Oscar Nominated Short Live Action Films
Forget that these films have been selected for a possible Oscar, as four of them are the worst collection of cinematic nonsense that I have ever seen.
What on earth were the Oscar people thinking when they nominated these 5 woeful films? Four of the five center on young boys either dying, facing death or killing someone, and I have been forced to select the exception as my Oscar pick.
Let’s start with the Spanish contribution entitled Madre (Mother). The film opens and closes with a wide view of an unoccupied beach that you later learn is in France, and it becomes significant when a mother receives a cell phone call from her young son. She is at home in Spain with the boy’s grandmother, and the young lad tells mommy that his father has disappeared and he is alone on this desolate location.
Mom grows more desperate as she learns that the young boy not only has no idea as to the whereabouts of his father, but that suddenly a strange man appears on the beach and approaches him.
When his cell phone goes dead, mom becomes hysterical as she tries to seek help from the police. However, given that this movie is in the short film category, I’ll let you guess about the ending.
The next film is from Canada and entitled Fauve. As two young boys taunt each other as they explore a rural countryside, they end up in a canyon where they both start to sink in quicksand. One escapes and runs for help as his buddy has now sunk up to his neck. Once again, I will let you guess at the sad ending.
The third film is a diabolical movie from Ireland entitled Detainment. It’s based on a murder that took place in England in 1993 where two 10-year-old boys become the youngest convicted killers of the 20th Century.
Many in England sought to ban this film, and after seeing it you will understand. It centers on two rough-edged ten-year-old boys who stumble across a two-year-old standing in a mall after they grow a bit weary of shoplifting. As you see them walking away hand-in-hand with the two-year-old, the rest of the film takes place in a police station where they are both questioned concerning their role in this kid’s death. Though the performances of the young actors are quite powerful, the film is really about the skills of homicide detectives who calmly force the boys to recognize the difference between truth and lying.
While you learn a bit about how they tortured this kid before killing him, the ending credits recognize that much of the facts relating to this murder remain banned from public view because they are so incredibly ghastly. As I sat in the crowded theatre taking notes, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people shared my disgust with those responsible for nominating these films.
And then there was the worst film of the group entitled Skin from the United States. It deals with a tattooed, racist redneck who joins his friends and spouse in teaching his son the joy of drinking beer and firing a rifle. When they stop one afternoon to buy some alcohol at a local store, their son starts laughing at a smiling black patron who is holding up a tiny toy soldier he is obviously purchasing. Dad’s racism immediately comes to the surface, and he and his friends hunt this gentleman down in the parking lot where they proceed to viciously kick him and beat him to within an inch of his life. The scene ends with them pouring milk he had purchased over his ravaged body as his wife and child cried hysterically in the car.
But justice prevails when this vicious bigot is forced to stop on a side street while driving home when a car is blocking the road. When he gets out to demand that they move the car, four black men grab him, knock him out and drive away to a garage. In the garage is a variety of medical equipment, which includes needles where it appears that they are going to tattoo him.
However, when the semi-conscious, hateful soul is later dumped out on the street in the dark, he finally sees his own reflection as he stumbles home. The bottom line is that he was transformed physically into a black man, and his wife and child are forced to confront him with guns when they think a stranger is breaking into their home. This film ends in disaster also, but you will have to contact me if you’re remotely interested in the actual ending.
In the end, the film I selected as the likely winner of an Oscar is entitled Marguerite, also from Canada. As noted above, it has the honor of being the only non-violent film among this year’s nominees. It tells the story of an aging woman who is being assisted by a young female attendant. The older woman has numerous health problems, and she is particularly delighted when her aide is able to apply lotion to her legs.
When the aide’s phone rings you can hear her in a funny, romantic conversation before hanging up. When the aging woman asks if that is her boyfriend, she said no, it was her girlfriend.
As you then watch the kindly lady look back through an old photo album, you see her smile brightly when she is in the company of a young woman. When the next picture is of her and her husband, she immediately frowns and looks away.
The strength of this film flows from the simple realization of a woman on the downside of life’s bell curve as she was forced to suppress the fact that she was gay and her younger years were lived in a society where religion banned homosexuality as a mortal sin. The film has a poignant ending, and that was the principle reason that I picked it to win this year’s Oscar.