When he finds out she’s gotten engaged to a jerk, he decides to do what the cowboys do and challenge the man to a duel, the result of which is full of dark humor and a great deal of charm. All that said, I think it’s unlikely this one takes it home at the end of the day.

Na Wewe has a much better chance of winning Oscar gold; In fact, it’s my pick to win tonight for a number of reasons. The film tells the story of a group of men, women, and children who are forced at gunpoint to prove they are Hutus and not Tutsis in war-torn Burundi in the 1990s. It’s a frightening tale, but it ends on a note that’s deeply ironic and surprisingly funny. It was a strange ending, though, that I felt didn’t necessarily mesh well with the tone of the picture. But I think it’s more serious subject matter (as well as the fact that it’s not a British picture—more on that later) could mean victory.

Another film I could see emerging victorious is Wish 143, a touching little film about a terminally ill teenager who wants nothing more than to lose his virginity before kicking the bucket. It definitely has some strong moments, as well as a good performance from Samuel Holland, as the lead character. However, I took issue a little with how jarring the transitions between comedy and drama were. That drama, however, just might help it take home the prize.

God of Love is a clever film to be sure, but like most of the others, I had a few issues with it. Star/writer/director Luke Matheny has clearly been influenced by folks like Woody Allen and the Coens. The writing is very sharp in this story about a lovesick man who has been given magical darts that have the power to make people fall in love for 6 hours. But I think it thinks it’s clever than it actually is, and like Na Wewe, I thought the ending felt out of place (and the lead character’s final action out of character).

The final film in the race is by far the one I liked the least. The Confession, I’d say, is the only straight drama in the category this year, and it’s a film that felt unnecessarily cruel. A 9-year-old boy and his friend are about to give their first confession, and one of the boys doesn’t have any sins to confess. So his friend, the mischievous one of the bunch, decides they need to find a good sin for the boy to commit in time for confession. What happens from there I’ll leave for you to discover, if you so desire, but the way one of the boys deals with it just felt so wrong to me. Even worse is another scene later in the film that adds an additional layer of tragedy to everything and isn’t even dealt with before the film ends. It was a mess, to be honest, but thankfully, I don’t think it’s got much of a chance for the award.

It’s really anyone’s guess, but on my predictions post (which is coming later today), I’ve decided to go with Na Wewe. It definitely wouldn’t surprise me to see Wish 143 called, or even God of Love. But my heart belongs to The Crush. If you decide to check out any of these films, I definitely recommend it be that charmer.

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